author: Sarah Jamila Stevenson
date: Flux, 2011
main character: Asha Jamison
Asha, Carey, Maria and Miranda have been friends forever. One night while studying and almost on a fluke, Asha and Carey decide to print t-shirts to raise money so that they can take a trip after they graduate high school. Their plans keep evolving in ways that are beyond the girls and they end up in a disciplinarian hearing at their school. The backend of the story is brought to the front and told parallel to actions as they happen, bringing a sense of suspense to what seems like a rather ordinary activity. What makes it more? Latte makes it more. While ‘latte’ seems like a cute way to get sales, it also represents the complexion of mixed raced students and brings to attention issues mixed raced students are facing. Carey herself has one set of grandparents who speak Spanish and other speaking Hindu. Her family celebrates Christmas and Diwali on one day between the two holidays.
The story doesn’t go deep into racial incidents. In fact, many situations in the book feel restrained, as if they’re missing that next step that reveal intent, passion or consequence. In this sense, Latte Rebellion reads very much like a first effort. The story hinges much on the fact that the girls are not know as the originators of the Latte Rebellion, however they would have been know from their failed attempt to have the club made official at their school.
In Asha, Stevenson gave us a fairly immature high school senior who we watch struggle to grow. Asha seeks to find a purpose, to maintain adult relationships and to find her identity as a mixed race person. She sets a steep learning curve for herself by starting this club which quickly does more than she imagined. When it comes down to it, she’s just a kid trying to figure herself out.