I was planning to do another triple review in the interests of catching up, but have fallen to the reality of headaches and patrons with long reference questions (that last a much more pleasant reason!). So more contemporary teen girls on the way soon, but a brief review of an excellent book for now.
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson. Bloomsbury, 2017.Jade is a junior on scholarship to St. Francis, which she gets to via a long bus ride through Portland every day. She’s one of the only Black students there, doing everything she can to someday get out of her neighborhood. She’s worked especially hard at Spanish in hopes of being nominated for a service trip abroad. Instead, she’s nominated for the local Woman to Woman program and assigned a mentor who keeps skipping their meetings. Also this year, as she’s riding to school, she meets Sam, a girl from the poor white neighborhood on the way, and makes one of her first real friends at school.
Jade’s hobby is collage (I’d love to see some of the described collages), and this is also a metaphor for her life, as she figures out who she is and who people think she is or should be in all the areas of her life – from the people from the mentoring program who think she needs to be “fixed” in some way, to the difficulties fitting in with friends she no longer goes to school with, and even the differences in food from one circle to the next. No one seems to want a girl from the ‘hood who is smart and cares about education but still loves Kool-aid and fast food. Everyone has prejudices, and it’s inspiring to watch Jade learn how to navigate the differences and stand up for herself and other Black girls. It made me all teary-eyed, and I need to go back and read Watson’s other books now.
This book has won all the awards – a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King author award, and the Cybils Young Adult Fiction award – but I heard about it first from Brandy at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.