Here is what WJW read together in 2023!
WJW staff gathered for a quarterly lunch hour to share thoughts about how these books might relate back to our work or the communities we serve through our projects.
From Harper Collins: "Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no income if she didn’t donate plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter, Brianna, in Chicago, often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends. After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before—households surviving on virtually no cash income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, was one and a half million households, including about three million children. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Through this book’s eye-opening analysis and many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge. $2.00 a Day delivers provocative ideas to our national debate on income inequality."
From HarperCollins: "For fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Brit Bennett, a striking coming-of-age debut about friendship, community, and resilience, set in the housing projects of Chicago during one life-changing summer.
"Even when we lose it all, we find the strength to rebuild.
"Felicia “Fe Fe” Stevens is living with her vigilantly loving mother and older teenaged brother, whom she adores, in building 4950 of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes. It’s the summer of 1999, and her high-rise is next in line to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority. She, with the devout Precious Brown and Stacia Buchanan, daughter of a Gangster Disciple Queen-Pin, form a tentative trio and, for a brief moment, carve out for themselves a simple life of Double Dutch and innocence. But when Fe Fe welcomes a mysterious new friend, Tonya, into their fold, the dynamics shift, upending the lives of all four girls.
"As their beloved neighborhood falls down around them, so too do their friendships and the structures of the four girls’ families. Fe Fe must make the painful decision of whom she can trust and whom she must let go. Decades later, as she remembers that fateful summer—just before her home was demolished, her life uprooted, and community forever changed—Fe Fe tries to make sense of the grief and fraught bonds that still haunt her and attempts to reclaim the love that never left.
"Profound, reverent, and uplifting, Last Summer on State Street explores the risk of connection against the backdrop of racist institutions, the restorative power of knowing and claiming one’s own past, and those defining relationships which form the heartbeat of our lives. Interweaving moments of reckoning and sustaining grace, debut author Toya Wolfe has crafted an era-defining story of finding a home—both in one’s history and in one’s self."
From Penguin Random House: "Spacious and affordable homes used to be the hallmark of American prosperity. Today, however, punishing rents and the increasingly prohibitive cost of ownership have turned housing into the foremost symbol of inequality and an economy gone wrong. Nowhere is this more visible than in the San Francisco Bay Area, where fleets of private buses ferry software engineers past the tarp-and-plywood shanties of the homeless. The adage that California is a glimpse of the nation’s future has become a cautionary tale.
"With propulsive storytelling and ground-level reporting, New York Times journalist Conor Dougherty chronicles America’s housing crisis from its West Coast epicenter, peeling back the decades of history and economic forces that brought us here and taking readers inside the activist movements that have risen in tandem with housing costs."
From Penguin Random House: "People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, an estimated 15 percent of the global population. But many of us—disabled and nondisabled alike—don’t know how to act, what to say, or how to be an ally to the disability community. Demystifying Disability is a friendly handbook on the important disability issues you need to know about, including:
"How to appropriately think, talk, and ask about disability;
"Recognizing and avoiding ableism (discrimination toward disabled people);
"Practicing good disability etiquette;
"Ensuring accessibility becomes your standard practice, from everyday communication to planning special events;
"Appreciating disability history and identity;
"Identifying and speaking up about disability stereotypes in media.
"Authored by celebrated disability rights advocate, speaker, and writer Emily Ladau, this practical, intersectional guide offers all readers a welcoming place to understand disability as part of the human experience."
From Penguin Random House: "In Chinese culture, the tiger is deeply revered for its confidence, passion, ambition, and ferocity. That same fighting spirit resides in Alice Wong.
"Drawing on a collection of original essays, previously published work, conversations, graphics, photos, commissioned art by disabled and Asian American artists, and more, Alice uses her unique talent to share an impressionistic scrapbook of her life as an Asian American disabled activist, community organizer, media maker, and dreamer. From her love of food and pop culture to her unwavering commitment to dismantling systemic ableism, Alice shares her thoughts on creativity, access, power, care, the pandemic, mortality, and the future. As a self-described disabled oracle, Alice traces her origins, tells her story, and creates a space for disabled people to be in conversation with one another and the world. Filled with incisive wit, joy, and rage, Wong’s Year of the Tiger will galvanize readers with big cat energy."