He says: Omar “T-Diddy” Smalls has got it made—a full football ride to UMiami, hero-worship status at school, and pick of any girl at West Charleston High. She says: Football, shmootball. Here’s what Claudia Clarke cares about: Harvard, the poor, the disenfranchised, the hungry, the staggering teen pregnancy rate, investigative journalism . . . the list goes on. She does not have a minute to waste on Mr. T-Diddy Smalls and his harem of bimbos.
He Said, She Said is a fun and fresh novel from Kwame Alexander that throws these two high school seniors together when they unexpectedly end up leading the biggest social protest this side of the Mississippi—with a lot of help from Facebook and Twitter. The stakes are high, the romance is hot, and when these worlds collide, watch out!
Alexander’s book has been on my TBR for quite a while, the synopsis being so unique to a YA contemporary. He Said, She Said is a novel that explores the power of protest, no matter how lost the cause may seem and no matter how young or helpless we may feel.
When the state of South Carolina decides to cut school budgets by scrapping the arts in their local high schools, Claudia Clarke is pissed- especially when her school conveniently finds the money to spend millions of dollars on a new football stadium. And, well, Omar Smalls couldn’t care less about the arts. But when Omar and his friends make a bet that he wouldn’t be able to sleep with Claudia by the end of the month, he begins to fake being interested in her concern for the unfair budget cuts and orchestrates a protest that quickly goes viral, thanks to his immense social media following.
He Said, She Said threaded many relevant social issues within the plot (in where speaking of them in this review could be considered a spoiler) that I found to be a profound and bold decision to include. Alexander thought of the idea of his first young adult novel when he hosted a writing workshop with thirty teenagers in Charleston, South Carolina- where He Said, She Said takes place. It’s exhilarating knowing that this very hard-hitting book began with thirty kids- further proving Alexander’s point that change begins with us- the youth. After all: We never know what we can achieve if we don’t stand up for what we believe.
I am LOVING the diversity in young adult literature! I thought that Omar Smalls would be the only person of color in the novel, but it turned out that most of the characters were- including Claudia, our female lead!
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Previous review: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Until next time!