It is Pride Month and the Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that a bakery that didn’t want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple should have been given further due process under state law rather than just ruling that discriminating against gay couples is against the Constitution. A senator was subsequently kicked out of a refugee facility, but not before his staff noticed that children forcibly separated from their parents were being kept in cages. The Secretary of Education has quietly removed 72 protections for disabled children in public schools. Everywhere you look these days, there is a new reason for outrage and we must all develop coping mechanisms or we will most certainly go mad. That’s where Dear Rachel Maddow comes into play.
Many of us are suffering the psychological and legislative trauma of this administration. I fear that some of us may not make it out and constantly have anxiety that we won’t show up to the polls in November. Taking action may not be the only step to take–sometimes you need an outlet, a motivation to kick your butt in gear. This book may just be what times who feel hopeless are looking for. I am going to write you a letter and tell you why.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (June 5, 2018)
Brynn Harper’s life has one steadying force—Rachel Maddow. She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project, Brynn drafts e-mails to Rachel but never sends them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first girlfriend, about her brother Nick’s death, her passive mother and even worse stepfather, and about how she’ stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.
Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will have a voice among administration in the selection of a school superintendent. Brynn’s nemesis John believes only honors students are worthy of a committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. She asks herself: What would Rachel Maddow do?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adrienne Kisner has a master’s and doctorate degree in theology from Boston University and was inspired to write Dear Rachel Maddow by her work with high school and college students. She is also a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in writing for children and young adults, and can be found at AdrienneKisner.com. Dear Rachel Maddow is her debut.
Dear YA Wednesdays Readers,
Today, I am featuring a topical book for 2018. It is also a heartwarming and life-affirming book, which we need more than ever. Every point in history may seem most dire and brutal, but here is nothing like the immediacy of watching your world crumble by the sidelines.
Enter Brynn Harper. Brynn is a girl on the edge–stuck with a less than ideal home life, a mother who can’t be bothered and a terrible step father, struggling with her brother’s death by overdose, dealing with the heartbreak of the loss of first love, stuck in remedial classes, bombarded by her everyday high school life. Once she is assigned to write an email to her hero, she begins a diary of unsent emails to Rachel Maddow.
Rachel embodies so many qualities that Brynn relates to and admires–she shares her political leanings, does what she loves by going on the air every night, she is a lesbian. Rachel becomes Brynn’s confidant, unbeknownst to her and while it is intriguing to read, it is also heartbreaking.
Brynn is adrift in her grief and loss. She does not have a pillar of strength to lean on when she needs it most and her unsent emails to Rachel unwittingly become her diary. Brynn is a wily and sarcastic sort, but she’s also vivacious and adventurous. She fights back we she encounters her arch-nemesis, Adam, intent on using school politics and policies for his own gain. Her ex-girlfriend, Sarah, who dumped Brynn is bitten back every time Brynn encounters her. I wondered, as I read, how they keep her from their lives because Brynn is a force of a human being. Someone who walks into the room and commands your attention–whether it be through her snark or her compassion. And when momentum builds, she must find the strength to fake her way through some obstacles she never intended, but faced with the alternative, she was the only one to step up. This book is entertaining and life-affirming, even through the terrible rough patches Brynn runs across. Overall, Brynn is all of us in a difficult situation and she fakes it until she makes it just like the rest of us.
There will always be a little piece of Brynn in my heart and I wholeheartedly hope you’ll read this book and carry her with you as well. Rachel would be proud.