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Radical
Cover of Radical
Radical
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Determined to survive the crisis she's sure is imminent, Bex is at a loss when her world collapses in the one way she hasn't planned for.

Preppers. Survivalists. Bex prefers to think of herself as a realist who plans to survive, but regardless of labels, they're all sure of the same thing: a crisis is coming. And when it does, Bex will be ready. She's planned exactly what to pack, she knows how to handle a gun, and she'll drag her family to safety by force if necessary. When her older brother discovers Clearview, a group that takes survival just as seriously as she does, Bex is intrigued. While outsiders might think they're a delusional doomsday group, she knows there's nothing crazy about being prepared. But Bex isn't prepared for Lucy, who is soft and beautiful and hates guns. As her brother's involvement with some of the members of Clearview grows increasingly alarming and all the pieces of Bex's life become more difficult to juggle, Bex has to figure out where her loyalties really lie. In a gripping novel, E. M. Kokie questions our assumptions about family, trust, and what it really takes to survive.

Determined to survive the crisis she's sure is imminent, Bex is at a loss when her world collapses in the one way she hasn't planned for.

Preppers. Survivalists. Bex prefers to think of herself as a realist who plans to survive, but regardless of labels, they're all sure of the same thing: a crisis is coming. And when it does, Bex will be ready. She's planned exactly what to pack, she knows how to handle a gun, and she'll drag her family to safety by force if necessary. When her older brother discovers Clearview, a group that takes survival just as seriously as she does, Bex is intrigued. While outsiders might think they're a delusional doomsday group, she knows there's nothing crazy about being prepared. But Bex isn't prepared for Lucy, who is soft and beautiful and hates guns. As her brother's involvement with some of the members of Clearview grows increasingly alarming and all the pieces of Bex's life become more difficult to juggle, Bex has to figure out where her loyalties really lie. In a gripping novel, E. M. Kokie questions our assumptions about family, trust, and what it really takes to survive.

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  • OverDrive Read
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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    640
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    2 - 3

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About the Author-
  • E. M. Kokie is the author of Personal Effects, an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adults selection. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 27, 2016
    In this provocative novel, Kokie (Personal Effects) takes on the controversial subject of gun ownership in America. Sixteen-year-old Bex Mullin is obsessed with preparing for what she thinks is an inevitable catastrophe, spending as much time as possible honing her survival skills and marksmanship, despite her family’s open disapproval of her unfeminine appearance and hobbies. When Bex joins Clearview, a group of people with similar interests, she finds a measure of acceptance, but after she falls for Lucy, who wants nothing to do with guns or training, Bex struggles to reconcile the different aspects of her life. It all comes to a head when the government takes an interest in Bex and her family, and she has to decide what’s more important: protecting herself or relatives who have never supported her. Kokie writes with nuanced sympathy, condemning the government’s heavy-handed tactics and Bex’s tunnel vision, contrasting her need for self-sufficiency with her desire to belong, and examining gender identity and sexual orientation. It’s a complex recipe of volatile ingredients that Kokie uses to deliver an unsettling story that’s both timely and necessary. Ages 14–up.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2016

    Gr 9 Up-Bex and her family are experiencing hard times. Her family moved in with her uncle Skip, and Bex helps him out at his garage and gas station. Her mother works multiple jobs to support the family. Bex, her father, and her brother, Mark, are doomsday preppers, though Bex pushes the most for the family to be prepared for imminent danger. When Mark is invited to a sportsman's club, Clearview, Bex is skeptical at first but eventually trains there regularly. She also meets Lucy at the gas station and begins a relationship with her that she keeps from her parents, because they don't approve of most of what Bex does-from homeschooling to her nonfeminine haircut to her training and shooting on her own. When Mark falls in with the wrong crowd at Clearview, he starts acting suspiciously and drops out. Soon, Mark is in deep trouble, resulting in the whole family being arrested and Bex being pressured to take the blame. Kokie takes on a lot of topics, including doomsday preppers and a lesbian navigating a conservative family and value system, but the book splinters when she is arrested. The plot becomes disjointed, and things get quickly and messily resolved. The book's length and the detailed descriptions of cleaning and shooting guns may lose the interest of some readers. VERDICT A worthy additional title.-Adrienne L. Strock, Nashville Public Library

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2016
    Bex struggles to find acceptance for her nontraditional gender expression and her sexual orientation within her family and within the doomsday survivalist community she longs to join.Since she's been at odds with her family over her survivalist interests in addition to her masculine appearance, her father's and brother's decisions to join a new survivalist organization surprise Bex. Joining them on visits to the organization's developing compound, Bex finds that her desire for fellowship overrides her concerns about some members' misogyny, homophobia, and racism (which suggests that the majority of the novel's cast is white). Even as her brother's behavior becomes increasingly erratic and aggressive, Bex is unwilling to consider the community's potential dark side. She's also distracted when Lucy arrives for the summer and presents Bex with her first opportunity for a lesbian relationship (though it remains a secret from other characters). Readers of all sexual orientations will relate to Bex's intoxicated blend of nerves and anticipation regarding Lucy. Many will also understand her instinctive motivation to maintain relationship harmony by minimizing her survivalist activities--though ultimately this becomes impossible. And then, quite suddenly, Bex can't avoid facing the dark truths of her family and chosen community. Kokie takes her time developing characters and setting the plot in motion, creating a believable lesbian protagonist who wants to belong to a world that doesn't particularly want her. A hard, cleareyed look at coming of age in a prejudiced world. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    September 1, 2016
    Grades 9-12 Bex, 16, is a talented marksman, dedicated survivalist, and closeted lesbian. She's convinced that her special skills will save her family in the chaos that will follow the government's upheaval, and is delighted when her family is invited to join Clearview, a survivalist group in rural Michigan. Then she meets Lucy, a confident and fascinating lesbian visiting relatives, and has her first romantic relationship. Lucy, though, is appalled at Bex's beliefs and affiliations with a group that speaks against homosexuals. Bex's brother Mark is soon arrested and accused of treason, and Bex, too, lands in prison. Kokie's legal background lends verisimilitude and fascinating insight into prison life and legal strategy, while swift pacing pulls the reader deep into multiple plot twists. However, it's Bex's passionate, uninformed, awkward naivete that drives the novel. Kokie's sympathetic and believably flawed heroine's first-person, present-tense narrative offers an intriguing portrait of a philosophy not often explored in teen fiction. Bex's complex relationship with Lucy is particularly well depicted, but even secondary characters are impressively handled.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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    Candlewick Press
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