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"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green


Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices edited by Mitali Perkins [Review]

Title: Open Mic: riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices
Editors(s): Mitali Perkins
Contributors: David Yoo, Gene Yuen Lang, Cherry Cheva, Debbie Rigaud, Varian Johnson, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, G. Neri, Francisco X. Stork, and Naomi Shihab Nye
Edition: Audio, 2 hours 50 minutes/3 discs
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Source: Library
Buy: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Book Depository

Using humor as the common denominator, a multicultural cast of YA authors steps up to the mic to share stories touching on race.

Listen in as ten YA authors -- some familiar, some new -- use their own brand of humor to share their stories about growing up between cultures. Henry Choi Lee discovers that pretending to be a tai chi master or a sought-after wiz at math wins him friends for a while -- until it comically backfires. A biracial girl is amused when her dad clears seats for his family on a crowded subway in under a minute flat, simply by sitting quietly in between two uptight white women. Edited by acclaimed author and speaker Mitali Perkins, this collection of fiction and nonfiction uses a mix of styles as diverse as their authors, from laugh-out-loud funny to wry, ironic, or poignant, in prose, poetry, and comic form.
My Opinion

I am making a pledge this year to read more diverse books, and participate in the 2017 Diverse Reads Book Challenge, so I started it off right by getting a hold of the audiobook of this gem of a collection.  Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices edited by Mitali Perkins has the perfect mix of humor, a little heartache, and a whole lot of strength, capturing the reality of experiences of people trapped between cultures.

There is a mix of fiction and nonfiction; a mix of prose, verse, and graphic within the pages.  But while each entry may be different, the underlaying purpose rings true.  As Perkins writes in her introduction, the purpose is to "...to break down barriers and draw us together across borders.”  And this collection succeeds.  From the romantic, in Cherry Cheva's "Talent Show" to the empowering, in Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich's "Confessions of a Black Geek; from half-way across the world, in G. Neri's "Under Berlin", to one's own house, in Francisco X. Stork's "Brotherly Love" and everything in between the autobiographical feeling of being trapped between two cultures, and the journey to fight against racism and the expectations of each culture is clear.

The audiobook was excellently done, with multiple voice actors doing the readings (a majority of whom are POC as far as I could figure out).  This made it much easier to differentiate between each entry right away, and also brought great character to the stories.  I love that Mitali Perkins narrated her own story, which is about her life.  It gave it just something special to hear her telling her story of being a boy-crazy Indian-American teenager trying to figure out how to "score some points" (read it to find out more!!!!).

I would love to see a Volume 2 come out in 2017, especially with the climate of America the way it is currently.  Diverse books containing stories from the very people represented in them is necessary and so impactful.  Each of these authors are amazing contributors to both the Young Adult and Middle Grade genres, but put them all together and is it amazing!  A great addition to the #ownvoices movement (published ahead of its time) and a necessary book that helps bridge the gap in our country, shining a light on racism and multicultural issues through humor.

Final Rating


Interview with Mitali Perkins

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I haven't heard of this one before. I'll be checking it out now though. Thanks!


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