The Latte Rebellion


Latte Rebellion

Sit down and have a cup of coffee, we’re talking about The Latte Rebellion


“You’re half-Chinese and half-European. Caucasian. Whatever. I’m half-Indian, a quarter Mexican, and a quarter Irish. We’re mixed up. We’re not really one or the other, ethnically. We’re like human lattes.”

After Asha and her friend Carey are harassed by other students at their Northern California high school (including the president of the Asian Club) , they decide to print up some multiracial pride t-shirts.

So begins Sarah Jamila Stevenson’s new young adult novel The Latte Rebellion (Flux, 2011), which is part of NPR’s Tell Me More Summer Blend Book Club. What starts out as a harmless money-making venture by two high school friends grows into something much, much bigger: a nationwide student movement towards multiracial consciousness.

Like most YA fiction, The Latte Rebellion is a quick read, and I found a lot I could relate to: Asha lives in a fictional town just outside of the San Francisco Bay Area (home to U Nor-Cal), and aspires to attend U.C. Berkeley, where their whimsical “Latte Rebellion” is being taken as a serious identity issue.

Although I’m not in the target age group of YA literature, I found that I could really relate to the story as a blogger. Like Asha, I started this blog on sort of a whim, to express and chronicle our experiences as a mixed-race family. What I’ve found is that there are many other people out there on the Internet, who are also muddling through the similar questions and challenges, either as Hapas or as the parents of biracial children.

You can also check out Michael Martin’s interview with Sarah Jamilah Stevenson on NPR.

I’ve noticed that YA literature seems to be as popular among 40-year old women, as among teens. What do you think? Are you interested in reading The Latte Rebellion?

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  1. says

    I just put The Latte Rebellion on my list of books to read, along with another YA novel–Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.

    I’ve noticed that same phenomenon about YA novels being as popular with my peers as it is with teens! I can’t even tell you how many moms I’ve seen at my kids’ activities reading Twilight or Hunger Games! I can claim my teaching job as motivation to read YA books, but I don’t read them just for work. It is a pleasure! If I think about why that is, I’d have to say that it’s because YA books largely focus on the theme of identity. Teens are always trying to make sense of where they fit in. As mothers, women are constantly doing the same thing. I was the mom of babies and toddlers. Just when I got a handle on that role, my kids grew and I became the mother of school-aged kids. I am finally starting to get comfortable with that role and now two of my three are tweens. We are starting to deal with hormones and body changes. Each phase my kids go through makes me remember and reconsider who I am. That reflection fits perfectly with YA novel’s quest for identity. I don’t know if that explanation fits why so many other 40 year old women are reading YA fiction, but I really think that’s my secret motivation. Great review! I can’t wait to read The Latte Rebellion!

    • says

      Thanks for the insightful comment, Jen. That’s a good point that as moms, we have to constantly re-evaluate and re-invent ourselves as our kids grow. It’s good for anyone to think criticically about his/her identity– not just something to sort through in the teen/young adult years and then stay static after that.

      PS- I’m glad I’m not the only adult who read the Hunger Games!

  2. says

    Wow, this sounds really interesting and I love the latte symbolism. It’s nice to know there are books out there for young people that deals with multiculturalism – especially Asian multiculturalism since I have personal experience with it. Thanks for the information/review!

    • says

      Our kids’ generation definitely has a lot more choices than we did!

      Also, another thing I really liked about this book was that it depicted the cultural tension between the different parts of the family in a realistic, but not stereotypical way. For instance, the Mexican dad is just as pushy about academics as the Indian mom!

  3. says

    Dear Grace,

    Thank you for this review. I look forward to picking up the book!

    An earlier commenter mentioned “choices”- I think it will be interesting to see how these characters perceive their choices. I think that the local context is often more important than what might be happening at the national, meta-“hapa” level.

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