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RENEE 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. Follow her on Instagram
September 2019 Book of the Month | Amara knows exactly what she wants for her 12th birthday: to visit her father’s family in New York. She understands it will be very different to Beavertown, Oregon, the small town she’s grown up in, but can’t wait to explore the big city and get to know her family properly. The trip is eye-opening in lots of ways as she learns more about her father and his childhood, about her family, and even her own history. Renée Watson shows us that families are complicated, that it’s never too late to change or make amends, and that we can all carry on learning even as we grow up. Quiet, though full of drama, and skilfully told, this is a touching and thought-provoking story with well-drawn, engaging characters; a book that will make a real impact on its reader.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | In a Nutshell: Be Your Best “Be bold. Be brave. Be beautiful. Be brilliant. Be (your) best”. So resolves main character Jade in this timely, inspirational novel that will surely motivate many young women to do the same. Talented collage artist Jade is a bright teen with her eyes wide open to the world. She wants to learn Spanish “to give myself a way out. A way in. Because language can take you places”, and she has a scholarship to attend a mostly-white private school. While this is a great achievement and will open doors for her, Jade is acutely aware of how different she is from her classmates, not only because she’s black but also “because their mothers are the kind of people who hire housekeepers, and my mother is the kind of person who works as one”. Initially reluctant to accept a place on a programme for “at-risk” girls (she’s fed up of being labeled as someone who needs help), Jade takes it because “girls like me, with coal skin and hula-hoop hips, whose mommas barely make enough money to keep food in the house, have to take opportunities every chance we get”. Maxine, her mentor, takes her out to eat and buys her art books, but clued-up Jade is pretty sure that flaky Maxine could do with learning some life lessons herself, plus she creates some rifts between Jade and her mom. In fact, everywhere she turns, Jade encounters conflict, leading her to wonder “if a black girl’s life is only about being stitched together and coming undone…I wonder if there’s ever a way for a girl like me to feel whole”. But one thing’s for sure, Jade’s not going to let anything distract her from being a success and making a difference. At once moving and motivational, this incisive novel tackles issues of race, class and identity with power and depth, and Jade is one of those extraordinary characters you’d love to meet in real life - we could all learn a lot from Jade. ~ Joanne Owen
From New York Times bestselling and multi award-winning author Renee Watson comes a heartwarming and inspiring middle grade novel about finding deep roots and exploring the past, the present, and the places that make us who we are. 'Some of the places I am still getting to know, some of these places I have known all my life. All of these places made me, are making me.' All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father's family in New York City - Harlem. She can't wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family - and herself - in a new way. But New York City is not exactly what Amara thought it would be. It's noisy, crowded, confusing, and her cousins can be mean. Plus her father is too busy working to spend time with her and too angry to fix his relationship with Grandpa Earl. Amara can't help wondering, even if she does discover more about where she came from, will it help her know where she belongs?
A stirring and unputdownable read about what it means to be a woman today. Perfect for fans of Moxie and The Hate U Give. Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends on a mission. Sick of the way that young women are treated even at their 'progressive' New York City high school, they decide to start a Women's Rights Club. One problem - no one shows up. That hardly stops them. They start posting everything from videos of Chelsea performing her poetry to Jasmine's response to being reduced to a racist and sexist stereotype in the school's theatre department. And soon, they've gone viral, creating a platform they never could've predicted. With such positive support, the Women's Rights Club is also targeted by trolls. But Jasmine and Chelsea won't let their voices - or those of the other young women in their city - be silenced. They'll risk everything to be heard and effect change ... but at what cost?
From New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award-winning author Renee Watson comes a captivating and poignant coming-of-age urban novel about sisters, friends, and what it means to embrace change. Maya Younger and her identical twin sister, Nikki, have always agreed on the important things. Friends. Boys. School. They even plan to attend the same historically African American college. But nothing can always remain the same. As their Portland neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, Maya feels her connection to Nikki and their community slipping away. Nikki spends more time at trendy coffee shops than backyard barbecues, and their new high school principal is more committed to erasing the neighborhood's ghetto reputation than honoring its history. Home doesn't feel like home anymore. As Maya struggles to hold on to her black heritage, she begins to wonder with whom--or where--she belongs. Does growing up have to mean growing apart?
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