Monday, June 4, 2018

*Review* Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner

Genre: YA/LGBT
Published: June 5, 2018
Pages: 272

In Adrienne Kisner's Dear Rachel Maddow, a high school girl deals with school politics and life after her brother’s death by drafting emails to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in this funny and heartfelt YA debut.

Brynn Haper's life has one steadying force--Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project--and actually getting a response--Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick's death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she's stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn's archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

I'm not going to lie, I requested this book purely because of the title. Like Brynn, I too am a Rachel Maddow fan. That's pretty much where our similarities end though. In spite of that, by the end of the story, I really felt like I understood Brynn and could relate to her at least a little bit.

The format for this book was different. It's told entirely through emails, most of which are from Brynn. We get to know Brynn's voice really well, and we get a little bit of feedback from her teacher Mr. Grimm as well, with a few emails from her peer tutor, Lacey, and her girlfriend, Michaela, thrown in for good measure. Then we get the emails from Adam's dad (although based on the email address those come from, I'm not so sure it really is Adam's dad sending them) to the school principal discussing some of the problems that have arisen at school.

I couldn't help but to cheer Brynn on as she battled with Adam to win the top spot on student council. Her observations about how slimy privileged men always seem to win and get what they want really resonated with me, and I was anxious to see at least one of them taken down by a "little guy." And Brynn's willingness to own up to the attempted smears against her that were true reserved her a place in my heart. If only everyone had that kind of integrity.

Overall I give Dear Rachel Maddow 4.352 stars. - Katie 

Adrienne Kisner lives in a dorm that is better and likely bigger than yours. She prefers the term "dormitory" to "residence hall." Her opinions are built out of cinder block. She went to school for a long time and has several degrees that have afforded her the professional opportunity to routinely opine to college students about the merits of subverting grammar. Her coolest degree is an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. In her spare time, Adrienne enjoys killing plants and zombies. Her current home is in Boston, but she will always be a Pennsylvanian at heart. Visit her at

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