Teenage Rebels With Causes (Inspired by March For Our Lives)

Happy Thursday, Audiobook lovers,

I hope you had a great week. I went to the March for Our Lives protest in San Francisco on Saturday (see left for a picture of my extremely uncreative sign and extremely adorable dog). It was an amazing event and was packed with teenagers. Teens protesting, teens speaking, teens manning booths, heading out buttons. It was awesome.

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I adore high-school age kids. I’ve worked with them in some capacity for the last decade or so and enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. Usually when I talk about my work with teens to other adults, they look at me like I train cobras. Recently, though, there’s been a collective shift in the general public’s attitude towards teens, and for good reason. The student survivors of the Parkland shooting–-and students against gun violence everywhere– have been showing up and speaking out since the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They’ve taken the lead to speak out against gun violence and for safer schools.

I’m glad people are recognizing how capable teens are and I very politely have refrained from yelling I TOLD YOU SO at all the former naysayers. So this week, I thought we could look at some audiobooks where teens are fighting the system and kicking ass.

Teenage Rebels With Causes

Publisher’s description in quotes

All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely,narrators: Guy Lockard &‎ Keith Nobbs

Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all.” See, Rashad was stealing that bag of chips–-at least that’s what the police officer who beat Rashad within an inch of his life said.  And it didn’t matter that Rashad was an “ROTC kid with mad art skills,” who proclaimed his innocence; he was also a black kid in baggy clothes who a cop was certain had been stealing from the store.

Which is what Quinn, a white kid, thinks he saw. He thinks he saw his best friend’s older brother, a cop, taking down a criminal.

“At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway.”

Alternating between Rashad and Quinn’s point of view, All American Boys describes the aftermath of the brutal event: on Rashad and Quinn personally as well as their school, town, and even the nation.

In some ways, police brutality and systemic racism is not unlike a school shooting. We know it’s tragic when it happens and we try to convince ourselves that it won’t happen here or it was just one fluke incident. But the more incidents we see, whether it’s on TV or in front of our local corner store or public high school, is a tragic reminder that it’s still all too common. Like the Parkland kids, Quinn realizes that “bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.”

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E.Lockhart

If you have been reading this newsletter for any length of time, this title isn’t going to surprise you. Yes, I just love this book. But it also happens to fit the theme! While the stakes are not nearly as high as they are in many of these other books, Frankie is still fighting against a Big Bad Force: The Patriarchy. It all starts when Frankie starts dating Matthew Livingstone, a popular older boy at her elite prep school, Alabaster Academy. All seems to be going well, until Frankie discovers that Matthew is part of an all-male secret society–-a group from which she is necessarily excluded because of her gender.

But Frankie, because she is a badass, does not “go gentle into that good night.” Instead, she executes a plan to teach not just the Royal Order of the Basset Hounds but all of Alabaster High a lesson.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, narrated by Archie Panjabi (AKA Kalina from The Good Wife!)

When she was fifteen years old, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head while riding the bus home from school. The culprit?  A Taliban gunman; the Taliban, had local control of the area and had banned girls from attending school. Malala was not expected to survive the attack. But she did.

Malala became an icon, not just for the diary she anonymously published at age 11, or the attack on the school bus, or even her bravery getting on that bus in the first place but also for the work she’s done since. An advocate for the rights of girls and woman, Malala is the youngest person ever to have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.”

Permanent Record by Leslie Stella, narrated by Nick Podehl

“For 16-year-old Badi Hessamizadeh, life is a series of humiliations. After withdrawing from public school under mysterious circumstances, Badi enters Magnificat Academy. To make things “easier”, his dad has even given him a new name: Bud Hess. Grappling with his Iranian-American identity, clinical depression, bullying, and a barely bottled rage, Bud is an outcast who copes by resorting to small revenges and covert acts of defiance, but the pressures of his home life, plummeting grades, and the unrequited affection of his new friend, Nikki, prime him for a more dangerous revolution.

Strange letters to the editor begin to appear in Magnificat’s newspaper, hinting that some tragedy will befall the school. Suspicion falls on Bud, and he and Nikki struggle to uncover the real culprit and clear Bud’s name.”

This is one of those books where I just don’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. I loved it. It’s one of those books that makes you laugh while it punches you in the gut. Which I realize doesn’t sound like a selling point, but I swear it is.

Do you have any favorite teenage rebels with causes? Let me know at or on twitter at msmacb.

Until next week,