Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

A Tyranny of Petticoats #2

The Radical Element

Rate this book
In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.

To respect yourself, to love yourself—should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It's a decision that must be faced whether you're balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it's the only decision when you've weighed society's expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of the girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs—whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they're asking you to join them.

Daughter of the book / Dahlia Adler --
You're a stranger here / Mackenzi Lee --
The magician / Erin Bowman --
Lady Firebrand / Megan Shepherd --
Step right up / Jessica Spotswood --
Glamour / Anna-Marie McLemore --
Better for all the world / Marieke Nijkamp --
When the moonlight isn't enough / Dhonielle Clayton --
The belle of the ball / Sarvenaz Tash --
Land of the sweet, home of the brave / Stacey Lee --
The birth of Susi Go-Go / Meg Medina --
Take me with U / Sara Farizan

320 pages, Hardcover

First published March 13, 2018

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jessica Spotswood

14 books1,659 followers
Jess is the author of the historical fantasy trilogy The Cahill Witch Chronicles and the contemporary novels Wild Swans and The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls. She is the editor of the anthologies A Tyranny of Petticoats and The Radical Element, and co-editor (with Tess Sharpe) of Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft. Jess lives in Washington, DC, where she works for the DC Public Library as a children’s library associate. Her newest book is Great or Nothing, a World War II-era retelling of Little Women in which each March sister is written by a different author.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
195 (20%)
4 stars
442 (45%)
3 stars
268 (27%)
2 stars
51 (5%)
1 star
16 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 29 of 289 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,079 reviews17.2k followers
November 28, 2018
After a fairly shaky first half, I adored the second half of this. All the characters are the best, basically.

★☆☆☆☆: 0
★★☆☆☆: 1
★★★☆☆: 2
★★★★☆: 5
★★★★★: 4

My average rating for this anthology was a surprisingly high... 4.0. Did you expect that? Because I totally did not. Halfway through this anthology, I was prepared to give it a big old three, and then I hit three five stars in a row and this happens.

Okay, so here’s my really big gripe with this anthology. It is marketed as being about radical girls, which at least some of the anthology editors have implied means more marginalized girls, and that is really untrue. There has still been no Native American MC in twenty-five stories that are about American history, which is honestly pretty disappointing. It also feels at times a little lacking in intersectionality—a bunch of the stories have MCs of Exactly One Marginalization and it feels vaguely weird. And in this whole book, none of the stories are sapphic; only four even have queer characters, two of whom are side characters and two of whom have it mentioned once. Not to be this person, but I’m gonna say it: this could have been gayer.

But I also love the focus on girl power, the diverse characters [there’s a lot of diversity in representation for girls of color], and a bunch of these stories were just really good . Let’s get started!

→ Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler ← ★★★☆☆
✔ 1838 Savannah, GA | Jewish MC
Can’t decide on a three or a four, but I think this one was overall quite solid. It’s a story of being a Jewish woman in an era where society rejects both, and wanting to fit into your strongest faith. I guess I just felt it was a bit tell-not-show and didn’t do much until the ending?

→ You're a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee ← ★★★★☆
✔ 1844 Nouvoo, Illinois | Mormon MC
Taking place just after Mormon prophet Joseph Smith is killed, this one focuses on the idea of persecution of faith and the different outlets we find, be they positive or negative. I just really liked how faith was talked about in this story. A very strong four.

→ The Magician by Erin Bowman ← ★★★★☆
✔ 1858 Colorado River, NM | nonbinary MC
A story of a trip up the river into Utah and Mormon territory [the placement directly after Mackenzi’s story fits perfectly.] Dressed as a boy, Ray is on a mission. I thought the ending of this one was lovely, going in a direction I did not expect and also making it pretty clear that Ray actually would ID as nonbinary today.

→ Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd ← ★★★★☆
✔ 1863 Charleston, SC | disabled MC and black girl side
A solid story about a pro-union spy team of girls, one in a wheelchair and one her black maid. I support them and would die for them.

→ Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood ← ★★★☆☆
✔ 1905 Tulsa, Indian Territory | sapphic abuse survivor MC
This one was a lot of fun, but again, not amazing. It’s a very self-contained character piece without really having anything special, and I admit I didn’t really love the main character? I don’t tend to be attracted to wild child leads, I guess. But certainly not bad.

→ Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore ← ★★★★★
✔ 1923 Central Valley, CA | brown Mexican MC, disabled trans boy LI
I think McLemore just has very consistent quality writing and characters and very consistently plays with themes I LOVE. Here, it’s about the masks we put on to hide things we may not be ashamed of, but others will be, and how that affects us. The best one in the first half of the collection, honestly.

→ Better For All The World by Marieke Nijkamp ← ★★★★★
✔ 1927 Washington, DC | autistic MC
THERE WAS A STORY THAT WAS EXPLICITLY ANTI EUGENICS. Okay, so I got really passionate about this historical era this year because I did a paper on post-World-War-II eugenics. So this story and its discussion of the way society treated “different” people was so amazing. The main character, Carrie, is very clearly autistic and written so well and I basically adore her [an icon!!!!!] I hope she gets the lawyer job she deserves. Spoilery note: I kind of wished in the first half that the love interest had figured out that he was wrong, if only so the lead could get a happy relationship? But the way the story actually went was better on another level by validating the lead’s need for someone who actually treated her well, so I guess that wish was pretty irrational.

→ When the Moonlight Isn't Enough by Dhonielle Clayton ← ★★★★★
✔ 1943 Oak Bluffs, MA | black MC
Uh, wow, three fives in a row just as I was readying to write this collection off as good-but-not-standout? Lead character Emma has been alive for 200 years and is just now deciding whether to break free. This story is primarily focused on the continuity between earlier black history and later black history. The other main concept explored here is the question of how black people can be patriotic in a culture that has offered them so little, and how they can find their own communities. It’s just an excellent story with very sound writing.

→ The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash ← ★★★★☆
✔ 1952 Brooklyn, NY | Latino LI
Rosemary wants to write comedy, her friend Sandra wants to be the next Lucille Ball, and there’s a cute boy, Tomás, on her street. This was really sweet and felt very ‘50s — love the side friendship and the ending is perfect.

→ Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee ← ★★★★★
✔ 1955 Oakland, CA | multiracial Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian MC
A story about Lana Lau dragging everyone to hell and back. Every line of this was the most savage thing I’d ever read and I love it. Also love the mentions of American imperialism in Hawaii and the taking-back of that narrative. And I know I've said it, but I truly love the lead.

→ The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina ← ★★☆☆☆
✔ 1972 Queens, NY | Cuban MC
This was… really disappointing? I don’t know. It’s really long and doesn’t really have an ending. I liked the bits about being an immigrant from Cuba, but they felt crammed into something quite long and rambly for a short story. And the lead had a very lacking voice.

→ Take Me with U by Sara Farizan ← ★★★★☆
✔ 1984 Boston, MA | Iranian MC, sapphic Japanese side char
Ooooh, this was amazing. A story of an Iranian immigrant in a girl band, and a story deeply entrenched in ‘80s vibes. As Sara Farizan says in her final note, the ‘80s was the decade that began to give us today — the cell phone, the computer, many of today’s global conflicts, the end of the Cold War, and above all, a feeling of change. The perfect ending for this collection and very very close to a five.

all in all: despite an underwhelming first half, this got really excellent and was a worthwhile read. I would definitely recommend Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee, When the Moonlight Isn't Enough by Dhonielle Clayton, Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore, and my absolute favorite, Better For All The World by Marieke Nijkamp. This was a great anthology and I’m happy to have read it!

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube
Profile Image for Nat.
542 reviews3,170 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
August 2, 2018
description
I recently answered the PARKS AND REC book tag (and had THE MOST FUN doing so), wherein I featured this collection for Tom Haverford's A character who likes to dream big.

Here is what I wrote taken directly from the tag:

January was also the month where I received the opportunity to read an incredible short story written by Dahlia Adler in The Radical Element anthology. Daughter of the Book was the introducing story to the collection, and my immediate first thought upon completing it went, "I don’t know how any following tale will top that one." (And as you can tell, since I'm not writing a full review for the anthology, I had to put the book down because I couldn't continue reading without comparing each following tale to the phenomenal opening one.)

Set in 1838, Savannah, Georgia, Daughter of the Book follows Rebekah's fight and journey to receive a more fulfilling Jewish education.

"Tell them I'm Jewish first."

Dahlia Adler created one of the most memorable protagonists I've encountered in my reading with Rebekah Wolf. And it is the first time that I’m actually aching for a short story to be expanded into a full novel.

The Radical Element 1-- bookspoils

I’ve read a whole lot of short stories in anthologies these past few years, but I’ve truly never felt so seen before. There are talks of Hebrew, Torah, the Prophets, our history, language, and people. To paraphrase this article, it was how I talked, how my mom talked, how my sister talked. This was the writer of our experience. And as someone who does listen avidly to Torah lessons, I couldn’t have asked for a better story to capture the essence of my appreciation.

Also, having watched the Israeli show Shababnikim, which is about four young Orthodox yeshiva students, made the characters in this short story stand out that more. Speaking of which, I would highly recommend giving the show a try if you enjoyed Dahlia Adler’s story because it showcases formidable female characters challenging the norm, as well as featuring situations with outstanding humor and precise commentary that makes everything shift in your point of view.

If you're interested, the first episode is available to check out with English subtitles on the official Youtube page here.

Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying Rookie on Love, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!


Support creators you love. Buy a Coffee for nat (bookspoils) with Ko-fi.com/bookspoils
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,088 reviews6,590 followers
July 3, 2019
1.) A Tyranny of Petticoats ★★★.5
2.) The Radical Element ★★★.5

--------------------------------------------------

Definitely the weakest of the two anthologies in this series. My favourite was definitely Sara Farizan's 'Take Me With U'!

Daughter of the Book by Dahlier Adler - 3.5/5 stars
You're A Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee - 2.5/5 stars
The Magician by Erin Bowman - 3/5 stars
Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd – 4/5 stars
Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood - 2.5/5 stars
Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore - 4/5 stars
Better For All the World by Marieke Nijkamp - 3/5 stars
When The Moon Isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton – 3.5/5 stars
The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash – 3.5/5 stars
Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee – 4/5 stars
The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina – 3.5/5 stars
Take Me With U by Sara Farizan – 4.5/5 stars

Average Rating - 3.46
Profile Image for Erin Bowman.
Author 15 books1,900 followers
Shelved as 'books-i-wrote'
May 22, 2017
I'm so excited (and honored!) to be contributing to this anthology, and yes, you can expect me to write something set in the Wild West. Yeehaw! (Teaser here)

Update 5/22, after having read all contributors' stories: Much like with A Tyranny of Petticoats, I loved this anthology and the wonderful mix of stories it provides. The girls featured in this book are radical, indeed, and I can't wait for you to read about them! :)
Profile Image for alice.
268 reviews335 followers
March 25, 2018
You can find this review and others at arctic books

2.5/5 stars

I’m starting to think that anthologies are just Not For Me. The past few anthologies that I’ve read had good content, but I just haven’t been into them as much as I wish I had. That being said, THE RADICAL ELEMENT contains amazing short stories from stellar YA authors.

These twelve short stories are diverse in so many ways – there’s queer people, people of color, people with disabilities – I found myself in a few characters, especially in Stacey Lee’s short story. A lot of short stories in this are set in a historical time period, most of which are in the twentieth century, such as the Roaring 20s, World War II, and others. If you enjoy historical fiction, you are bound to love this collection of stories.

Overall, I do think that I’m starting to lose interest in short stories in general and perhaps historical fiction isn’t for me. However, I’m an intersectional feminist, and I related with many of these stories. I appreciate the wonderful diversity by #ownvoices authors that were featured in this short story collection. If you want to read more diversely from some amazing authors in this historical fiction anthology, be sure to pick this one up!

Thank you to Candlewick for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews189 followers
March 2, 2018
The Radical Element is a historical fiction anthology about radical and dauntless young women throughout American history. It follows girls ahead of their times, marginalized girls, girls who were in some way unconventional.

It’s the second book in a series. The first, A Tyranny of Petticoats, followed brave and “badass” girls; I read it more than a year ago, and I remember having mixed feelings on it. I liked this one a bit more, though it had its low points too.

Overall, this didn't disappoint. The Radical Element shines a spotlight on people who are often forgotten, erased in historical records, and who were considered outcasts because they didn't fit the norms.

One thing didn’t convince me: these two anthologies about the history of the USA didn’t include, as far as I know, any Native American authors. There were barely any native characters (Yakone in the first book, and one of the characters from this one vaguely mentions she has “indian blood” and lives in a “half-Creek and half-Cherokee” territory); since this is a otherwise fairly diverse anthology, this absence stood out to me.
Also: unlike A Tyranny of Petticoats, this didn’t have any f/f stories.

Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler (1838: Savannah, Georgia): 3.5 stars.
I had already read a book by this author – it was Under the Lights, a f/f contemporary novel I recommend – so I knew I really liked her writing style.
This is the story of a Jewish girl who wants to receive a full education and maybe become a teacher, which was something radical for her time period. I loved the many (not only historical) details.

You’re a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee (1844: Nauvoo, Illinois): 3 stars.
I knew nothing about Mormon history, so this was interesting. I loved the setting and what the Eliza says to Vilatte about faith near the end of the story. I like Mackenzi Lee’s writing style; this story didn’t have the humor or tone of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, but it worked just as well.

The Magician by Erin Bowman (1858: Colorado River, New Mexico): 3 stars
This was really interesting for a crossdressing story; at the end of it it’s hinted that Ray may be a person who would today identify as genderfluid/non-binary. That’s uncommon in historical books, but people like Ray have always existed, so I liked this. However, the actual plot was kind of boring at times.

Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd (1863: Charleston, South Carolina): 3.5 stars.
This was more interesting than I expected. A free black girl and a disabled white girl are union spies. Chemistry! Explosions! Of course, TW: racism.

Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood: 4 stars
This was fun! A girl wants to run away from her abusive uncle with the circus. I really liked the main characters and the writing. The first scene drew me in immediately, and the descriptions of the circus were my favorite part.

Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore (1923: Los Angeles and the Central Valley, California): 5 stars
I will read everything Anna-Marie McLemore writes. This was just… so much better than all the other stories in the book. It’s a magical realism story about the racism, queerphobia and ableism in Hollywood, and it follows a Mexican girl who is able to whitewash herself to fit in and a disabled trans boy. Both of them live afraid of being found out, but find each other instead. I loved how this story approached a scene which could have been harmful (Graciela sees Sawyer half naked) in a really sensitive way. Graciela never questions Sawyer’s identity.
Glamour reminded me of When the Moon Was Ours because of its symbolism, and in a good way – now I have a lot of feelings.

Better for all the World by Marieke Nijkamp (1927: Washington, DC): 4.5 stars.
TW: eugenics
I had never read an ownvoices story about an autistic girl before; it’s difficult to find them, especially in historical fiction or SFF.
Better for all the World follows an autistic girl who wants to become a lawyer. She is following the Carrie Buck case – who was sterilized because she was “feeble-minded” (that’s how they called people who had mental illnesses/developmental disabilities). The worst part is that some people argue that this should happen today too. It was infuriating to read, painful, but great. At the end of the story, the main character finds out that some friendships just aren’t worth it, especially when the other person doesn’t value you as you really are, or claims to like you while advocating for the oppression of other people like you.

When the Moonlight isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton (1943: Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts): 3.5 stars
A magical black family drinks moonlight to be immortal, but their daughter wants to grow up and help her country win the war – a country that doesn’t value her at all. A really interesting concept, and the writing was lovely, but overall the story felt disjointed.

The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash (1952: Brooklyn, New York): 3 stars.
I had never read anything by this author before. While the writing didn’t impress me, I can say I loved the main character’s voice. Rosemary is a girl who is struggling because her mother’s expectations do not include becoming a comedy writer.

Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee (1955: Oakland, California): 4.75 stars
An Asian-American girl (Chinese father, biracial Japanese mother who was born in Hawaii) decides to participate in a contest to be the new “Sugar Maiden” – the girl whose face will be on the sugar boxes. I have loved everything I’ve read by Stacey Lee, and this was no exception.
Lanakila Lau was one of my favorite main characters, and reading about the aftermath of Japanese internment and the history of Asian-Americans in Hawaii was really interesting.

The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina (1972: Queens, New York): 2 stars
A Cuban-American girl is coming to terms with her past (her and her parents were exiled from Cuba), family expectations and who she wants to be in the future. The grandparents she hasn’t seen in 12 years are coming to visit her, and she isn’t sure how she feels about that. I didn’t love this one; it meandered and it was far too long.

Take Me With U by Sara Farizan (1984: Boston, Massachusetts): 2.5 stars
I had never read anything by Sara Farizan before. Take Me With U is about an Iranian girl, her immigrant family in the 80s, and her love for music. It was short and I don’t have any thoughts about it – it was just ok.

My average rating was 3.52.
I received an ARC (advanced reader copy) from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Clara (The Bookworm of Notre-Dame).
444 reviews395 followers
March 13, 2018
I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A friend of mine recommended me the first anthology, so when this one has been added to Netgalley I knew I had to ask for it. If you don't know what it's about, The Radical Element is basically an anthology about all those women who didn't fit in the society they were born in and who had to fight to get a chance to be heard.

It's always so hard to review anthologies, and it's still the case here, but the subject is so important that I can't think of another rating than 4 stars. This book is beautiful and delivers such a strong message: everyone should read it. It really empowered me and made me believe that you should be proud of who you are and fight for your right to be free to be whoever you want to be and already are.

I believe that the representation was good, but you should all look to #ownvoices reviews to be sure of it. It felt so good to read something so diverse because the world is and everyone should be represented in literature.

In the end, I really enjoyed the whole book: I loved some short stories more than others but overall the whole anthology was really good and well edited. I'm really glad that I read it!
Profile Image for kate.
1,077 reviews914 followers
October 9, 2019
Despite its somewhat shaky start, this was a brilliant sequel anthology to A Tyranny of Petticoats.

Top three stories:
-Glamour by Anne-Marie McLemore
-The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash
-Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee

Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Alder - 3/5*

You’re a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee - 2/5*

The Magician by Erin Bowman - 3/5*

Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepard - 3.5/5*

Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood - 4/5*

Glamour by Anne-Marie McLemore - 5/5*
oh how I wish this had been a full length novel.

Better for all the World by Marieke Nijkamp - 4/5*

When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton - 4.5/5*

The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash - 5/5*
Once again, I want a full length novel of this story, pretty please.

Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee - 5/5*
Love, love LOVED this one.

The Birth Of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina - 3/5*

Take Me With U by Sara Farizan - 4/5*
Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews264 followers
July 21, 2018
average rating: 4 stars (which is honestly perfect, because I hate half star ratings in general)

Uh, wow, after the first two stories in this anthology were pretty lackluster I got scared that this anthology was going to be overall, extremely disappointing, but thankfully the stories after definitely improved!

I also completely agree with all three sentiments from Elise's review, I honestly wish there was more intersections within the characters rather than each of them having only marginalization. I really wish there were more sapphic characters too??! And also, it would have been AMAZING if there were stories about Native Americans here. (we need more anthologies with stories about Native Americans!!)

But besides that, I actually really enjoyed this anthology!

Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler [★★☆☆☆] Jewish mc
This was about a Jewish girl who was trying to be more educated against the rules, I think. I think it’s funny that the first three sentences of this story are “Rebekah threaded in. Rebekah tugged the needle out. Rebekah had never been so bored in her entire seventeen years.” because that’s exactly how I feel about this story. There wasn't really much to the plot during this story and it just wasn't that captivating to me?

You’re a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee [★★★☆☆] Mormon mc
About a Mormon character who has to flee when her community is attacked, this was honestly a pretty meh story. I enjoyed the writing but this didn't really hold my interest until the very end?

The Magician by Erin Bowman [★★★★☆] nonbinary mc with she/her pronouns
This short story is about Ray, who has to dress as a boy in order to get work/etc. My interest in this anthology definitely peaked after this one. The story was really interesting, and I loved our main character here. Ray was a strong character whose determination I really admired.

Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd [★★★★★] disabled mc (in wheelchair), black side character
Aaaah I really loved this one! It's about our main character and her "maid" who together are Firebrand, a spy duo working for the Union. It was so captivating and I definitely wanted more from the story after it was finished. I'm so excited for Megan's work!

Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood [★★★★☆] sapphic abuse survivor mc
Step Right Up's about Ruby, who has to deal with domestic abuse in her home and wants to escape with the circus. I thought that this was pretty interesting, and I definitely loved the dynamics between our main character and her sister!

Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore [★★★★★] Mexican mc, disabled trans li
I think it's an agreed statement that Anna-Marie's writing is magical. Although I didn't enjoy the author's Wild Beauty because of a lack of plot, this one definitely caught my attention and makes me excited for her work in the future! This one is about a Mexican girl who desperately wants to be a star, and she uses her family power to leech the color out of her skin in order to appear white. I definitely loved this one, it was a really nice exploration of the "shunning" of your poc background in order to be accepted in society.

Better for All The World by Marieke Nijkamp [★★★★★] autistic mc
This... was such an amazing story. It was about our main character that strives to be a lawyer, and it takes place during a case for sterilizing an autistic woman against her will. Our main character is, of course, against it. This was written so well and the main character was so precious imo. I loved our character arc and how she decided that her career and beliefs are more valuable than a mildly interesting boy.

When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton [★★★★☆] black mc
Oooh the concept for this one was so interesting! Basically, our main character and her family are able to basically "live forever" as long as they drink a jar of liquid moonlight each month. I thought that this was such a unique system, and I'd love to see more about it and how they "harvest" the moonlight? This story explores the concept of how black people can be mistreated by America and are still patriotic and want to fight for their country, which is amaaazing. I thought our character arc was really cool and it honestly made a little emotional at the end.

The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash [★★★★★] Latin li
I really, really loved this one! The main character wants to be a comedic writer, but her parents wouldn't allow it and it's such a sweet and entertaining story that I LOVEEED. I loved our feminism here, and I definitely want to see more of Sarvenaz' writing in the future! The only negative thing was that our main character wasn't marginalized in any way besides her gender.

Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee [★★★★☆] multiracial Chinese/Japanese/Hawaiian mc
This is definitely a really hard-hitting novel, tackling racism as well as America exploiting Hawaii. I really enjoyed this one, but Stacey's writing has always been... a bit off for me? But it's just me. Anyways, I was pretty surprised by the direction that this went in but I loveeed it.

The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina [★★★☆☆] Cuban mc
This was interesting, but it didn't have a lot of plot and it seemed pretty passive. Our main character just lives at home until she encounters her neighbor, who's white and violates a lot of the rules of the apartment building but doesn't undergo any consequences. What I really did like about this one was the way it expressed how white people and poc live their lives differently. For example, in the apartment building, there's a rule not to go out on the fire escape. Our mc's family always, always abides by the rules and would never go out on the fire escape for fear of being seen. In contrast, the white character easily goes out onto the fire escape without a second thought. I really liked this portrayal, because it's definitely true in society today including my own family.

Take Me with U by Sara Farizan [★★★★☆] Iranian mc, sapphic Japanese side character
This was really fun to read! Our main character is staying with her aunt and uncle, and she becomes friends with the girl that lives above her apartment. I really enjoyed the friendship in this one, they were really sweet, but I do feel like this was resolved really quickly though?

Overall, I really enjoyed this! I really liked reading the author's note for each story as well, which provided a lot of historical insight into the story which I appreciated. My favorites were Lady Firebrand, Glamour, Better for All the World, and The Belle of the Ball.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,404 reviews255 followers
March 3, 2018
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As an American girl in the past and the present the decision to respect yourself can sometimes be challenging and radical. You have to face it whether you're neurodivergent, a second-generation immigrant, or facing racism. Self-respect is the only decision when you've weighed societal expectations and found them wanting. In this anthology, twelve talented YA authors present stories of all sorts of girls from all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs from the 1830s to the 1980s. Are you ready to join them?

The Radical Element is a compelling collection of twelve short stories taking place between 1838-1984. My favorites include "The Magician" by Erin Bowman (1858, Colorado River, New Mexico Territory), "Lady Firebrand" by Megan Shepherd (1863, Charleston, South Carolina), "When the Moonlight Isn't Enough" by Dhonielle Clayton (1943, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts), "The Bell of the Ball" by Sarvenaz Tash (1952, Brooklyn, New York), and "Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave" by Stacey Lee (1955, Oakland, California). All of the stories in this collection give the reader a good taste of the characters, the setting, and their lives. Of those stories that I mentioned by name, I would absolutely love to see a full length novel about Lady Firebrand's daring adventures and I'm dying for more from the world of "When the Moonlight Isn't Enough". Clayton's story is the only one that features a dash of fantasy and I couldn't get enough. There's so much more that could be explored whether we follow the main character, her parents, or what happens just after the short story in this collection ends.

Overall, The Radical Element edited by Jessica Spotswood is a perfect read for Women's History Month. I love how the authors of the short stories so expertly blend historical fact with fiction (and in one case a dash of fantasy). This anthology is incredibly inspirational and is put together by some of the best names in the business. I absolutely need to pick up a copy of the companion collection called A Tyranny of Petticoats in the future.

Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,086 reviews727 followers
September 27, 2018
This short story collection has been my at-work read for the past month and I read bits every day during lunch at my desk or in our school garden and during our cuddle up and read days in the library when I sit down and read right alongside my students. I can’t speak highly enough of this collection as it brings together 12 amazing female YA authors, shines light on often-unknown elements of history, and features such a wide array of characters of different races, sexualities, gender identities and cultures. Absolutely fabulous.
.
And while I loved all of the stories, I’m not going to tell you which were my favorites…..because my favorite part of the book was the author notes at the end of each chapter that give the factual historical background behind each story. I would absolutely love for a high school English or History teacher to pick this up and use it in classes - it would be such a neat resource to use when discussing certain time periods or issues! That’s one thing I love about collections like this - the opportunity for students to dig into intense topics in manageable bits, rather than sinking an entire month of school into one whole-class novel. Imagine groups of students choosing which story to read and analyzing the impact of the specific issue on US history as a whole, or on women’s rights, or……so many options!
.
I have the other collection edited by Spotswood checked out from the library and can’t wait to dig into it - “A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls” looks to be just as amazing!
Profile Image for Kristen Peppercorn .
531 reviews97 followers
January 30, 2018
I'm not a huge fan of short story collections. To me, they either don't give you enough of the story to feel it was worth your time, or they get you hooked and then leave you wanting more. I decided to request this arc from Netgalley because I am a fan of Jessica Spotswood's writing. Overall, I ended up liking this more than I expected. It was extremely diverse and feminist. Here's my individual ratings for each story:

Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler: 2.5/5
You’re a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee: 2/5
The Magician by Erin Bowman: 3.5/5
Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd: 2/5
Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood: 4/5 (kinda wish this one would have been a full novel)
Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore: 4/5 (beautiful writing, maybe my fave out of all the stories, have a hankering to read more from this author now)
Better for all the World by Marieke Nijkamp: 3/5
When the Moonlight isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton: 4/5 (really good, has me excited to read The Belles)
The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash: 2.75/5
Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee: 3/5
The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina: 2/5
Take Me With U by Sara Farizan: 2/5

Overall rating: 2.9/5 rounded up to 3 stars
Profile Image for Xiomara Canizales.
286 reviews30 followers
March 7, 2018
"If we limit equality, we can never be truly equal"

Rating: 3.5

Anthologies are hard to review and rate.
The stories are short and straight to the point so you are not going to find too much depth in them. The main subject of the stories it is 'girls who find their way in an atmosphere where everything has against them'. I think is the best way I can describe the book in one sentence.
The stories take place in the US, the authors did their best including as much representation as they could, as their own background provide them.
There are a couple stories I didn't enjoy but in general I enjoyed the book.
I haven't read any book of the authors so now I have a much clear idea of their writing style and I hope I can keep reading some more of them.

Setting: US
Profile Image for Marina.
142 reviews14 followers
March 26, 2018
3.5

I was introduced to Jessica Spotswood through her first anthology project A Tyranny of Petticoats, which featured 15 stories about badass women. I don’t remember much of it, but I know I gave it a 3/5 rating because the stories were good and fantastical, but nothing special or memorable for me. I decided to give this one a go since I’m into anthologies lately, and to see if these are better than the first collection. I wasn’t disappointed, but neither was I thrilled.

The stories range from early 19th to late 20th century, all set in USA, and each one featuring a girl or a woman who makes a radical change in her life, be it for her personal gain or the greater good. Each of these women is trodden down by misogyny, racism, religious bigotry, or simply her parents’ strict and cultural views, but each one wins, or gets what she wants in a certain way.

These stories are equally good as in the first collection, but unfortunately (for me) there’s much, much less magical and supernatural in this one – almost none.


The Stories

Daughter of the Book (1838, Savannah, Georgia) – Dahlia Adler

An interesting story about the challenges Jewish women faced in their closed community, not allowed to learn and do as much as men. 4/5



You’re a stranger here (1844, Nauvoo, Illinois) – Mackenzi Lee

A portray of the terrible ordeal Mormons went through around the time their leader, Joseph Smith, was murdered, and how difficult it was to preserve their belief and persevere through constant persecution. 3/5



The Magician (1858, Colorado River, New Mexico Territory) – Erin Bowman

A young orphan girl cheats in cards and poses as a boy to get a better pay, trying to collect enough money to go search for her family. 3.5/5



Lady Firebrand (1863, Charleston, South Carolina) – Megan Shepherd

This one was my favorite. Rose, a rich white girl in a wheelchair, and Pauline, her African American friend posing as a maid travel to south in the middle of the Civil War, where they become Union spies, duping the Confederates by destroying their weapon supplies. 5/5



Step right up (1905, Tulsa, Indian Territory) – Jessica Spotswood

This one is about a girl who dreams of becoming a tightrope walker and joining the circus, while coping with her abusive stepfather and indifferent mother. 4/5



Glamour (1923, Los Angeles, California) – Anna-Marie McLemore

During the golden age of Hollywood, a Latina girl tries her best to change herself, her roots, and her skin so she can fit in with the American belles and become a star. 3/5



Better for all the world (1927, Washington, D.C.) – Marieke Nijkamp

This one is about mental illness, at the time still not researched enough, and even feared of, which drove the people and the state to commit some horrible and unforgiving acts like convicting a girl to sterilization so she can’t spread the illness by reproduction. 3/5



When the moonlight isn’t enough (1943, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts) – Dhonielle Clayton

African American family of three persists for 200 years by preserving and drinking moonlight. They spend several years in one place, then run away in fear of people uncovering their secret. They plan to do so again, as WW2 is raging over the Atlantic, but their daughter is tired of running and being 16 for two consecutive centuries. 4/5



The belle of the ball (1952, Brooklyn, New York) – Sarvenaz Tash

The 1950s in USA weren’t known as a place equal for men and women, which Rosemary feels on her own skin as she struggles to become a comedy script writer against the conservative and bigoted mind of her family and elders. 3/5



Land of the sweet, home of the brave (1955, Oakland, California) – Stacey Lee

A Japanese girl competes at a talent show where the main prize is to have your image featured on the sugar packaging, and she beats some racial prejudice ass along the way. 4/5



The birth of Susi go-go (1972, Queens, New York) – Meg Medina

An interesting story of Susana, a Cuban refugee, struggling between her religious and prejudiced parents’ approval and the desire to fit in with an entirely different culture. 4/5



Take me with U (1984, Boston, Massachusetts) – Sara Farizan

Sohelia was sent by her parents from Iran to her cousins’ home in Boston to escape the war. She copes with her longing and loss by making friends and joining a punk band against the wishes of her prejudiced aunt. 3.5/5



While these stories were diverse regarding the characters (which was the point of this anthology), this one didn’t feel as particularly diverse with settings and the stories as was the first collection. Because of that I was bored while reading a few entries, they simply lacked something. Nevertheless, I still plan to read Spotswood’s next collection, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, because I prefer supernatural stories, and that one seems more suitable for me.

A thank-you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The review is also available on my blog Books of Magic
Profile Image for Lucie.
825 reviews90 followers
February 5, 2018
Actual rating: 3.83 stars (you do get weird ratings when you read anthologies)

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewing and rating anthologies is usually tricky, because you can't always love all of the short stories they are made of; yet, for The Radical Element, I can say that I enjoyed all of them and that the messages the anthology was trying to get through were executed well. The Radical Element is an empowering read that focuses on young women who didn't fit within the norms of society, who were marginalized and learnt to respect and step up for themselves.

The short stories manage to make you learn historical details you might not have suspected, especially since the stories of those young women would be stories erased from the records of history. In a way, it puts the stress that history was made as much by women than by men, even though so many of them had to work in the shadows (for that, I'm considering Lady Firebrand, which was one of my favourite stories) and thanks to some of the authors' notes, you might even get recommendations for non-fiction history books on women.

As I'm more interested in the 19th century than in the 20th century, I have to confess that I loved the short stories set from 1838 to 1927 more, because those are set in time periods that compel me, but that's personal preference and they all were pretty good. My personal favourites were Lady Firebrand by Megan Sheperd, Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore and Better for all the world by Marieke Nijkamp. Some of them include fantasy elements, which I really loved, considering mixing history and fantasy is one of my favourite things. I discovered several new authors through this anthology and will make sure to check some of their novels out.

Another thing I loved was that it didn't have a lot of romance, it was sometimes hinted, it was sometimes shown, but it wasn't the focus of the story, it was more about growing on your own. I would have liked to see more f/f romances though, it was hinted once in Step Right Up and there was a f/f romance between secondary characters in Take Me With U, but I wanted a bit more.

Now, I have to say that if you read the stories one after the other without reading anything else on the side, the endings of most of them must feel a bit repetitive, but it goes along with the main message of this anthology: it's about getting through obstacles that prevent you to be who you are and embracing your difference and that's such an important idea. I believe that this anthology should be read by as many young women as possible, to show them that they got this and that they can dare dreaming and fighting for what they want.

The representation in this book is fantastic – or that's what I felt, but for that, it's important to check out what #ownvoices reviewers have to say – and quite a few of those short stories were #ownvoices. This anthology is an accurate representation of what it is to be American when you feel like you're not wanted, when you're different from what the norm wants you to be: it tells the stories of women of colour, disabled women, women from different religions. It is an amazing example of the diversity young adult literature has been getting and what it deserves.

Overall, The Radical Element is one of the best YA anthologies I got to read, alongside A Tyranny of Petticoats which is its close second (it makes sense, considering A Tyranny of Petticoats was edited by Jessica Spotswood and focused on similar themes). It delivers such important messages and might have a lasting impact on young adults who will read it, as its heroines were relatable and might make you want to fight harder to defend what you believe in.



Individual ratings of the stories:

1838, Savannah, Georgia – Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler 4/5 stars

1844, Nauvoo, Illinois – You're a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee 3/5 stars

1858, Colorado River, New Mexico Territory – The Magician by Erin Bowman 3.5/5 stars

1863, Charleston, South Caroline – Lady Firebrand by Megan Sheperd 5/5 stars

1905, Tulsa, Indian Territory – Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood 4/5 stars

1923, Los Angeles and the Central Valley, California – Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore 5/5 stars

1927, Washington, D.C. - Better for all the world by Marieke Nijkamp 5/5 stars

1943, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts – When the moonlight isn't enough by Dhonielle Clayton 3/5 stars

1952, Brooklyn, New York – The Belle of the Ball by Sarvena Tash 3.5/5 stars

1955, Oakland, California – Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee 3/5 stars

1972, Queens, New York – The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina 3.5/5 stars

1984, Boston, Massachusetts – Take Me With U by Sarah Farizan 3.5/5 stars
Profile Image for Skyeler.
68 reviews28 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 17, 2018
I will be updating this review for each story I finish, and will post my complete review after I complete the anthology, so stay tuned!

Daughter of the Book
Dahlia Adler
2 stars
While this story was incredibly insightful into Jewish tradition and belief, I found it bland and forgetful. I think it's an important story to show women and the struggles of religion they faced/still face in some places today, but I felt I was reading a history lesson rather than a fictional story. However, I liked the conclusion and author's note.

You're a Stranger Here
Mackenzi Lee
4 stars
This was a great insight into the origins and trials of the early LDS church. It definitely deepened my understanding of how much violence they faced at the start, and how confident and unwavering they had to remain in their faith. It saddens me to think about how people still aren't accepting of all religions, but it makes me happy to know that this particular one survived and thrived, contrary to our protagonist's, Vilatte, beliefs. I really enjoyed this one and thought Mackenzi Lee did a great job!

The Magician
Erin Bowman
4.5 stars
Oh, I really loved this one. Ray has definitely become my favorite protagonist so far in this anthology, she was brave and smart and awesome. I really loved the concept and thought that the overall plot was done really well and had a complete arc throughout the story. This one is my favorite thus far, I'm having a lot of fun reading these girls' stories, and would definitely be interested in picking up some of Erin's other works in the future!

Lady Firebrand
Megan Shepherd
5 stars
Best friends spying for the Union during the Civil War by creating a false persona? Yes please. I absolutely loved this story, and would love for it to be a full-fledged novel! I loved the friendship between Rose and Pauline, and the disability rep we saw in this story. It really was a hopeful story that proved anyone can do anything. The setting felt authentic and everything was well established and self-aware. Amazing!

Step Right Up
Jessica Spotswood
3.5 stars
This was a fun story, full of lush descriptions of the circus. And I was happy to finally see some gay girls, I'm quite frankly surprised it took this long for any to show up in this anthology! However, I feel that there wasn't much plot or substance to the story, besides a girl running away to join the circus, which somewhat hindered my enjoyment. I still really appreciated the story for what it was, though!

Glamour
Anna-Marie McleMore
2 stars
Ok. This was a bit of a mess. It honestly pains me to say that, because I've heard nothing but good things about Anna-Marie McleMore, and appreciate the story she was trying to tell, but it just fell flat for me. I think there's definitely a balance you have to find in short stories when it comes to creating a plot, and this one just felt a little too large for the time allotted. However, I did really love all of the different representation in this story! Our main character, Grace or Graciela, is a Mexican girl struggling to make it in an incredibly racist place/time period. There's a trans love interest with a disability, which I LOVED the rep for, but also feel like it wasn't executed well? I was also not a huge fan of the writing, and usually I love lush, beautiful, writing, but this was a little too abstract for me. However, I am definitely willing to give one of her primary works a chance because I'm sure I'd enjoy that a lot more!

Better for All the World
Marieke Nijkamp
5 stars
YES. YES. I LOVED IT. I loved how this story focused on a young woman with a passion for legal affairs in a time when women weren't generally desirably as lawyers. I loved how Carrie developed throughout this whole story, and realized how strong she really was. I loved how the horror of eugenics in this time period was exposed, and how Marieke Nijkamp used a real life case to do it. I loved the feminist themes underlying this whole story. So well done and flawlessly executed. Once again, I loved it!

When the Moonlight Isn't Enough
Dhonielle Clayton
5 stars
Oh, I loved this one. I loved the magical aspects to it, as well as how it focused on something that's commonly overlooked in American history, which was people of color's role in WWII. I loved Emma as our main character, and thought the story was so well done overall. Also, I really liked Dhonielle Clayton's writing! Can't wait to pick up The Belles by her!

Up next:
The Belle of the Ball
Sarvenaz Tash
Profile Image for Alex.
609 reviews65 followers
March 11, 2018
This is a shortened version - read the full review on my blog.

LGBTQAI+: Sapphic main and side characters in a couple of stories, and a transgender man LI in one
Sex on page: No

I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have so much love to give to this anthology.

At first glance, I loved the way the stories are in a chronological order, and the year + setting is clearly stated right before every story. Then I started reading, and I’m not kidding when I say that I fell in love with every single one of these heroines. The quality of writing in this anthology was through the roof – I was taken in by every single story. I also loved the author’s notes at the end of each story, which included many things: the real historical context, the research that went into the stories, how the experience of the characters relates to the authors’ experiences, and sometimes even recommended further reading.

As soon as I finished reading, I went on Goodreads to look up the other books by these authors and add most of them to my TBR.

While I kinda wish more of the stories had queer characters, I still didn’t mind in this case since the religious, racial and neurodivergent diversity was amazing. Many of the stories didn’t have romance at all, or there were hints of future romance, but the ambition of the girls took priority (for now). Still, there were some great male (future) love interests that I fell in love with.

(See my blog for individual short reviews of all 12 stories.)

Final rating: 📚📚📚📚📚/5
Profile Image for thepessimisticreader.
268 reviews39 followers
December 11, 2020
4.25 stars

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

1838: Savanah, Georgia
Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler
⭐️⭐️⭐️
Interesting and educational about the Jewish faith, I did not know that women were not allowed to learn the Books of the Torah. There was very little action and it seemed to end abruptly.

1844: Nauvoo, Illinois
You're a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee
⭐️⭐️⭐️
The main character is very interesting, it's informational about the creation of the Mormon faith, and there was even a bit of an action sequence.

1858: Color Ado River, New Mexico Territory
The Magician by Erin Bowman
⭐️⭐️⭐️
It takes a certain kind of magician to count cards. It takes a certain kind of magician to disguise herself as a man. There was an interesting plot twist but it didn't make me reel like it would have if this was a full length novel.

1863: Charleston, South Carolina
Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd
⭐️⭐️⭐️
I found it too fast-paced and hard to follow or connect to a character. If it were longer, I would enjoy it much more. The short length made it seem like plot points were popping up from out of nothing.

1905: Tulsa, Indian Territory
Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This short story brought about heavily imagined feelings of nostalgia about wanting to join the circus. I really want to walk a tightrope now so I feel that this story did an excellent job of making me relate to the main character even though we are nothing alike and have nothing in common.

1923: Los Angeles and the Central Valley, California
Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Very unexpected but this was a beautiful short story overall. The romance is where its at and old Hollywood is portrayed in equal parts classic and seedy. The love interest is transgender, which caught me off guard so I had to reread some passages, but I really enjoyed it. The fantasy aspect seems a bit out of place but I'll accept it in exchange for the diverse representation.

1927: Washington, D.C
Better For All The World by Marieke Nijkamp
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was very pleasantly surprised by this story. It has educated me on the subject of eugenics, which I have never given much thought to. In researching Carrie Buck, I found this story well-written and touching.

1943: Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts
When the Moonlight Isn't Enough by Dhonielle Clayton
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Think: Tuck Everlasting. I felt such raw emotion through the duration of this story. The characters struggle with living in a country that they love and they hate. Torn between fighting for their home or letting it burn to the ground. I'm a white girl, so this is not written for me to relate to, but I am touched by it, and am glad to have read it.

1952: Brooklyn, New York
The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This was a really cute, charming read that mirrors the life of I Love Lucy's Lucille Ball. It remarks on the idea that "women are not funny" in a fresh, funny way.

1955: Oakland, California
Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This may be my favourite part of this anthology. I typically do not like funny books, especially when they try to be funny or relatable. This features the perfectly balanced comedic stylings of an Asian American beauty queen. Hollywood and Hawaii may be the perfect vibe.

1972: Queens, New York
The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Once again, I was not expecting to be educated while reading this book. The main character is Cuban, and struggles with family loyalty in the face of Western independence. I found it to be an unbiased rendering politically, while the character makes heartfelt connections with her Cuban family and her life in the United States, and broaches the unrest between the two countries.

1984: Boston, Massachusetts
Take Me with U by Sara Farizan
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Educational. Interesting family dynamic, and it straddles the culture/language barrier between Iran and the United States in a explanative way to help the reader out a bit. The ending was a bit rushed and not quite as tidy as others. I found that it was a weak way to end the novel, but I tend to dislike most novels/biographies/short stories about bands or musicians. It's just not my jam. Ignore me.

The first four short stories in this anthology did not really wow me, but they were set in the nineteenth century (which isn't really my jam either) I nearly gave up on the read before I got to "Step Right Up" (1905) and found a character that I related to.

I like the way this book was formatted. Chronological order looks very polished and clean, yet I think leading with two religious narratives may be a bit off-putting because statistically, Christianity (33%) and Islam (21%) dominate the distribution of people within religion. Judaism only occupies 0.22%. Additionally, younger generations fall into the Undecided/Unspecified category (16%) more often than not (John Hawkins, How The World Works: Religion). Personally, it was Daughter of the Book and You're a Stranger Here that made me want to put the book down. They could have been cut from the anthology and it I feel would make it more enjoyable to the intended audience.

But from another person's perspective, they may find the entrance to this anthology refreshing, or they may have been drawn to it because of the religious fiction. Every one has a unique preference, and that's a-okay.

You may prefer to read the book a tiny bit out of order if you feel a certain way.

That said, I am beyond glad that I did not put this book down because once I got over that initial slump, it was fantastic.

Land of the Sweet and Home of the Brave was definitely my favourite. It was humorous, salty in the best way and I kind of want to be best friends with the main character. She handles her struggles with such a pleasant, sarcastic bite. I need to read more from Stacey Lee.

Better For All the World is my second favourite. I did not connect so much with the character because we don't really know much about her, but the story is set around an actual court case regarding sterilization of a woman named Carrie Buck who was deemed "unfit" to be a parent. I never gave much thought to ablism, not when movements like gay rights, feminism, or #blacklivesmatter get so much attention. It definitely gives you something to think about. Is it better for all the world if we take away the body autonomy of the few? The short answer in 1927 was yes. Carrie Buck lost her court case. There's now speculation as to if Carrie was "simple" at all, or if she was a fall girl for the American Justice system as precedent to cheat people out of body autonomy. Nowadays, this is still a controversial topic, as even corpses are allowed body autonomy, and any removal of organs or stem cells must have written consent from the deceased. Sorry for the essay, but I found this very interesting.

Each of the short stories, even the ones I did not enjoy, were unexpectedly and pleasantly educational.

It was unbelievably diverse in all aspects, sexual and gender identity, race, religion, ablism, socioeconomic standings, and it touches a bit on international political matters. There are fantasy aspects in some of the stories, others are entirely realistic. I truly believe that there is something here for everyone, no matter what your preference is.

This is feminism done right.

Now, unfortunately, I have never read the first instalment of this anthology, so I have to go find it right now. Happy reading, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!
Profile Image for Keri.
110 reviews49 followers
March 13, 2018
The Radical Element is a collection of short fictional stories that gives unique glances into lives that aren’t usually thought about when one reflects on history. Reading these tales, I found that they both inspired me and made me laugh, which in my opinion are some of the best things that books can do. I’m typically not one to pick up short story collections, so I was surprised to find myself enjoying this book far more than I expected to.

This books consists of 12 short stories from the YA authors Dahlia Adler, Mackenzi Lee, Erin Bowman, Megan Shepherd, Jessica Spotswood, Anna-Marie McLemore, Marieke Nijkamp, Dhonielle Clayton, Sarvenaz Tash, Stacey Lee, Meg Medina, and Sara Farizan,. The earliest story takes place in 1838 with the latest one being in 1984. All of these tales zoomed in on a particular defining moment of their protagonist’s lives.

Here are all of my mini summaries/reviews for each of the stories:

1. “Daughter of the Book” by Dahlia Adler— follows Rebekah, a girl who thrives on learning and wants more than her expected future as housewife in her religious community. Sadly, this first story was my least favorite. It was very telling and the writing wasn’t very engaging.

2. “You’re a Stranger Here” by Mackenzi Lee— is about Vilatte, a young teenager struggling with her identity and beliefs in one of the first Mormon communities. The writing was very compelling and I loved how Mackenzi Lee expressed Vilatte’s struggle and confusion with her beliefs.

3. “The Magician” by Erin Bowman— follows Ray, a skilled cards player, who spends her days pretending to be a boy so she can earn enough money to follow the Gold Rush to California. I thought the character development was written perfectly. This was one of my favorite stories of the collection.

4. “Lady Firebrand” by Megan Shepherd— this story gave me Scarlett Pimpernel vibes and I loved it. I also found it really interesting to get the perspective of a wheel-bound character from the late 1800’s.

5. “Step Right Up” by Jessica Spotswood— this story focus on Ruby and her love of the Archer Brothers, a traveling circus in 1905. It was a compelling read but I felt that it was rushed and the problem was too easily resolved. I wish it had been better fleshed out.

6. “Glamour” by Anna-Marie McLemore— magic and Hollywood, need I say more? No, but seriously, this story was fabulously diverse and held such an important message. This story made me want to pick up more of McLemore’s works.

7. “Better For All World” by Marieke Nijkamp— follows Carrie, an autistic young woman who wants to study law. This story was amazing and the perfect speed. I often feel that short stories rush their plot or don’t cover enough, but this story was superb. I also loved how it was interwoven with a real court case (Buck v. Bell).

8. “When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough” by Dhonielle Clayton— this story was definitely unique. It hones in on Massachusetts during WWII but follows characters that are centuries old. Though it was a really interesting concept and I love fantastical elements, I felt that this immortality attribute hindered the “punch” of the story and weakened the story.

9. “The Belle of the Ball” by Sarvenaz Tash— aaaah, this story was so funny! It follows Rosemary, a high school student who wants to be a comedic writer in the time when women aren’t considered “funny”. Though I enjoyed Rosemary as a protagonist, I wish the story had been developed more. The arc of the story seemed a bit weak.

10. “Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave” by Stacey Lee— this story follows Lana, an Asian/Hawaiian girl trying out to become the next “Sugar Maiden” (think posterchild for a sugar company). This girl was fierce and a total sass master. I breezed through this story and I was devastated when the story ended and I could no longer read from Lana’s perspective.

11. “The Birth of Susi Go-Go” by Meg Medina— Susana, a young Cuban immigrant, struggles to balance her culture and her family while also finding her identity in New York. This story was mediocre and I felt like much didn’t happened, but I will say that I completely loved the ending.

12. “Take Me With U” by Sara Farizen— the final story of this anthology follows Soheila, a young teenager who comes to live with her aunt and uncle during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980’s. I loved the prominence of friendship in this tale. I also appreciated seeing Soheila’s development as she learned to stand up for herself. Definitely a solid ending to the anthology!

Honestly, I enjoyed the majority of these stories and considered a lot of them to be worthy of 4/4.5 stars. Truly, there were only a couple of stories that I didn’t enjoy. Overall, my favorites included “The Magician” by Erin Bowman, “Lady Firebrand” by Megan Shepherd, “Glamour” by Anna-Marie McLemore, and “Better For All the World” by Marieke Nijkamp.

Originally when I went into this anthology, I thought that all the stories were going to be purely historical fiction, but I was quite pleased to fine that a good chunk of them contained magical realism or fantastical elements. Other than my individual critiques of the short stories, my only criticism for The Radical Element is that I wish that more of the stories were based on real people. Yes, all of them revolved around real, historical events, but only one story, “Daughter of the Book”, featured a person that actually existed. I felt that this anthology would have had a bigger punch and been more influential if I known that there were badass women that actually did these things throughout history.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, short story collections, or simply wants more feminist reads in their lives. I’m definitely intrigued enough to put the first anthology, A Tyranny of Petticoats, on my TBR. The world can never be too full of tales of badass women and I can’t wait to read more!

***I received a free ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You can see this review, my other reviews & additional bookish posts at my blog: Are You My Book?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1/24/2018:
Yessssss, I just got approved for this on Netgalley! :)
Profile Image for Ingrid.
144 reviews18 followers
April 19, 2018
** An ARC is generously provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review **

Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler - 3 stars.
This story is about a Jewish education. I really enjoyed our main character Rebekah Wolf, but didn't care for the love interest or the plot that much.

You're a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee - 3.5 stars.
This story focuses on the Mormon history. I enjoyed the writing style but wasn't fully invested in the plot.

The Magician by Erin Bowman - 5 stars.
I really enjoyed this story. Ray is an amazing character, and I was very invested in her story. I felt that the author hinted that Ray might be gender fluid, but it was never fully discussed. I'm very interested in reading more of her work.

Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd - 5 stars.
This was soooo good. The story is set in South Carolina and deals with racism. Our main characters consists of a white girl in a wheelchair and a free black girl. Both of them were amazing badass characters and I was super invested in their story. I'm very interested in picking up more from this author.

Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood - 4 stars.
This story is about a girl and her wish to join the circus. I enjoyed the descriptions of the circus, and the fact that the main character was a lesbian. Trigger warning for abuse.

Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore - 3.5 stars.
I really enjoyed the writing of this one. The concept was very interesting, I would love to see this story as a whole novel. The ending was a big let down for me, it felt a bit rushed. This story has a lot of diversity including a Mexican-American main character and a transgender side character with a disability.

Better For All the World by Marieke Nijkamp - 5 stars.
I loved everything about this. Our main character Carrie was amazing, the story was great, the writing was good and I feel like I learned something after reading this. It definitely made me think.

When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton - 3 stars.
I liked the main character, but I felt disconnected to the story. I liked the concept, but I wish things were explained a bit more.

The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash - 2 stars.
I finished this book a few days ago, and I struggled to remember what this story was about. There was a lot of references to Love Lucy, and I don't know what that is. I did like our main character, but I felt the story overall was forgettable.

Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee - 4.5 stars.
The main character in this story was amazing, I would have loved to be her friend. The writing was good and funny, I would love to read more from this author. I got to learn about the aftermath of Japanese internment and the history of Asian-Americans in Hawaii, which I really enjoyed.

The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina - 2.5 stars.
This just wasn't for me. It dragged on a bit, and everything felt predictable.

Take Me With U by Sara Farizan - 3 stars.
I liked the Iranian aspect of this story, but the music part just wasn't for me. I think a lot of people will like this one, but to me it was just ok.

That brings my average rating to about 3.67, so I'm rounding it up to a 4.
Profile Image for Dawnie.
1,165 reviews124 followers
April 5, 2018
*Thanks to Netgalley, the Publisher and the authors for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for a free and honest review!*

I thought i would love this book way more than i ended up doing. But on the other hand i honestly expected this anthology collection to be a bit more... science based? Maybe that is my mistake from taking the title to literally.

All 12 stories in this book are good. They are interesting, they show great parts of American history that should be mentioned more often, especially in the points of views that this book shows them in. But not one story was great for me. They all where okay, or good. But non of them stood out to me in the way that i can even now, seconds after finishing the book, say that one specific story was the best one for me.
And that is kind of sad, even if its one of my most common problems with reading anthologies or short story collections in general and one of the reasons i stopped reading them for years.

What i do have to say that i LOVED in this book are the authors notes after each story.
I loved getting a little snipped on why the author decided on that specific moment in time, on that character, on that little section of history. And honestly those are the "stories" that i can actually remember from this book.

So either those where better written, or i just found those background infos way more interesting than the actual stories.

take from that what you will.

Also i have to mentioned again that i am so disappointed that there is basically non science girl power in this book!
Which makes me a huge fallen on the frosting kind of disappointed cupcake!
The title screams to me that at least half of the stories in this book should be all about females going strong in chemistry, physics, engineering or anything else that is related to science! I can't remember if even one story had actual science elements in them. If they didn't it clearly wasn't very memorable to me personally.
Now for some that might be nit-picking or complaining about nothing. BUT i honestly think that too few stories share the women that fought for their place in the science world -still have to today.
And if you are naming an anthology about strong woman "radical element" i expect something Science-y in it! (could just be me, still disappointing to me)


Overall its not a bad anthology.
But i think it lacks the stand out part, especially in comparison to the first anthology that is said to be "part one" to this second book.

The title is misleading, which i always hate, and while i think that all authors did a good job and had great reasons for the stories they picked... i just wasn't not taking with this book overall.

Still its a good book and worth a try.
Profile Image for Greyson | Use Your Words.
538 reviews34 followers
October 2, 2018
A Tyranny of Petticoats Series Ratings:
A Tyranny of Petticoats: TBR
The Radical Element: ★★★★


Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

We need empathy now more than ever. We need to read stories about, and especially by, voices that have been traditionally silenced and erased from history. We need curious, open-minded, open-hearted teenagers (and adults!) like you.

The Radical Element is an anthology dedicated to the girls who refuse to play the roles life has assigned to them. It follows American history with stories starting from 1838-1984, with main characters from different backgrounds and religions and some stories with a dash of magic mixed in. Many of the stories are #ownvoices which was amazing to see!
I loved every second of this anthology, and am once again reminded how much I love to read them. I’ll be racing to read the first anthology in this series!

Daughter of the Book
by Dahlia Adler
3.5 ★'s

You’re a Stranger Here
by Mackenzie Lee
5 ★'s

The Magician
by Erin Bowman
4 ★'s

Lady Firebrand
by Megan Shepherd
4 ★'s

Step Right Up
by Jessica Spotswood
4 ★'s

Glamour
by Anna-Marie McLemore
5 ★'s

Better For All the World
by Marieke Nijkamp
5 ★'s

When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough
by Dhonielle Clayton
3.5 ★'s

The Belle of the Ball
by Sarvenaz Tash
5 ★'s

Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave
by Stacey Lee
4 ★'s

The Birth of Susi Go-Go
by Meg Medina
3.5 ★'s

Take Me With U
by Sara Farizan
3.5 ★'s

I really loved this anthology! I enjoyed reading the authors note after each story, which gave us a glimpse into the authors themselves and the history that their stories are based on.
The Radical Element is an incredibly diverse collection of determined young women in historical settings and I loved every minute of it!

I read this book as part of my 2018 Library Love binge, where I read as many library books as possible to take advantage of my great local library network before I move interstate!
___
BlogInstagramTwitterTumblr
Profile Image for Shenwei.
462 reviews223 followers
March 19, 2018
a few of the stories took a while to get into/didn't engage my interest as much but overall, I enjoyed the anthology and appreciated the inclusion of multiple WOC, whose stories were what made the anthology for me.

if there's another anthology like this one I would hope to see Native girls' and trans girls' voices & stories included.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,891 reviews1,208 followers
March 16, 2018
Last year I reviewed A Tyranny of Petticoats , which came on my radar because I received it in a Book Mail box from Book Riot. When I saw The Radical Element on NetGalley, I wanted to see how the second volume of this anthology series compared. Thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the eARC! I adored this book for what it is, and while I didn’t love every story, it was a great end-of-the-week read.

The Radical Element is also edited by Jessica Spotswood, but you don’t need to have read A Tyranny of Petticoats to read this book. All of the short stories are self-contained and separate from the stories of the first book. The concept is much the same, however: the 12 stories herein are all about girls who are in some way “radical” for their time and place, and they typically follow a structure of the girl taking agency over her life and choosing, whether by striking out or striking back or some combination, to stand against society’s constraining expectations for her.

I’m not going to review each story individually, as I did last time. Honestly, the first few stories were OK but didn’t enthrall me. Part of that was just the settings—I have little interest in nineteenth century America, in the so-called “wild west” milieu, so those stories were already at a disadvantage with me. I know it had an effect, because I became much better-disposed towards the stories by the time we hit 1943. And I think the last story, “Take Me With U”, by Sara Farizan and set in 1984 Boston, was my favourite, both because of the time and the plot.

That being said, whatever your mileage on the various stories and their periods, the concept as a whole is well done here. By showcasing a different setting in each story, Spotswood reminds us that women have always fought. Women didn’t suddenly become scrappy, strong, liberation-minded people in the 1920s or 1930s or 1940s or whichever decade you personally want to stick a pin as the “start” of feminism or whatever. Women and girls have always fought for recognition, independence, autonomy, and we do them a disservice if we generalize our history to say, “Back in the ____, women had no power”. It is always, always more complicated than that.

In a similar vein, different stories feature different ways of fighting back. Some of the protagonists are physically combative; they defend themselves and use force, if necessary, to get their way. Some use wit, charm, or reasoning. Others find allies and escape, or simply slip away, an apologetic note all they leave as a trace of their presence. The Radical Element reminds us not to reduce “strong women” down to a single phrase or single idea. There are so many ways to be strong.

Also, this is a very diverse book, both in terms of its authors and its characters. There are Jewish, Mormon, Christian, and Muslim protagonists. There are white girls and Black girls and Mexican girls. There are abled and disabled girls. It’s a refreshing pantheon.

My critiques for the book aren’t really of the book itself, just areas where it doesn’t align with my own particular interests. Like I said above, not huge on some of the historical periods. Not huge on the focus on the United States (but again, that’s just the premise of the whole anthology, so I’m not here to criticize that). I really liked the one or two stories that include a little bit of magic in them, because I found that interesting. Magic always improves my historical fiction! Again, these are all just personal preferences, so if yours differ, you might love this book to bits. Or hate it entirely!

Still, if you at all are interested in 12 dynamic stories featuring 12 diverse girls in 12 different time periods in the United States, then really, you should give The Radical Element a shot. I want to see more books like this, more stories like these ones. Even if they aren’t always to my tastes, I know there are readers out there who will find these stories inspiring and entertaining. These are stories that should be told, and I am here for that.

Creative Commons BY-NC License
Want to read
April 11, 2018
**I received an ARC of this book thanks to NetGalley, and am very grateful for the opportunity to review this free of charge.**

The Radical Element, edited by Jessica Spotswood, is a short-story anthology about women living radically in their specific time period or setting. I’d been eagerly awaiting this anthology, especially after reading such a great one recently.
The main reason I requested this book was because of the addition of a story by Anna-Marie McLemore. However, I requested it with the intention of reading the full extent of it, since I'd read "All Out," another anthology with various authors I enjoyed reading about.
When I first started reading, I was turned off by the format of the file I was sent, which didn't allow me to use the table of contents and the chapters bled into each other. Which meant I was surprised to find that it was on a chronological order. I didn't mind it until I started reading the book.
The first story, "Daughter of the Book" by Dahlia Adler, was supposed to hook me, and I'm not saying it wasn't a good story: I found it fascinating. I thought the development of more women in positions to get education was really interesting to read. The fact that it was a Jewish girl trying to pave a way for herself wa
s radical, especially for the setting in 1838. However, it wasn't sufficient to tide me over.
This feeling bled into the next story, "You're a Stranger Here" by Mackenzi Lee. The story followed a Mormon girl working in a print shop in charge of transcribing one of Joseph Smith's last texts. I was disappointed by this story because it kept dragging on, and by the end it felt clunky in the way it felt mostly expositional rather than telling me more about the main character. It was even more so disappointing by the fact that I actually loved Lee's story in "All Out."
After that, I skipped to Anna-Marie McLemore's story, "Glamour." Set in 1923, in a place I was already familiar with thanks to "The Weight of Feathers," we followed a Mexican girl living in Los Angeles as an actress. Grace, or rather, Graciela Morena, possesses the power to glamour herself as someone different. Similar to how Latinx populations are forced to assimilate into White America, Grace finds herself using her powers for the same reason and to be able to become a movie star. The main character was compelling, the lore and magical realism of the piece was excellent as always. I'd say this story could serve as a jumping off point to analyze magical realism in contemporary media as well as within the canon of Anna-Marie's texts. It has the basics of of a classic McLemore story: Latina girl, a trans boy, magical realism, commentary of the exploitation of latinx bodies, and fantastic writing. I would've liked to read her story first, but I think the editor wouldn't want to follow the footsteps of "All Out," of course.
Those were the three stories I read, which I know it's not enough to call judgement upon the anthology, but I would've preferred a different way to organize the stories. I understand it was logical to put them in chronological order since they're supposed to be historical fiction, but I don't think it was the right call. Eventually, I'll get into the other stories, but these were the ones I was able to get into. I am, however, giving Anna-Marie McLemore a 5/5 for general existence and writing abilities.
Profile Image for Isabella.
397 reviews102 followers
March 31, 2018
Tatsächliche Bewertung: 3,7 Sterne. Es leben die krummen Zahlen von Anthologien!

Spaß beiseite: Wenn ihr gerne historische Fiktion lest, die nicht nur Geschichten umfasst, die schon tausend Mal erzählt wurden, dann seid ihr hier richtig. Zwölf Autorinnen sind zusammen gekommen, um zwölf Geschichten zu schreiben, die allesamt von Mädchen erzählen, die sich den Erwartungen ihrer Zeit nicht fügen wollen, die für ihren Platz in der Welt kämpfen. Die Geschichten sind chronologisch geordnet und spielen von 1838 - 1984 zwar allesamt in den USA, könnten aber inhaltlich nicht unterschiedlicher sein. In manchen Geschichten findet sich magischer Realismus (Dhonielle Clayton, Anna-Marie McLemore), andere repräsentieren verstärkt Religionen (Mormonen, Juden etc.) und wieder andere stellen autistische Protagonistinnen (Marieke Nijkamp) oder queere Charaktere ins Rampenlicht. Besonders schön ist, dass auch die Autorinnen nicht allesamt weiß und heterosexuell ist und darüber hinaus eigene Erfahrungen teilen. Gerade, da die Geschichten sich tendenziell unbekannteren geschichtlichen Ereignissen widmeten, hatte ich immer wieder mehr Informationen nachgelesen und das Gefühl, einen wirklichen Mehrwert aus dieser Anthologie mitgenommen zu haben. Sind alle Geschichten perfekt? Keinesfalls. Aber es sind wirklich einige Schätzchen hier dabei.

Einzelwertungen:
1) Daughter of the Book – Dahlia Adler: 3,5 Sterne
2) You're a Stranger Here – Mackenzi Lee: 3,5 Sterne
3) The Magician – Erin Bowman: 4 Sterne
4) Lady Firebird – Megan Shepherd: 4 Sterne
5) Step Right Up – Jessica Spotswood: 5 Sterne (Rubys Traum ist es, Teil des Zirkus' zu werden, den sie Jahr für Jahr besucht. Doch zuerst muss sie den Klauen des Missbrauchs durch ihren Onkel entkommen.)
6) Glamour – Anna-Marie McLemore: 4,5 Sterne
"But if you wear too much of somebody else's colors, there's none of you left."

7) Better for all the World – Marieke Nijkamp: 5 Sterne (Ein Mädchen wird aufgrund ihres Autismus von der Gesellschaft verpönt. Für sie umso mehr ein Grund, sich für die Rechte anderer einzusetzen, die keine Stimme haben.)
8) When the Moonlight Isn't Enough – Dhonielle Clayton: 3,5 Sterne
9) The Belle of the Ball – Sarvenaz Tash: 5 Sterne (Rosemary will Drehbuchautorin werden – doch die Industrie weigert sich, Frauen einzustellen.)
10) Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave – Stacey Lee: 2,5 Sterne
11) The Birth of Susi Go-Go – Meg Medina: 2 Sterne
A book can bring bad dreams, but memories are more efficient enemies.

12) Take Me With You – Sara Farizan: 2 Sterne
Profile Image for Bright Star.
388 reviews125 followers
March 7, 2018
I received an ARC copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Radical Element was the second anthology in the series of Tyranny of Petticoats and follows the stories of girls "who were outsiders and/or radical in their communities, whether by virtue of their race, religion, sexuality, disability, gender, or the profession they were pursuing" and did everything in their power to change their life for the better, following their dreams and hopes.

It was a good collection of short stories. Some I loved more than others, but in general they were all worth reading.

Daughter of the book - Dahlia Adler 4/5
You're a stranger here - Mackenzi Lee 2/5
The Magician - Erin Bowman 4/5
Lady Firebrand - Megan Shepherd 5/5
Step Right Up - Jessica Spotswood 4/5
Glamour - Anna Marie McLemore 2/5
Better for all the world - Marieke Nijkamp. 2.5/5
When the moonlight isn't enough - Dhonielle Clayton 4/5
The Belle of the ball - Sarvenaz Tash 3/5
Land of the sweet, home of the brave - Stacey Lee 2.75/5
The birth of Susi go-go - Meg Medina 3/5
Take Me with U - Sara Farizan 3/5
Displaying 1 - 29 of 289 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.