Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on February 14, 2017
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A timely and powerful story about a teen girl striving for success in a world that too often feels like it wants to break her.
Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she's ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And she has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for "at-risk" girls. Except really, it's for black girls. From "bad" neighborhoods. And just because Maxine, her college-graduate mentor, is black doesn't mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Piecing Me Together, an #ownvoices book by Renée Watson, tells an important story about black girlhood and the need for imagining people complexly.
First things first. Cover. Love. This cover is so gorgeous.
One of the things I love most about Piecing Me Together is that there’s no romantic element. It’s a story about black girls and women and the varied experiences of being a black girl and woman. Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about in her TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story, we risk fundamental misunderstandings with each other when we reduce other people to the stereotypes of a single story. Renée Watson, through Jade, her mother, Maxine, and all the other women in Piecing Me Together, carries on this theme. It’s hard for Jade and Maxine to understand each other at first, for Jade’s mother to understand Maxine, for Maxine’s mother to understand both Maxine and Jade, for Jade’s friends to understand her, etc. But what stands out is this idea that communication and active listening opens the door to understanding each other. Once Jade opens up to the people in her life, great things start to happen. Female communities FTW.
Jade is a fantastic character that I think a lot of teens can relate to. She’s in this strange space, stuck between two worlds that don’t really understand her. I think reading Piecing Me Together alongside a discussion about Double Consciousness could be super beneficial way of talking about race in the classroom and at home.
I know I’m going all analytical in this review, but it’s because Piecing Me Together is so deep and fantastic that I can’t help but dig deep in my thoughts on it. So, perhaps this isn’t a traditional review. But let me just say this: this book is fantastic, has authentic, heartfelt characters, and is a read that won’t disappoint you. Buy it. Borrow it from the library. Do what you’ve got to do to read it because it’s well worth it.
An #ownvoices novel with unabashed love for black girls and women. A must read.
© 2017, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.