'The Book Thief' By Markus Zusak Is A Resistance Must-Read, According To YA Author Brendan Reichs
In the months since Donald Trump has become president, more and more people have become inspired to join the Resistance — whether that means volunteering, campaigning, donating, making calls, educating themselves and others on the issues, or otherwise. Bustle's 31 Days of Reading Resistance takes a look at the role of literature and writing in the Resistance, both as a source of inspiration and as a tool for action.
Fantasy and dystopian literature has long been a source of resistance inspiration; just look to the success of The Handmaid's Tale, Harry Potter, or The Hunger Games for proof. But what often goes overlooked is the role young adult literature has played in shaping those genres — and the role those genres have played in shaping young minds. YA fantasy is a power tool for inspiring resistance in young people. One example is the Harry Potter Alliance, an activist organization inspired by the work of J.K. Rowling. They're a real-life Dumbledore's Army that uses Harry Potter fandom as the foundation and catalyst for broader social change.
Brendan Reichs, the author of Nemesis and the forthcoming Genesis, has found motivation to resist in fantasy and dystopian YA, and he has some suggestions that adults and teens alike will find inspiration in.
Here are Brendan Reichs' recommendations for 31 Days of Reading Resistance:
Reichs says: "McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic masterpiece boils resistance down to its purest essence: a father must protect the life of his young son in a desolate world gone mad. Poignant and painful, the story delves into the very root of why we struggle to go on in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The motivation is simple, yet undeniable: the father loves his son more than anything else in the world, and would do anything to keep him safe. That fuels him to keep going, to keep fighting, to keep seeking a brighter future even when it seems impossible that one might still exist."
Reichs says: "When a madman takes the throne, bankrupts the kingdom, oppresses and murders both commoners and noblemen alike, and makes a terrible bargain with cold, malevolent beings from the far north—ones bent of the destruction of humanity—young Simon of the Hayholt is catapulted from the safe castle life he knows and is forced to choose a side. Will he sit back and ignore the growing rot at the center of the kingdom, or will he stand up to injustice, joining a seemingly doomed battle against forces beyond his control. The path Simon chooses, and his coming-of-age story, is the epitome of doing right in the face of tyranny, whatever the cost. He resists, and helps bring down an empire older than time."
Reichs says: "Set in Germany during the dark days of World War II, young Liesel Meminger defies the horrors of the Nazi regime and even the attentions of Death itself, immersing herself in learning and the care of another, a Jewish man named Max, whose very presence in her home could result in her imprisonment and execution. Through the transformative powers of reading and writing, Liesel resists by stealing books banned by the Nazi party and by secretly creating stories of her own. Though she is very small, and the evil outside her home very big, Liesel’s refusal to abandon hope is the very definition of resistance."
Reichs says: "In a future “utopia” secretly rotten to its core, decisions are made for you, including who you are supposed to marry. When seventeen-year-old Cassia is matched with her best friend, Xander, a glitch briefly shows her the picture of another boy named Ky. As Cassia investigates the anomaly—and an awakening understanding of the power of choice—she resists having decisions made for her by a society that robs its people of the most basic personal freedoms. Cassia’s journey shows that not every evil is readily apparent, or carries a gun, and that there can be an insidious allure to passive acquiescence. But through Cassia’s resistance, Condie reminds her readers that a life without self-determination is not truly living, no matter how comfortable."
Follow along all month long for more Reading Resistance book recommendations.