Jazz Owls by Margarita Engle

Jazz Owls by Margarita Engle

Jazz Owls by Margarita EngleJazz Owls by Margarita Engle
Genres: Diverse Books, Young Adult
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five-stars

From the Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle comes a searing novel in verse about the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943.

Thousands of young Navy sailors are pouring into Los Angeles on their way to the front lines of World War II. They are teenagers, scared, longing to feel alive before they have to face the horrors of battle. Hot jazz music spiced with cool salsa rhythms calls them to dance with the local Mexican American girls, who jitterbug all night before working all day in the canneries. Proud to do their part for the war effort, these Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors—until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder.

Suddenly the young white sailors are attacking these girls’ brothers and boyfriends. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence—when in reality these boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin.

In soaring images and powerful poems, this is the breathtaking story of what became known as the Zoot Suit Riots as only Margarita Engle could tell it.

This novel in verse is a fascinating historical depiction of real life events that led to the Zoot Suit Riots of Los Angeles. It tells the story of what it was like to be Mexican American in California during World War II. Margarita Engle weaves a tale rich in culture, mixed with power and gives us a lesson in history that is often forgotten. “Jazz Owls” would be an important addition to every library and history class. The amount of realism in this story is compelling and riveting. The racial discrimination these families faced during this time will help readers reflect on events of our time and it will most certainly make an impact.

five-stars

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