A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Renee Watson's Piecing Me Together won the 2018 Coretta Scott King Author Award and was named a 2018 Newbery Honor Book. It's the story of a 16-year-old high-achieving African American high school student on scholarship at an exclusive, mostly white Portland, Oregon, private school, who gets help from a mentor and defies stereotypes. The novel deals with issues of identity, self-image, race and gender bias, privilege, and the power of art. Parents should be prepared to answer questions about police brutality, socioeconomic differences, stereotypes, and learning about yourself.
What's the story?
In PIECING ME TOGETHER, Jade is a high-achieving student and artist (in collage and photography) at an exclusive private school. She's the person other students turn to when they need help in school, but for some reason, all anyone else can see is that she needs help. Just because she doesn't have a lot of money, is African American, and comes from a poor neighborhood, everyone is always trying to fix what's "wrong" with her. The truth is there's nothing wrong with her. She has a lot she can give to the world if they'd only wake up and realize that in trying to fix her, they shatter her whole self every time she steps foot out the door. When she's nominated to take part in a mentorship program with an African American mentor, Jade balks, but the promise of a full college scholarship at the end makes it too good to pass up. Can she accept this extra help and still keep the pieces of herself together? Can she affect change in her world, or will she be shattered beyond repair?
Is it any good?
Readers will fall in love with real, poignant, and lovely Jade the moment they step into her brilliant, colorful mind, seeing the world as she does in all its beauty and contradictions. Piecing Me Together is so layered and beautifully put together, the fully fleshed-out characters come alive and become our friends, sisters, and mentors. Author Renee Watson makes the case for seeing African American girls and women as they are, not as the stereotypes foisted on them.
There's a humanity that Watson touches on that makes the story, situations, and characters relatable while giving a megaphone to voices that are traditionally silenced. This is a must-read not only for girls but also for parents and educators of both genders.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the portrayal of African American girls and women in Piecing Me Together. How does it compare with their portrayals in the media? What are some stereotypes about them and how they live? How do you think that affects how people treat them in real life?
Have you ever been stereotyped? How did it make you feel? What images and media reinforce that same stereotype? What media and people defy those stereotypes?
Have you ever had a mentor? Why are mentors important? What do Jade and Maxine learn from their relationship?
- Author: Renee Watson
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
- Publication date: February 14, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 261
- Available on: Hardback, Kindle
- Awards: Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors, Newbery Medal and Honors
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