Piecing Me Together - 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.
This is a gorgeous novel about a young black girl living in a poorer neighbourhood, going to a private school populated by mostly white students, and dealing with the assumptions and stereotypes placed on her by the world around her. The Women to Women mentorship program is chosen for her by a well-meaning school counsellor, but Jade's mentor ends up being (at least at first) seemingly unsuited for the job, often showing up late or being distracted by phone calls from her ex-boyfriend.
The ways that Watson examines race relations and the micro-aggressions that Jade continually encounters is nuanced, avoiding the didacticism of other texts. Intersectionality is a huge part of examining racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and trans/homophobia, and I feel that Watson has done an incredible job of incorporating that intersectional approach within Jade's narrative. Jade also has a fantastic, strong voice, and feels empowered to be herself in many ways. Also, as Kelly Jensen notes in her review of the novel, "Jade describes herself as a big girl, and her ways of navigating the 'fat/thin' lines are compelling and so realistic they hurt."
This novel is a really great addition to this year's already strong lineup of novels dealing with racial tension and violence in America (just look at Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and Ibi Zoboi's American Street). Renée Watson is a talented author and a wonderful human being. I look forward to seeing and hearing people's reactions to this incredible book.