Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices

Edited by . 3 CDs. 3 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781480518568. $54.97.
Gr 6–10—Perkins introduces her new anthology with guidelines for telling humorous stories about life between cultures: good humor pokes fun at the powerful, builds affection for the 'other,' and is self-deprecatory. Perkins reads her own contribution, which describes the agony of teenage dating, a shared American experience that's complicated by the need for secrecy from her FOB ("fresh off the boat") parents. Nine other YA writers, from a variety of backgrounds, explore the theme in fiction, poetry, and a personal essay in graphic format. On audio, six actors competently convey the humor, which ranges from witty to funny to hilarious. Listeners, however, will miss the unspoken emotion expressed in the visual storytelling of Gene Yang's "Why I Won't Be Watching the Last Airbender Movie." The work concludes with an evocative poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, who honors her peace-loving Palestinian father and her own biracial identity: "half-baked, mix of East and West, balancing flavors…" as do many American students today.—Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL

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