"The Latte Rebellion"
by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
Pub. Date: January 8, 2011
Synopsis: When high school senior Asha Jamison gets called a "towel head" at a pool party, the racist insult gives Asha and her best friend Carey a great money-making idea for a post-graduation trip. They'll sell T-shirts promoting the Latte Rebellion, a club that raises awareness of mixed-race students.
Seemingly overnight, their "cause" goes viral and the T-shirts become a nationwide fad. As new chapters spring up from coast to coast, Asha realizes that her simple marketing plan has taken on a life of its own-and it's starting to ruin hers. Asha's once-stellar grades begin to slip, threatening her Ivy League dreams, and her friendship with Carey is hanging by a thread. And when the peaceful underground movement turns militant, Asha's school launches a disciplinary hearing. Facing expulsion, Asha must decide how much she's willing to risk for something she truly believes in.
I really wanted to like "The Latte Rebellion", but the book just didn't do it for me. I originally got into the book thinking it would be an interesting read about girls banding together to make a difference in the world, but there seemed to be very little of this. It didn't really bother me that Asha and Carey's plan stemmed from a marketing scheme to help them plan a summer trip, the fact that they did believe in what they were putting on the shirts made it okay for me. What I didn't like was how Asha and Carey fought the entire book. I get not wanting to lose an important friendship, but when your friend only has contact with you when it is beneficial for them, then that is a one sided relationship. I kind of felt like Carey was only Asha's friend to bum rides off of her to school, help her study for tests, and so she had somewhere to sit at lunch. Asha's character was also driving me nuts. She kept ignoring her schoolwork and then was shocked when she got back grades. It was also annoying because she kept whining about how unfair her parents were being, but she is the one who let her grades slip. There was a lot of time spent on Carey and Asha's friendship, on Asha's grades, and on love interesting- this just really detracted from the overall story to me.
Another thing I really didn't like was the portrayal of adults in the book. Almost every single adult thought the Latte Rebellion was a terrorist group or that teenagers were wasting time on something that wasn't important. I have to say that if my child were to start a group to raise awareness of important social issues, I would be so proud of them. I would not be ashamed and disappointed. I would of course warn them that sometimes acting on your beliefs could cause trouble, even if you have the best of intentions, but I would still stand up for them if the school tried to expel them. I can't believe no parent stepped in to talk to the school about how exclusive they were being to groups of students. I know this is a teen book and maybe teens wouldn't like adults taking charge, but that is usually what happens. Especially in a circumstance such as this where the school system is overreacting to a peaceful group trying to bring social awareness about mixed races. The schools reaction was actually pretty disgusting; I'm surprised more wasn't done in this area.
Overall, the book was okay, but honestly I could have skipped reading this one. Even though Asha did seem to want to bring awareness about mixed races to the world, I just thought "The Latte Rebellion" would have been a more successful book if more focus had been spent on the issues instead of Asha's personal life. I know that other people have really enjoyed this book, but I'm just not one of them.
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