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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Provides insight into what life was like in the segregated Southern United States in the early 1960s. Readers will learn many ways in which segregation, and social and civic powerlessness, directly affected Black Americans. Some brief facts about Emmett Till's horrible death given in a footnote.
You can't worry about all of life's complications. You just have to have faith, love each other, and believe you can make it work. We're not perfect and we can't fix everything or win every battle. But we can fix some things and win some battles, and that's worth doing. Negative examples show how racism, bigotry, segregation, and overall powerlessness in society contributes to many Black Americans feeling unwelcome and unsafe, even in the places they were born and have lived their whole lives.
Positive Role Models
Evalene, who's 16, is a positive role model for her academic ambitions and her interest in astronomy. She's also a helpful family member. She's surrounded by a strong network of loving, supportive friends and family. She's pretty impulsive and very impatient, and those traits cost her dearly. She also learns that doing harm to those who have harmed her doesn't make her happy or bring her peace of mind. Lots of positive African American representations. All the White characters are bigoted or downright dangerous or evil.
Violence & Scariness
Real-world violence includes a description of choking and drowning someone to death, a rape victim who fights off her attacker and says it's clear he didn't "finish what he started," a viscous gang beating that includes breaking fingers by stomping on them, a murder by gunshot, a teen who was "hurt in an unspeakable way" when she was little, a past accidental death from falling out a window, villains throwing rocks, scratching a face until it bleeds, a guard kicking a shackled prisoner, a teen with a swollen eye hit by her uncle, and lots of menace and dread. Fantasy violence includes using magical powers to choke and to throw people and objects across rooms. Ghosts take human form, throw people in a bonfire, and eat the bodies. The ghosts' horrific appearances show the ways in which they were tortured to death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Having sex and receiving oral sex are described without mentioning specific body parts but mentioning joining, rocking, moaning, moving inside, and "having their moment" at the same time. A first time mentions "he moves into me" and brief pain that goes away. Sex is implied once as "working off energy." An erection is suggested by having difficulty adjusting pants and "keep looking at it." Some kissing and making out are described. One unpleasant kiss is an attempt to gain time away from the villain. Evalene is able to prevent pregnancy magically, but the importance of condoms in preventing STDs is mentioned. Evalene tries to manipulate her menstrual flow magically but it doesn't work. A friend and a store clerk are scandalized that Evalene uses tampons.
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"S--t," "f--ker," "nigga," the "N" word, "bitch," "ass," "holy hell," and "cooches." Variations of "Jesus" and "Christ" as exclamations. Historically accurate use of "colored" people. One character mentions "CP time."
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Products & Purchases
A T-Bird car and Schwinn bike mentioned to set the scene.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Historically accurate teen smoking with a mention along the lines of "now they're saying it causes cancer." A grandmother smokes a pipe. Villains spit tobacco juice. Evalene carries a purse flask and spikes some punch at a party. Once she has a shot of whiskey in the daytime even though she knows it's wrong.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kara Lee Corthron's Daughters of Jubilation is a fantasy set in 1962 South Carolina about a 16-year-old African American girl coming into her magical powers. There's some explicit sex, including receiving oral sex, that doesn't name body parts, as well as some descriptions of kissing and making out. Real-world violence and fantasy violence is sometimes horrific; mentions blood, broken bones, and more, but isn't gory. An important character dies, and grief and recovery are important to the story. Strong language includes "s--t," "f--ker," the "N" word, and "nigga." Historically accurate use of "colored people" includes a mention of "CP time," and there's historically accurate teen smoking and a grandmother who smokes a pipe. A teen spikes some punch and has a drink of whiskey to calm down even though she knows it's wrong. Strong themes include the powerlessness that comes from living in an unjust, racist, segregated, and oppressively violent society.
Is It Any Good?
This compelling read keeps the pages turning by nicely balancing lots of different elements, like systemic racism, magic, family, first love, community, belonging, and more. Daughters of Jubilation also adds an engaging teen main character grappling with growing-up issues anyone can relate to, and a host of other well-developed and colorful characters. Readers will also get a real sense of how the segregated society affected individuals, families, and communities, which may encourage understanding and inspire empathy. The novel has a well-structured plot and inventive magical elements that evoke Evalene's connection to her ancestors. Strong sex, violence, and language make it best for mature teens and up.
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