written by David Levithan
I adore political young adult novels. I just love them. Despite many falling in the 'young adult' category not yet being able to vote, we are people and we are passionate about the world we live in. It is so great to hear voices of fictional teens who feel the same. Wide Awake is the stuff of a beautiful liberal idealistic heaven, and has to be one of the best books I've had the pleasure of reading. And he does it so great, too, with his typical mindblowing writing combining with perfection of a plot. He could have easily used the political victory as the ending, but instead took the hard and ultimately more rewarding road of tackling the end at the beginning. While some of the made up historical events seem a little hokey, once they're explained, it's totally believable, albeit idealistic. And while this may be deemed a 'political YA', more than anything this novel is about finding who you are and reconciling your identity with society's dissenting opinions on who you "should" be, whether dictated through social, cultural, or religious "rules". The "Jesus Revolution" mentioned in this book is a beautiful concept and I could only dream of such a thing happening in my lifetime, the idea of religion going back to its roots of love and kindness for all. Stein is kind of a simple character, and elements of the story seem simple, but there are so many amazing qualities found in this book. Religion could easily have been written off as a force of evil and hate. Instead, Levithan takes the effort to imagine people complexly and recognize that religion itself is not inherently good or bad, but a force for potential action in either direction, often both directions, in complicated, tangled up ways. This book is political, but it is about so much more than that. The personal doesn't automatically have to be political, but man, can the political be personal.