Book review: You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery, by Jen Petro-Roy

Petro-Roy. Jen. You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery. Feiwel and Friend,. 2019. 283p. $19.99. ISBN 978-1-250-15102-5. Ages 13+. P7Q8

This self-help book from an eating disorder survivor defines these disorders, explains types of treatments, and gives such assistance as cognitive reframing and relaxation. Petro-Roy provides personal experiences with research and interviews with both professionals and those who have experienced these problems.

Verdict: The style is conversational and accessible for people searching for solutions to personal problems in this area. Although the audience is teenagers, adults can also benefit from this guide, and professionals dealing with the subject can also find it useful.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

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Book review: Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You, by Kathryn Gonzales and Karen Rayne, illustrated by Anne Passchier and Nyk Rayne

Gonzales, Kathryn and Karen Rayne. Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You. Illus. by Anne Passchier and Nyk Rayne. Magination Press/American Psychological Association, 2019. 278p. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4338-2983-3. Ages 14+. P7Q9

Hard questions about gender identity issues—including gender nonbinary, nonconforming, fluid, and questioning—are addressed with clarity and sensitivity in this compendium of topics such as developing bodies, reproduction and pregnancy, transitions (social, medical, and legal), dating, intimate relationships, and gender identity at home, school, and work. Information is supplemented with notes from the authors and responses from six different trans and nonbinary young people who write about their own experiences. Black and white illustrations primarily show a diversity of people and drawings for authors and responders, and anatomically correct expand the reproduction explanations. Each chapter is concluded with additional resources.

Verdict: The introduction accurately describes the book as “honest, all-inclusive, uncensored, real-world,” and the unintimidating format is inviting. From the question “What is gender?” to the final chapter, “Spirituality and Faith,” the book is useful in many arenas: counseling, schools, discussion groups, and personal interest. The “Dictionary” that defines terms also explains when some of these words are inappropriate. A must for all collections because of its educational value. [Note: this review was prepared from an ARC; it is to be assumed that typos and repetitions will be corrected in the final copy. Index not provided.]

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World, by Mike Winchell

Winchell, Mike. The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World. Holt, 2019. $19.99. 260p. ISBN: 9781250120168. Ages 12-15. P7Q9

The AC-DC wars between two famous inventors, Thomas Alva Edison and Nikola Tesla, highlighted the Gilded Age, the late 19th century of big business and booming entrepreneurship. The “electric” book begins with a man’s murder of his wife in Buffalo (NY), an unlikely event that leads to an epic episode toward the end of the book in which the man was the first person to be legally executed through electrocution. Told in graphic detail about the man’s suffering, the experience dramatizes Edison’s self-centered decision to preserve his direct-current approach by illustrating the dangers of alternating current in homes and businesses. The book shows the backstabbing of the major figures of invention in electronics during the time, their successes and sometimes later failures before the building of the huge power plant, at one time providing electricity for one-fourth of the people in the U.S., that ended the War of the Currents.

Verdict: Winchell’s exciting narrative will entice even readers not interested in the subject or the people involved through his writing and inclusion of quirky events such as the seven-year-old Edison burning down his family’s barn because he wanted to learn how straw burned. Edison’s stubbornness comes through his continued fight to win despite his understanding about the serious flaws of direct current for large commercial purposes as does Tesla’s willingness to give up his patents to ensure the success of alternating current. Highly recommended for both research and leisure reading.

May 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History, by Keith O’Brien

O’Brien, Keith. Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History. “Young Readers’ edition.” Houghton, 2019. $16.99. 299p. ISBN 978-1-328-61842-9. Ages 12-15. P6Q6

Between the two world wars, the male pilots who popularized events across the United States were heroes, and the women were skipped over, either ridiculed or not invited to races. This rejection, however, didn’t dampen the women’s drive to fly. O’Brien highlights diverse female heroes, some of them lesser recognized in today’s youth books, who made a difference in how people looked at women pilots: Florence Klingensmith, Ruth Elder, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nichols, and Louise Haden. He emphasizes their diverse backgrounds and varying advantages in their attempts to come out on top.

Verdict: The gender inequality of that time bleeds over into O’Brien’s writings, beginning with the use of “girls” in the title to describe women. O’Brien describes their clothing as “low-backed” or “tight” and their appearance as “prettier” or “tall and slender.” Some of the text also focuses on the achievements of men. The accounts of their flying are sometimes animated, the dangers of the sport well delineated, and the text accessible.

May 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Exposing Hate: Prejudice, Hatred, and Violence in Action, by Michael Miller

Miller, Michael. Exposing Hate: Prejudice, Hatred, and Violence in Action. Twenty-First Century/Lerner, 2019. $37.32. 143p. ISBN 978-1-5415-3925-9. Ages 12-15. P4Q5

From religious intolerance in colonial America through the Jim Crow and anti-Semitism periods to the increasing white supremacist terrorism in the United States of the 21st century, hate defines the opposition to democracy. Miller identifies extremist organizations and how they “advocate hatred and violence toward members of a specific race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.” Approximately 15 percent of the book is devoted to reasons for joining these groups and ways in which developing organizations, some of them by former members of hate groups, are working to resist and reform members of the hate organizations.

Verdict: Despite thorough research, the book has become outdated, a problem because of the rapidly growing problem of white supremacy. It also concentrates on hate groups based on race, religion, and sexual orientation, omitting some categories of hate groups such as anti-abortion ones such as Operation Rescue. Although Miller addresses prejudice toward Chinese immigrants, he does not mention the Japanese-American internments during World War II or the prejudice against Germans in both world wars.  The author does include Donald Trump’s racist misogynist language and his efforts to limit Muslims and immigrants from entering the country but not the access to weapons by hate groups. He also includes antifa among hate groups although they do not fit this classification that opposes race, religion, etc. Another weak spot is the index that doesn’t give accessibility to navigating the book. Most of the book is factual with few vignettes to inspire interest in young readers. The best part of the book is the 20 pages about what individuals are doing to fight back against hate groups and domestic terrorism despite the lack of interest and funding from the current federal administration.

May 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Locked in Ice: Nansen’s Daring Quest for the North Pole, by Peter Lourie

Lourie, Peter. Locked in Ice: Nansen’s Daring Quest for the North Pole. Holt, 2019. $19.99. 316p. ISBN 978-1-250-13764-7. Ages 12-15. P4Q7

In 1893, a Norwegian scientist, Fridtjob Nansen, took a crew of 13 men and 28 dogs in an attempt to reach the North Pole. During the three-year journey, he came closer than anyone else—274 miles—and his dream was not undisputedly achieved by land until over 70 years later in 1968. When Nansen realized that his ship could not get the pole, he and Hjalmar Johansen set out on foot in March 1895 and traveled for over a year until returning home in August 1896. The ship with its crew joined him soon after, but all the dogs had been lost long before. Copious use of historic photographs, primary sources, and end materials that even include a list of the equipment taken on the ship and the names and weights of all the dogs gives a feel for the trip.

Verdict: The sepia ink and traditional fonts give a dated look to the book, and the detailed maps are difficult to read. The extensive details in the book are useful for the curious who find them interesting but slow down the reading for those searching for adventure.

May 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: From Here to There: The Story of How We Transport Ourselves and Everything Else, by HP Newquist

Newquist, HP. From Here to There: The Story of How We Transport Ourselves and Everything Else. Viking, 2017. $18.99. ISBN 9780451476456. 123 pgs. Ages 10+. P6Q8

This history of transportation and how human mobility has affected our history and development was written for the Smithsonian.  The first chapter begins, “Survival depends on moving, and for humans that begins with two legs and two feet.” The author looks at the earliest examples of footwear, and how the development of different kinds of shoes helped humans advance. Then we move on to snowshoes, skis, skates, and more. Subsequent chapters look at water travel, wagons, cars, trains, and air and space transportation. Each chapter has a different color scheme and specific graphic markers, and is supported by photographs and reproductions of art work found in the Smithsonian. I enjoyed the scope of the book- the topic is enormous, and the sections are very broad, but the author manages to organize the material in a way that keeps you interested. I really liked the inclusion of a lot of social history, like details about the bicycle changed the social behavior and public perception of women, and even how women dressed. There is a page of the author’s resources (mostly websites), and an index. It was voted one of the best STEM Books of 2018.

VERDICT: This book will be a good addition to public and school libraries. It may be a useful resource to supplement social studies and history classes, and is interesting enough that kids may pick it up just to browse.

May 2019 review by Carol Schramm.