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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
Acclaimed author Renee Watson offers a powerful story about a 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 Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn't really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn't mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She's tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.
A 2017 New York Public Library Best Teen Book of the Year A School Library Journal Best Book of 2017, Young Adult
Watson's elegantly crafted novel speaks to the myriad of people who find themselves searching for themselves in the world. Timely and timeless, Piecing Me Together is a book about the ways young people deal with the hardships and heartbreak of everyday living while remaining whole and true to themselves. There is a little bit of Jade in all of us. As she and the rest of Watson's characters jumped off the page and into my heart, I found myself again and again, remembering this. -- Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming
Watson, with rhythm and style, somehow gets at the toxicity of sympathy, the unquenchable thirst of fear, and the life-changing power of voice and opportunity, all wrapped up in Jade--the coolest young lady in the world. Or at least, in Portland, Oregon. Simply, Piecing Me Together is a book you'll want to hug! -- Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling and award-winning coauthor of All American Boys
An important and deeply moving novel. Highly recommended. -- John Green, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Fault in Our Stars
A nuanced story about girls navigating the landmines of others good intentions, Piecing Me Together will make readers wrestle with every assumption they have about race, economic class, and so-called at-risk kids. An honest look at how girls stitch together their talents to find their voice and power. Renee Watson is a top-rate storyteller about what impacts young women today. -- Meg Medina, award-winning author of Burn Baby Burn
Jade's narrative voice offers compelling reflections on the complexities of race and gender, class and privilege, and fear and courage, while conveying the conflicted emotions of an ambitious, loyal girl. Teeming with compassion and insight, Watson's story trumpets the power of artistic expression to re-envision and change the world. -- starred review Publishers Weekly
Through Jade's insightful and fresh narration, Watson presents a powerful story that challenges stereotypes about girls with 'coal skin and hula-hoop hips who must contend with the realities of racial profiling and police brutality . . . . A timely, nuanced, and unforgettable story about the power of art, community, and friendship. -- starred review Kirkus Reviews
This unique and thought-provoking title offers a nuanced meditation on race, privilege, and intersectionality. -- starred review School Library Journal
A thoughtful testament to the value of growth and of work, of speaking up and of listening, that will resonate with many readers engaged in 'discovering what we are really capable of. starred review BCCB
A balancing act between class, race, and social dynamics, with Watson constantly undercutting stereotypes and showing no fear in portraying virtues along with vices. The book's defiance of a single-issue lens will surely inspire discussion and consideration. Booklist
Questions of race, self-acceptance, and self-worth are the focus of this book and will give young women a chance to realize that they are worthwhile just being themselves. . . . all students . . . would benefit from reading this book. School Library Connection
Watson's story explores a number of important ideas: the challenges and rewards of interracial friendships, the realities of racial stereotyping, and the expression of ideas and emotions through art . . . Jade's is an important voice. VOYA
Watson takes Jade on her own journey of self-discovery, one that readers will avidly follow. With each chapter preceded by a Spanish word or phrase, this involving, thought-provoking novel is a multifaceted and clear-eyed exploration into the intersections of race, class, and gender. The Horn Book Magazine
|Publication date:||8th February 2018|
|Publisher:||Bloomsbury Childrens Books an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
|Suitable for:||13+ readers, YA readers|
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 InstagramMore About Renee Watson