Title: “I Will Not Be Erased” Our stories about growing up as people of colour
Illustrator: Jess Nash
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Teen/young adult non-fiction
Book format: Paperback
Description: OUR STORIES about identity, about sexuality, about family, about love, about power, ABOUT GROWING UP AS PEOPLE OF COLOUR.
gal-dem, the award-winning online and print magazine, is created by women and non-binary people of colour. In this collection, gal-dem witers share their joyous, funny and life-affirming stories about growing up.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to all teens regardless of their backgrounds or individual circumstances. “I Will Not Be Erased” is a powerful set of stories which will connect with anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t fit in for what ever reason. Each story is inspired from a diary entry or something else that the author has written when they were a teenager and the story talks about their experiences back then and how their life now isn’t the same or as bleak as they had thought in the past.
Every short tale, which is no more than a few pages, features a different author and all stories are written by women or non-binary people of colour. The target for this book is obviously other teens who are themselves non-white, but I don’t think this book should be restricted to them alone as there are many teens of any colour who, for whatever reason, feel like they don’t fit in. The stories cover different aspects of teenage life, in one story for example the author focuses on her worries about dating someone and getting intimate while coming from a strict religious background that wouldn’t allow it, another deals with the reality of what can go wrong when taking drugs, another is about a woman who didn’t fit in at school with what was stereotypically ‘black’ in society, and there are plenty more stories which deal with bullying, repationships and sexuality, etc.
I found myself compelled to read this book all in one sitting, it’s not that long, but the stories are all so powerful and I know this is a book that would have inspired me when I was younger. Although I don’t come from the non-white background that the authors in this book do, I’ve faced many of the prejudices, bullying and issues that they have growing up as a marganalised and white minority ethnic in Britain. Reading the powerful messages that these stories gave, showing how life as a teen can change dramatically when you are an adult and the thoughts and feelings you have when you feel so down and alone are not how you feel forever, these messages felt like something I really needed to read myself growing up and I know that many teens will see this book as an inspiration for themselves.
Some of the stories are written as just stories to us the readers (the author telling us what happened when they were younger), others are letters written to their younger selves, these I particularly like and can see would be a good exercise for a lot of people to do to see how far they have come. Every story has quotes surrounding it of some of the inspirational words used in the tales, and there is an illustration that accompanies every story in the book.
These stories are very much aimed at teenagers, especially those who don’t feel they fit in with societies norms. There are some darker moments though, talking about drug taking (which is never actually condemned but warned about the dangers instead), relationships and discussing having sex (though nothing descriptive about that) which some parents might feel uncomfortable with their kids reading, but overall this book really does make you feel better for reading it and can open up the eyes of people who may not understand the prejudices and challenges that many teens still face today.
Do you like this book? What do you think about books that features stories from under-represented people like this one? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂