The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
Flux, January 8, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Author Challenge
Summary from Goodreads:
Our philosophy is simple: Promote a latte-colored world! —from the Latte Rebellion ManifestoI found The Latte Rebellion a surprisingly refreshing contemporary debut. It's not a romance novel, it's not a friendship novel (although friendship certainly plays a big part)...it's truly a coming-of-age story. Asha creates a seemingly innocuous Rebellion and ends up learning so much about herself as a person, and what kind of person she wants to be. I definitely liked Asha as a main character: she's smart, witty, bright, a loyal friend. I didn't think she was perfect--I thought she could be a bit spineless when it came to standing up to her friends and parents--but overall I thought she was a great representation of a high school senior unsure of herself and feeling pressure to succeed.
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.
How did I feel about the Rebellion itself? It was so interesting to see how it went from being a gimmick to sell T-shirts to this entire social awareness platform with a life of its own. I wonder--if Asha and Carey had been more upfront with their part in the Rebellion right from the get-go, would the results have been any different? Would the trouble have happened to that extent? More importantly, would the Rebellion iteslf have taken off as it did. Yes, it's clear that there was (IS) a need for social awareness of mixed ethnicities, but sometimes the "underground" organizations gain so mch popularity precisely because they're underground.
I loved the scenes where Asha describes her ethnicity: if she joins the Asian-American club, does that mean she's insinuating that the other ethincities are less important? How can she choose just one? WHY should she choose just one? I couldn't believe the reaction she got from the high school administration. I understand why Asha and her friends wanted to maintain their anonymity, but by retaining that anonymity they gave up the chance to truly explain that the Latte Rebellion was created to raise awareness, not to become a terrorist group.
And ugh. Can I just say for the record that I detested Carey? I can certainly empathize with her--she and Asha started the Latte Rebellion to raise money, not awareness, and was completely justified in her refusal to become too involed (well, not completely, I guess--she still should have supported her best friend). But she was really just a piss-poor excuse for a friend. I can't even get into why I hated her so much, I don't want to reveal any spoilers. She just sucked. I don't even want to hear "friends grow apart" or "my scholarships!" bull, either. She made several conscious decisions NOT to put Asha first, even when she realized how important the Rebellion was to Asha. A true friendship consists of a little compromise; what Asha has with Carey is more like a one-way street.
I feel that The Latte Rebellion is a great way to bring social awareness to a subject many people probably weren't aware of, without stuffing it down your throat. If you're so inclined, you too can head over to The Latte Rebellion website and check out the manifesto for yourself!
Borrowed book from library.
Enjoy your reading!