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Hearts Unbroken

by Cynthia Leitich Smith

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14714144,895 (3.48)4
When Louise Wolfe's boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. She'd rather spend her senior year with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, an ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper's staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director's inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey. But 'dating while Native' can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey's? -- adapted from jacket… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Great realistic fiction book about a girl with Native American tribal roots, living in Kansas, who reports for her school newspaper and deals with bullying and discrimination at her school. her younger brother, a freshman, gets cast as The Tin Man in the school musical production of The Wizard of Oz, a Kansas staple, but he and the other multiracial cast members start to receive flak from a "concerned parents" group that wants Oz to stay "traditional" (i.e., all white). Louise also is going through relationship troubles, starting with dumping her boyfriend who's got racist parents and isn't very accepting of Natives himself. But as she grows closer to one of her fellow reporters on the paper, will she be able to open up completely to him? "Dating while Native" becomes quite complicated. I very much enjoyed this book, from the detailed look at what it takes to be a good journalist, getting accurate sources and looking at all sides of a story, to the many Muscogee customs and phrases introduced in the book. (There's a cool glossary in the back.) I also learned a lot about the author L. Frank Baum that I hadn't known before, unfortunately not very good stuff. I can see this book being used in schools to spark a lot of great discussions about freedom of the press and discrimination/racial tolerance. Lou is a great character, so are her parents. It was really nice to read a YA book with a modern Native teen's perspective, showing her pride in her heritage amid the usual teen angst and school/relationship problems. I'd recommend for mature middle/high school readers, some f-bombs. ( )
  GoldieBug | Oct 23, 2020 |
I really enjoyed the style of this story because it flowed from one moment to the next in a way that felt almost like vignettes while not actually being vignettes, if that makes any sense. It made for a very quick and compelling read. Plus the characters were wonderful. I was hoping to bring it to our 8th graders, but there's a quick scene near the end with on-page sexy stuff that won't fly at our schools. I would definitely consider this for teens who want more like The Hate U Give and are looking for stories about teens of other ethnicities. No one is killed in this book, but it definitely touches on conversations about race between friends, peers, community members, etc. It's also sweet and funny and reads very realistic. ( )
  bookbrig | Aug 5, 2020 |
American Indian Youth Literature Young Adult Award

Louise (Lou) Wolfe and her family moved from Texas to Kansas, and are still settling in to their new community, where they are one of the only Native families. After junior prom, Lou broke up with her jock boyfriend Cam Ryan, and now he's spreading rumors about her, but she's moved on: she's joined the school newspaper and is interested in new kid Joey, who's part Lebanese. Meanwhile, her younger brother Hughie, a freshman, decides to try out for the fall musical, The Wizard of Oz. When three non-white students are cast in leading roles, there's a backlash among parents, and Hughie and the other two student actors start receiving anonymous notes: "There is no place like home. Go back to where you came from."

As Lou dives deeper into her newspaper work - including a story about working students, like her best friend Shelby - Hughie discovers Frank L. Baum's hideous views on indigenous people and feels conflicted about being in the play, even though he won the part of the Tin Man. And, in trying to make sure that Joey doesn't have racist views about Native people, Lou inadvertently offends him deeply.

Smith portrays a realistic high school experience on every level: family, faith, friendship, romance, school work and extracurriculars. She is good at showing how teachers - especially the newspaper advisor and the theater teacher - are caught in the middle, and how pressures from people and businesses in the community have a chilling effect. Adults and kids both have competing loyalties - to teams, friends, and family - and they navigate as best they can.

Quotes

"A color-blind approach can lead to whitewashing....Color conscious means casting actors of color...in roles where the race, ethnicity, skin hue of the character doesn't matter to the story. It opens up opportunities, pushes back against the white default." (Mama, 41)

[Journalism teacher Ms. Wilson] had a twofold policy:
1. Don't bother me unless you're on fire.
2. Don't catch on fire. (84)

"Being a journalist doesn't mean you give up your conscience. It means that you don't confuse your opinions with the facts. Facts are key to reporting the news. Opinions are the stuff of editorials." (Ms. Wilson, 111)

Cited: If I Ever Get Out of Here, Eric Gansworth (122)

"Being quiet can send just as big of a message as speaking your mind." (Fynn to Lou, 201)

I will never understand why being a horrible human being all the time is supposed to make it less bad each time. (222)

"Most guys think that the only negative emotion they're allowed to feel is anger." (Emily, 242)

Back matter includes Mvskoke-English glossary and an "education for all" section as well as thanks. ( )
  JennyArch | Jan 28, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Made it through the first chapter and decided I couldn't go on. Very stilted unnatural writing, unfocused, opening scene felt like I was dropped into the middle of a story I knew nothing about, unsympathetic characters, I disliked the main protagonist who I obviously should have been supporting, there were things that stuck out as odd such as a 17-yr-old using the phrase "ducked into a powder room" and thinking "I was mindful of how whatever was left lying around might affect (for better) the boys' reps and (for worse) the girls'" [note: the 1st person narrative is supposed to be a 17-yr-old in high school who planned to lose her virginity at the prom after-party at her boyfriend's family's 2nd home, along with several other partiers, where clothes and used condoms are strewn about the next morning].

I actually don't recall choosing this title (in the form of an uncorrected proof/ARC) from LibraryThing Early Reviewers, and was surprised when I won it, as the description of the work wouldn't have really appealed to me although I do read some YA and novels by Native American writers. So, take my review with that grain of salt. ( )
1 vote seongeona | Feb 6, 2019 |
Loved the concept of reading a YA book centering around Native teenager Louise as she works through the dramas and issues of high school: first love, whether a boy likes her or not, getting through the school year, dealing with family/friends, etc. As an added layer, Louise also must deal with casual and not so casual racism and bigoted remarks about Native peoples and parents stuck on not having greater representation in the school play.

It sounded nice and it seemed like time to switch it up with a YA book. However, while the *story* was really great and I enjoyed watching Louise navigate her HS years, the writing really wasn't very good. It didn't keep me reading and while I liked the character of Louise and was interested to see how the story would turn out (and felt it when she dealt with slights both small microaggressions and blatant hate crimes), it just didn't keep me.

As others have said it does feel like an ARC or first draft that needed more editing. There are great moments here and there (such as when Louise is handed a book for her little brother) but overall it just wasn't very compelling, although maybe younger readers would enjoy it.

Liked the concept, would try something else by the author (and other YA books with Native main characters!) but this was skippable. Borrow from the library and see if it's a keeper. ( )
  HoldMyBook | Jan 14, 2019 |
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When Louise Wolfe's boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. She'd rather spend her senior year with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, an ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper's staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director's inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey. But 'dating while Native' can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey's? -- adapted from jacket

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