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 am learning to speak.
To give myself a way out. A way in.
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.
And maybe I've already started. For the past two years I've attended St. Francis High School on the other side of town, away from everything and everyone I love. Tomorrow is the first day of junior year, and you'd think it was my first day as a freshman, the way my stomach is turning. I don't think I'll ever get used to being at St. Francis while the rest of my friends are at Northside. I begged Mom to let me go to my neighborhood high school, but she just kept telling me, "Jade, honey, this is a good opportunity." One I couldn't pass up. It's the best private school in ...
Part of what makes this story so wonderful is that Watson never condemns any one person or any one side of any issue. It’s both the mentor and the mentee who offer wisdom. The old life and new lifestyle both offer healthy contributions to Jade’s life. There is good to be found in the wealthy and the poor. Real life reflects this kind of healthy weaving of disparate parts and Watson reminds us that when everything works together, we often have a healthier whole.
(Reviewed by Bradley Sides).
Full Review (693 words).
Renee Watson's excellent Young Adult novel Piecing Me Together follows the life of a high school junior. Jade, who is African American, receives a scholarship to a new, predominantly white school, and finds herself feeling alone. Her guidance counselor approaches her with information about participating in a mentorship program called Women to Women, which targets girls who are seen as being at risk. Jade is initially reluctant to participate; however, after she weighs the opportunities, she realizes that she should take advantage of the program. So, she does. She meets her mentor, Maxine, who is also African American. Maxine is a college graduate, and she's from a prosperous family. With Maxine by her side, Jade sees a side of ...
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