“I Rise” is a riveting tale featuring fourteen-year-old Ayo; a long-time resident of Harlem New York and somewhat celebrity due to her mother’s presidency in a foundation fighting racism. Her childhood consisted of making protest posters and reciting the feats of past African-American figureheads. While her life may seem fulfilling, all Ayo had ever wanted was to live like a “normal teenager.” Her mother believed that she was the so-called “successor” of the organization, a title that Ayo had started to dread. Then, her mother was gravely injured out of nowhere, leaving an entire organization in Ayo’s care. Despite her devastation, with the help of her friends, Ayo fought to avenge her ill mother and make her home a place of equality.
This book was an overall fantastic read! The author’s ability to convey the message of “silent struggle” and persistence through hard times is undeniably phenomenal. Ayo’s ability to even go to school, much less lead a protest after her mother’s injury, requires immense courage. The bravery she exhibited strikes me not only as impressive but inspirational to those in similar conditions. In addition, this book was filled with bittersweet moments portraying the sorrow, racism, and pain that many people experience in their own lives. Although there were some aspects of Ayo’s life I could relate to, I found that her experiences were quite contrary to my own, which led me to see through a different perspective than usual. After reading this book, not only did I feel inspired, I felt more educated on a lifestyle that was unlike my own.
I can’t conclude this review without mentioning one of the most memorable aspects of it, friendship. When Ayo was in dire situations, her friends remained loyal and caring towards her. Rather than neglecting her pain, they made strides to help Ayo feel like she wasn’t alone. I found their generosity to be one of the best aspects of the book because these kinds of friendships have a positive effect that lasts a lifetime.
Reviewed by Rhea M. at Twin Hickory Area Library