HomeBest Kids StoriesPiecing me Together, by Renée Watson | Book Review
Piecing me Together by Renee Watson Book Review

Piecing me Together, by Renée Watson | Book Review

The Children’s Book Review | February 24, 2016

Piecing Me TogetherPiecing me Together

Written by Renée Watson

Hardcover: 272 pages

Age Range: 12-16

Publisher: Bloomsbury (2017)

ISBN: 978-1-68119-105-8

What to Expect: Realism, Teen Challenges, Issues of Race and Discrimination

It is a frequent complaint of teachers, librarians, and children’s literature scholars that authentic and well-written multicultural literature is difficult to find. Renée Watson’s new novel, Piecing me Together, goes some way towards addressing this scarcity, in a story which is both challenging and accessible.

Jade comes from a poor, black neighborhood and a poor, black family. She is talented and lucky enough to be constantly attracting “opportunities”: the opportunity to attend a prestigious, “white” high-school paid for by scholarship money, the opportunity to make friends with children outside of her neighborhood and social group, and now the dubious opportunity to attend a mentoring program for “at risk” children, which may end in a college scholarship. It is not that Jade is not grateful for these opportunities: she has worked hard for them, and recognizes that they represent her “way out”. At the same time, however, she cannot help questioning the underlying assumptions that lurk behind each kind offer: the assumption that without help she will go wrong or waste her life, the assumption that her own family and friends are not enough, and even the assumption that all black women and girls can relate to one another. What she wants more than anything is the opportunity to participate in the study-abroad service program: a program that will, for once in her life, be about what she can give rather than what she needs. As she enters her junior year at St Francis, her soul-searching narrative will show just how fragile an identity can be.

Most compelling about Piecing me Together is the simple, engaging narrative voice, reminiscent of Beverley Naidoor’s writing. Capturing the directness of childish thought, but also the complexity of thought of which young adults are only just beginning to be capable, Jade’s voice rings with authenticity. If this story is a plea for greater understanding and empathy, then it is a perfect tool for fostering that engagement in readers, allowing them a glimpse into problems and triumphs which challenge social conventions, and yet remain utterly relatable. A fantastic read, and one which teachers in particular will want to sit up and take stock of.

Available Here: 

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Explore Piecing Me Together further with Dr. Jen Harrison in this article: Dialogue and Narrative Voice in Piecing me Together

About Renée Watson

RENÉE 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.

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Piecing me Together, by Renée Watson, was reviewed by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like Piecing Me Together by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with  and .

Jen Harrison currently teaches English Composition and Composition Skills at East Stroudsburg University. She completed her PhD in Children's and Victorian Literature at Aberystwyth University in Wales, in the UK. There she also acted as an instructor teaching undergraduate courses on literature and literary theory, as well as further education courses on Children's Literature and Creative Writing. After a brief spell in administration, Jen then trained as a secondary school English teacher, and worked for several years teaching Secondary School English, working independently as a private tutor of English, and working in nursery and primary schools as a substitute teacher. After moving from the UK to the USA in 2016, Jen is very happy to have returned to higher education. Her current research focuses on three primary areas in the field of children’s literature: reader-writer relationships, thing-theory, and the supernatural; she is a reviewer for the International Research Society for the Study of Children’s Literature (IRSCL), as well as the Children's Book Review. Jen also writes an academic blog on Children's Literature, Worrisome Words: http://quantum.esu.edu/faculty/jharrison/. You can also find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.harrison.73594

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