I received this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This story jumps right into the action, we have our 18 year old Roza on her way to Poland after a protest at her graduation went awfully wrong. Someone was hurt and we don’t know why or who.
Roza is half polish she is from the inner city of New York. She is a smart girl who keeps her head down and avoids attention. She is graduating high school but isn’t happy with the standard of education. She is angry about a lot of things, she just doesn’t know what she can do about it. She seems rather lost and confused about who she is. Once sent to Poland this lost feeling gets even worse. She is lonely, cut off from the only people she has ever known and still very angry. Over the course of the book Roza slowly fills in the gaps for us as she comes to terms with events.
The book is written in such a way that you almost feel like you have someone yelling these words at you, maybe even rapping them at you if that makes sense. Their is so much anger that it pours off the pages. I found the thoughts and feelings of Roza very realistic. As an angry teen I had a lot of similar thoughts. I was self-destructive, I can empathise with the mc and understand her choices to an extent.
Every moment spent in my presence was a misery, I can only imagine. The real me was still in there somewhat trapped inside this horrible teenager. I could sometimes spot the error of my ways through a crack in the armor, but I was too numb to stop it. There were times I wanted to reach out and give myself a good slap.
This was like listening to myself as a young adult to some extent. But our mc has more on her plate than I ever did. She has confusion about her roots, where she came from and what that means for her. She is from a poor area, where the kids aren’t given the same advantages as those from the middle class and up, where the colour of your skin can get you shot. She wants to stand up and make a difference, but how can she when she doesn’t know who she is.
The tone of the book isn’t designed to make you comfortable, it’s not here for escapism, its shoving everything in your face. The author isn’t sugar-coating anything for your pleasure. Its like this book is a platform for them to say exactly what they want. Which it is. The writing style had moments of absolute brilliance and then I was skimming through sections.
Not even ten minutes into class and you’ve got most kids sliding down in their chairs as far as they can go. Just their noses poking over the tops of their desks. It’s not like the movies where you’ve got a brave Michelle Pfeiffer saving a whole bunch of kids from one collective life fail.
I’m not really sure what I think about this book, I don’t feel like it’s a book you can rate. I think it brings up a lot of critical issues that need to be discussed, that people need to stop sweeping under the rug, issues that privileged need to stop blaming the others for. It’s not an easy read, but maybe that’s what makes it so important. It doesn’t glorify the ugly, it leaves it all there for you to see.