The Latte Rebellion

Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Flux, $9.95 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-0-7387-2278-8
Stevenson's debut novel explores the complexities of mixed ethnicity, advocacy versus self-interest, and finding one's voice. Asha Jamison is at the top of her senior class and ready to attend any number of selective schools, until her focus shifts from academia to racial prejudice after being called a "towel head" at a pool party. The comment was meant as a joke (she indeed had a towel on her head at the time), but Mexican/Irish/Indian Asha and her half-Chinese best friend, Carey, see it as emblematic of a broader insensitivity. Shortly thereafter, they found the Latte Rebellion (complete with manifesto and Web site) promoting mixed-race pride—and ideally funding a postgraduation trip through T-shirt sales. Their group quickly gains national popularity, but despite this success, Asha's schoolwork suffers, her relationships with her family and with Carey are strained, and the group's militaristic tone attracts the attention of school administrators. As Stevenson alternates between the day-to-day dramas surrounding the advent of the rebellion and scenes from an eventual disciplinary hearing, she offers a thought-provoking account of a girl's search for identity. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/22/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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