A timely and powerful story about a teen girl striving for success in a world that too often seems like it’s trying 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. (via Goodreads)
I received an eARC from the publisher, Bloomsbury US Children’s, and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I had this book sitting on my computer for a while, and I sincerely regret not opening the file sooner. First of all, the cover is perfect. Seriously, scroll up and look at it. It’s perfect for this novel. Second of all, this book is the embodiment of the #blackgirlmagic tag, and I loved it.
Piecing Me Together is a novel about Jade, an unapologetically black teenager, who is trying to find her voice and place in the world. Jade is brilliant and earned a full ride to a very expensive, very white private school. She’s also an amazing collage artist, which I loved, because that’s an art form I haven’t ever seen in books.
I would like to add a trigger warning for mentions of police brutality. It doesn’t happen to any of our characters, but it’s mentioned and causes Jade a lot of distress.
I loved that Jade was able to find herself, and change her world so that it was absolutely hers. I loved that she never lost her friendship with Lee Lee, and that Lee Lee was always there to build her back up when she needed it.
I also want to talk about Sam – the only main white character in this story. Her grandmother is openly racist, and neither she nor her grandfather ever challenge it on page.
There’s a really great moment near the end of the story that I think a lot of white readers will learn from, on how to respond when you see a friend experience a microaggression. I think the reading experience of Piecing Me Together will also help white folks to understand how it feels when something like that happens. It’s something we don’t experience as much, and certainly not in the same way.
This book also featured fantastic black women of all sorts, talks about the challenges that black women and families face, and showed a way that teens can be active in social justice programs in their own ways. The ending of this book had me in tears, guys. I won’t tell you what happens, but it’s fantastic.
RENÉE WATSON is the acclaimed author of the teen novel, This Side of Home, and two picture books: Harlem’s Little Blackbird and A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, which was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as an ABA New Voices Pick. She lives in New York City.
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