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What Momma Left Me

Written by Renee Watson

Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 13+ readers Featured Books for Young Adults General Fiction Star Books Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

LoveReading View on What Momma Left Me

An authentic coming-of-age treasure in which a grieving teenager tries to heal her heart.

Renée Watson’s remarkable What Momma Left Me is a wise and nourishing story rooted in themes of resilience, healing and love.

With high school on the horizon, African American Serenity is struggling to piece her life back together following the brutal death of her beloved momma and the loss of her dad. Amidst this sensitively evoked maelstrom, Serenity finds hope in the form of her wholesome grandparents, church (where Grandpa is a pastor), brother Danny and new friend and confidante Maria, a bright beam of light who harbours her own bleak secrets. Serenity handles her grief, set-backs and challenging dilemmas with dignity, her grandparents a constant, calming presence as they impart wisdom, such as this nod to Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’ poem: “That’s why we say ‘we rise’, children. There have been lots of things that have tried to keep us down. But we’ve got resilience running through these veins.”

Empathetically charting Serenity’s grief, first romance and growing up (what Serenity does to save Maria from an unsafe situation shows strength and wisdom way beyond her years), this huge-hearted novel comes highly recommended for its honesty, depth and engaging readability, along with Watson’s Piecing Me Together and Watch Us Rise (the latter co-authored with Ellen Hagan).

Joanne Owen

What Momma Left Me Synopsis

From the New York Times bestselling author of Piecing Me Together, a 2018 Newbery Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Author Award-winner.

Serenity knows she is good at keeping secrets, and she's got a whole lifetime's worth of them. Her mother is dead, her father is gone, and she and her brother have to start over again by moving in with their grandparents. At first, things seem like they could be good: a new friend, a new church, a new school. But when her brother seems to be going down the wrong path, the old fears set in. Will he end up like their dad? Will she end up like their mum? In this exquisite coming of age story, Serenity discovers it is the power of love that keeps you sure of who you are, and who you will become.

What Momma Left Me Press Reviews

An important and deeply moving novel. Highly recommended - John Green, New York Times-bestselling and award-winning author

Warm, rich and satisfying - Kirkus Reviews

Serenity Evans is a strong African-American character who will resonate with girls who are facing transitions of their own, large or small - School Library Journal

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781526600936
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781526600936
Publication date: 6th February 2020
Author: Renee Watson
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers, YA readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, General Fiction, Personal Social Health Economic
Recommendations: Star Books

About Renee Watson

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 Photo credit: Shawnte Sims

More About Renee Watson

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