Reviewed by Claire, a Teen Advisory Board Member
“Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage” published by Alfred A. Knopf is a collection of short stories written by people who’ve found success in the face of hardship. Many are likely to be familiar names in your mind, and this book is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the backgrounds of your role models. However, there are undoubtedly new names that you will discover upon opening this book, enhancing the book’s appeal.
This being a curated collection, there is immense diversity in the subjects, styles, and formats of each story. Some are put in the form of a graphic novel, while others are letters dedicated to people they love, or even conversations with other people who’ve struggled yet persisted. Some are focused on grief, others around homophobia, ableism, homelessness, racism, and more. In each story, however, there is a powerful voice, and a struggle faced with perseverance.
One shortcoming of this book is that, due to the sheer number of voices included, each story is short, and therefore concise. However, this book can be seen as a jumping-off point to more research on these fascinating people.
One particular voice which spoke to me, and led me to 30-minutes of spiraling on Google: Fanny Starr. She was a survivor of the Holocaust, and stood as a stark contrast to other authors, in that the story lacked the “here’s where my thinking changed, and how I continued forward over my obstacles” point. In her words, “To this day, I do not know how I survived.” However, her story shows a purpose that’s kept her focused her in the midst of her continued depression: preventing her story from happening to others. Instead of leaving the obstacle in her past, as other authors have, she faces it everyday, and each day, she persists.
It’s voices like these that warrant reading the book, even if you only have time to read a few of the amazing stories. In the back are discussion questions, making it perfect for book clubs. Also in the back are short biographies for each author, allowing readers to even browse through the biographies, reading background on those they find intriguing. However one reads this book, there is infinite insight to be found in it, and it will leave you with gusto and motivation to tackle the world head-on.