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Review of Piecing Me Together

Piecing Me Together
by Renée Watson
Middle School, High School    Bloomsbury    264 pp.
2/17    978-1-68119-105-8    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-68119-106-5    $12.99

At her mother’s prodding, Jade has spent her high school career preparing herself for success. That has included taking every opportunity offered to her: a scholarship to the prestigious (and mostly white; Jade is African American) St. Francis High School. SAT prep classes. Essay-writing classes. While Jade has accepted every offer, she wonders who benefits more — she herself, or the people who get to boast that they’ve helped an “at-risk” girl from a “bad” neighborhood. While she does have financial and social issues to contend with at home, Jade is also fluent in Spanish and a talented artist; she doesn’t particularly feel at-risk. When her guidance counselor suggests a “Woman to Woman” mentoring group, Jade is hopeful that her mentor will take the time to get to know her. But Maxine proves to be as clueless as the rest of them — when she even bothers to pay attention or show up. With no one willing to ask the questions to discover who she truly is, Jade realizes she will have to take the initiative and introduce herself to the world — and, in turn, create her own opportunities. Just as Jade is engrossed in her history-class study of York, the slave who accompanied Lewis and Clark, Watson (This Side of Home) takes Jade on her own journey of self-discovery, one that readers will avidly follow. With each chapter preceded by a Spanish word or phrase, this involving, thought-provoking novel is a multifaceted and clear-eyed exploration into the intersections of race, class, and gender.

From the July/August 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Eboni Njoku

Eboni Njoku is a children’s librarian at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library Branch of the DC Public Library.

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