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Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

February 14, 2019

When I learned the Spanish word for succeed, I thought it was kind of ironic that the word exit is embedded in it. Like the universe was telling me that in order for me to make something of this life, I’d have to leave home, my neighborhood, my friends.

Jade is a junior in high school—but not just her local high school on the south side of Portland, Oregon. Instead, she goes to St. Francis, a private high school that she travels to by bus. Every day she leaves the projects, where she lives with her mom, who works as a housekeeper to keep them fed, and E.J, Jade’s uncle, who is a local D-Jay.

She goes to St. Francis where there are only a few black girls, and she feels like an outsider with her lack of money. This is where she figures out about a mentorship program, Woman to Woman, which she only joins so she will get a scholarship. During her first meeting she is the only mentee without a mentor, so Jade leaves embarrassed and angry at Maxine. Her mentor Maxine has her own problems and tries to make up for missing the meeting. Now Jade must struggle to forgive Maxine fully and express her real feelings about how she thinks the  mentorship program could do better, keep her grades up to please her mom, and learn Spanish in the hopes of getting picked to go with her school to a foreign country with their study abroad program: an opportunity she is convinced she will get.

Renée Watson used first person in Jade’s perspective through the whole story, which I thought helped me as a reader to understand the struggles that Jade goes through in every day life and her thoughts and feelings about the events that change her in this work of fiction. I thought that Watson did a good job making the character development very clear with Jade. Jade started the story very insecure with herself, her race, her size, and how poor she is—especially compared to her classmates at St. Francis. Over time she is slowly able to get over these things and be a stronger protagonist in multiple ways.

Watson crafted this title so that it included many obstacles at the same time. Some of the settings for these were home, school, Woman to Woman, and with her friends. This helped me as a reader to get a full experience of who Jade is as a person in all different scenarios.

I think readers that enjoyed The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas would enjoy Piecing Me Together because they have a similar plot: both girls are struggling to have their voices heard and fit into their mostly white private schools while dealing with home and school problems. I found the pace of this title to be slow in some spots where Watson described a whole day instead of skipping over parts that were irrelevant to the plot, but other than that this book was well written with an intriguing protagonist that readers would ride her emotions beside. This title won the Newberry Honor and the Coretta Scott King Award. Anybody who wants to read a story about one of the many struggles young African American people still face today and some of their history would enjoy this work of realistic fiction. To me this book has a rating way over ten.

Ruth

Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 261 pages


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