Review of We Didn't Ask for This

We Didn’t Ask for This
by Adi Alsaid
High School    Inkyard    352 pp.    g
4/20    978-1-335-14676-2    $18.99

At a worldly and diverse K–12 private school in an unnamed country outside the U.S., the high schoolers look forward to the school’s legendary lock-in, planning all year for sanctioned events such as movie screenings and athletic and cooking competitions, as well as unsanctioned ones such as a party with alcohol. It’s usually a night of new friendships, romance, casual hookups, and memorable adventures. This year, student Marisa Cuevas and her friends decide to stage an eco-protest at the lock-in. They chain themselves to the exits and present a list of environmental justice demands to the school board, refusing to let anyone leave until these demands are met, which results in days of confinement. As the characters react to the protest and the sudden change of plans, the chapter titles note specific times, aiding readers in tracking the progress of the protest and creating a sense of immediacy. It takes some effort to understand the logistics of the protest as days pass, but the characters’ interactions, and the question of how the stalemate will end, should draw readers in.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Christina Dobbs
Christina Dobbs
Christina Dobbs is an assistant professor of English Education at Boston University. She is a former high school teacher, literacy coach, and reading specialist, and she studied adolescent literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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