Have you read Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson yet? If not, I highly recommend it. I reviewed it as an ARC last month, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
So, I reached out to Renee, and begged her to do an interview with me – and she did! Get ready to dive back into Jade’s head
Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. 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.
But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her 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.
Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face. (via Goodreads)
So, let’s give it for Jade, folks!
Q: What would be the perfect gift for you? Why?
Anything art related—sketchbooks, oil pastels, collage paper. I love to create. My mom thinks I don’t need anymore art supplies—at least not until I use everything I already have—but there can never be enough!
Q: What is your favorite food, and why?
I love ice cream—any flavor, really. Two of my favorites are Mint Chocolate Chip and Oreo Blizzards from Dairy Queen. My mom doesn’t buy dessert a lot, so I guess that’s why I like it so much. It’s something I don’t have often, so when I do get it, I savor it.
Q: If you had a free day with nothing to do, what would you do?
I’d spend the day with my best friends Lee Lee and Sam. We usually just listen to music and sit around talking. Especially on one of Portland’s rainy days.
Q: If you could spend a day with someone you admire (alive, dead or fictional) who would it be?
I’d love to meet the artist Mickalene Thomas. My mentor, Maxine, gave me an art book that has some of the collages and paintings that Mickalene Thomas made. I’d never seen anything like it—a patchwork of all these bold patterns, vibrant colors, all coming together to form portraits of women who look like the women on my block, in my family. I printed one of her collages off of her website. It’s hanging on the wall in bedroom. I’m going to save enough money so I can buy a real print one day.
Q: What’s the most important trait to you in a friend or romantic partner?
Someone who doesn’t hold grudges and knows how to forgive and move on after an argument or disagreement.
Q: What is your favorite emoji?
Face Blowing a Kiss.
Q: What are you most afraid of?
Disappointing my mom. I want to go to college and graduate but I she wants it even more than I do. I know I have to go—and not just go but graduate and do something with my life afterwards. She dropped out of college because she was pregnant with me, so I feel like I have to finish what she started.
Q: What do you like best about yourself?
Q: What do you like the least about yourself?
That I don’t always speak up when something is bothering me. I wish I could be more like Lee Lee, who always speaks her mind, but I don’t always know how to put words to how I feel. I’m getting better at it, but it’s something I have to keep working on it.
Q: What unusual hobbies or interests do you have?
I’m kind of obsessed with the history of Portland, Oregon—especially of York, the black slave that was with Lewis and Clark on their expedition to the West. Whenever I see a marker that honors Lewis and Clark’s journey or a street that’s named after someone, I want to know more. Most of my friends could care less about stuff like this, but I love researching and learning local history.
Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
When people leave the smallest amount of something like juice or milk in a carton instead of just drinking it all. I mean, really, who wants just a sip of orange juice? E.J., my uncle, does this all the time.
Q: What part of your life are you willing to spend more money on for quality?
Q: When do you consider it an appropriate time to lie?
Never. I’d rather just be quiet and not say anything.
Q: What is the happiest day of your life?
The open mic night that I organized with Lee Lee and Sam. So many people came—more than I ever imagined. It meant so much to see some of my teachers and friends from St. Francis, too. I didn’t expect that. It felt good to have us all gathered to raise our voices against injustice.
Q: Have you ever been in love?
I haven’t been in love romantically yet. The mentors of Women to Women always say that you can’t truly love anyone until you learn how to love yourself, so right now I’m focusing on loving me.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
The camera my dad gave me for my birthday.
Q: What do you find offensive?
When I tell people where I live—North Portland—and they look at me with eyes of pity, like they feel bad for me.
Q: Where would you live, if you could live anywhere in the world?
I used to have a long, long list of places—anywhere but Portland, Oregon. But lately, I’ve been thinking that I still want to travel the world (Costa Rica, Cuba, Nigeria to name a few places) but home is Portland. I don’t want to live anyplace else.
Q: What talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could sing.
Q: What do you always keep on you?
My sketch book.