I received this book for free from Bloomsbury USA Childrens in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Published by Bloomsbury on February 14th 2017
Source: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
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A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.
Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. 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.
But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her 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.
Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.
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Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson is a powerful story about a girl from a poor neighborhood striving to find a way to succeed. I loved how this story covered the facts on finding yourself and also what it means to be a girl of color in America. This story was filled with so much heart and I fell in love with it. Piecing Me Together covers issues like race, discrimination, art, friendship, and feminism. With everything this book covers it had a lot of information compacted into it.
Jade is a student at a school filled with mostly white kids. One of the things I enjoyed were the female friendships. I was proud when Jade was able to find her voice and speak for herself. No one can know what she is going through if she doesn’t express or share what she feels. When Jade’s teacher looks at Jade’s situation, she ends up suggesting that Jade become a part of a mentor-ship program. This program really helped Jade develop as an individual. Watson sets up Jade’s character as someone you want to see succeed.
I really liked that Watson wrote hope into her book. I think so often that hope is a trait that people look over. Having hope is a big part of our world. Young people need to have more hope. They need to know that the world is not doomed and they are not doomed. Hope can change one person’s entire outlook and outcome. I really liked that the hope in this book is tied with art. I also think that art is very important. Art is a way for someone to express themselves. I really appreciate that we are able to see that art can show and share hope too.
One of the things that I didn’t understand and part of it could be that I just missed it in the story. This story takes place in Portland, OR. This is where I live. Portland is one of the most accepting of people. I feel like in a way Portland accepts people who are different more than not. Part of me wonders if this books is looking at a pass situation because I know that Watson grew up in Portland or if this is supposed to be set more present day. Every city is going to have issues and you are going to find people that will never accept you for who you are. I deal with this more often than not. I also think that Portland has come along way from the issues that are brought up in this book. I am also looking at this that I could be a bit more sensitive on the topic because of the fact that I do live here.
Interview with Renee
Ali: Thank you so much for stopping by Dazzled by Books today. To start off this interview I wanted to ask what is your favorite book of 2017 so far?
Renee: One Last Word by Nikki Grimes. First, I love anything that Nikki writes but this book in particular is my favorite 2017 book because it’s a book of poems in response to poets of the Harlem Renaissance. It is such a brilliant work and the illustrations that accompany each poem are just as powerful and thought provoking as her words.
A: Did you always want to be a writer?
R: Yes and no. When I was seven-years-old I wrote a 21-page story and my teacher told me, “I think you’re going to be a writer.” I didn’t understand back then that I could be an actual published writer making a living off of creating and sharing stories. But I did take myself seriously as a writer and so, at a very young age, I was writing poems and plays and putting on shows in the community. I always knew I’d keep writing—no matter what. I had to. It was the way I processed what was happening in my world. But as far as being a professional writer, I don’t think I realized I could want that.
A: Wow! That is such a young age to find something you are so passionate about. What do you think inspires your writing?
R: I’m inspired by a lot of things—my childhood, the news, history, conversations I overhear while riding the subway or walking down the street.
A: What was the hardest part writing “Piecing Me Together”?
R: The hardest part was developing the characters of Maxine and Mrs. Parker. They both have good intentions but the impact of their intentions is harmful in many scenes. I wanted to show that complexity without vilifying either of them.
A: What is your favorite thing about writing “Piecing Me Together“?
R: I loved writing the scenes when Jade is with Lee Lee. They have such a strong friendship and every time Lee Lee is in a scene she is giving some of her strength to Jade. I’ve had friends like that in my life, who get me and know just what to say when I need to hear it.
I also enjoyed writing the art making scenes when Jade is creating her collages. It was freeing to experiment with chapter length and let some passages be more abstract than others.
A: I love those art making scenes. They were definitely some of my favorites. Do you have any habits while writing? For example: a specific snack food you have to have or maybe music playing in the background?
R: I almost always have tea whenever I’m writing and I write to music. It’s hard to write in silence. I make a soundtrack for each book and play it as I write. When writing Piecing Me Together I listened to “Black Gold” by Esperanza Spalding over and over again—and too many Beyoncé songs to count.
A: What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing?
R: I love watching movies (dramas, documentaries, romantic comedies) and I’m always up for going to brunch with a group of friends on a lazy Saturday morning.
A: I have some bonus questions that I would love to ask for fun. First off, do you know the muffin man?
R: No. I haven’t met him yet.
A: Disney Princess or Disney Villain? Why?
R: Hmm. Definitely not a villain but I’m not sure about the princess title either.
A: Thank you so much Renee for stopping by. I hope you have a good rest of your day. To our readers. Definitely go check out Piecing Me Together.