Anything But Okay by Sarah Darer Littman [Book]

“Stella and Farida have been best friends forever, but lately things have been tense. It all started when Stella’s brother came home from his latest tour with the US Marines in Afghanistan paranoid and angry. But Stella won’t talk about it, and Farida can tell she’s keeping something from her.Desperate to help Rob, Stella thinks she just needs to get him out of the house. She definitely didn’t expect going to the movies to end with Rob in handcuffs for assaulting one of her classmates after his anger spiraled out of control.When a video of the fight goes viral, everyone has an opinion of Stella and her “violent vet” brother.The entire school takes sides, the media labels Rob a terrorist sympathizer, and even Farida is dragged into the mess despite not being there. As the story continues trending, Stella will have to decide just how far she’s willing to go for the truth, even if it means admitting her own failures.” – sarahdarerlittman.com

I feel the need to preface this piece by stating one simple fact that I hope you all acknowledge and know that I am dead serious about…..this is an absolutely amazing book, and even more, I feel as though it should be required reading for every single student, teacher, parent, hell, PERSON, who is ever going to try even in the slightest to understand the youth of today, especially when it comes to anyone attempting to understand the trials and down-right hardships of anyone who is coming back from “Over There”, as well as the families who are forced to deal with the reprecusions of a war that no one can understand.

I also have to state a fact that has been in my brain since reading Anything But Okay, and that is this: I don’t believe I have ever read a “Young Adult” novel before. I was a young adult once, but even then I don’t believe I ever managed to partake in YA reading. When I was in 6th grade, my mother had to be called to my elementary school because my teacher was concerned about me reading Howard Stern’s Private Parts at such a young age. True story. I did read Goosebumps as a younger child, but I never even manage to move into Fear Street as a pre-teen or teenager. I jumped right into the Fletch series, and Hemingway very early on. That same 6th grade year, I also had to have my mom come to my school to defend my school project on Tim Allen where I casually mentioned that the huge Home Improvement star once sold cocaine for a living, and then show a clip to the class from Toy Story. Basically I was a pretty messed up kid, and grew up way too fast. But, that’s not important here. The point is, I have never been well-informed on the YA world. Until now.

And I am honestly convinced that I am not in the wrong for my aversion to the YA world when I was an actual young adult. I firmly believe that they were not writing books like Sarah Darer Littman is writing now. To be honest, maybe the lack of the internet, and the fact that I was a latch-key kid from the 90’s might have something to do with it, but I honestly don’t remember being taught or reading anything that was as compelling and tragic and inspiring as I have read in Littman’s Anything But Okay. I came into adolescences during a time when things seemed pretty much okay. If everything was trembling around us, we didn’t really seem to notice. That is definitely not the case for the characters that Littman is currently writing about, and is definitely not the case for her readers in this day and age.

Anything But Okay is an absolutely brilliant depiction of what it means to be an American teenager in this day and age. While the storyline seems so specific at first, you would soon realize that is really isn’t. This is a far too common storyline, and that definitely makes me sad. The plot points of this amazing novel are not only accurate, but entirely plausible in the saddest ways possible. Littman obviously did some incredible research when she decided to tackle the idea of PTSD in the modern world. And what makes it so much more special is that it comes from the perspective someone close by, and actually focused on their own personal struggles in dealing with the situation.

And while the idea of PTSD is definitely a major plot point in the book, it’s not the only lesson to be learned within this text. Throughout my reading of this amazing novel, I became enthralled with the character that is Farida. I truly believe that if you read this book, your perception of the character Farida will truly say a lot about your own personality. Read the book, you will get it. Farida simply tells it like it is. And Sarah Darer Littman perfectly drives the point home when she mentions the idea that Farida is expected to represent her entire culture each and every day just be living as a kid of Iraqi descent. This is a concept that I truly believe that people really don’t think about enough. But this is just a testament to the amazing talent of Littman.

Folks, young and old, you NEED to check out this book. It’s one of the best novels the decade. And if it doesn’t change your life in a positive way, you should probably reevaluate your entire existence.

Anything But Okay will be available on October 9th, 2018 from Scholastic Press. Discover more info at sarahdarerlittman.com

 

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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