Booktalking "Piecing Me Together" by Renee Watson
Jade is a junior at St. Francis High School, and she rides the bus across Portland, Oregon to attend the ritzy private school. Although she would feel more comfortable in the 'hood, she received a scholarship to attend the school, so she is pretty much required to go there. She enjoys the wide array of classes that they hold there, including cooking and Chinese, but she is one of a handful of students of color. She feels out of place in the mostly wealthy, white, privileged student body.
Luckily, Mrs. Parker, the girl's guidance counselor, keeps an eye on her, and she offers her a scholarship to college if she participates in the 'Mujer a mujer' mentorship program. Skeptical at first, Jade's fears are definitely not allayed by her mentor, Maxine's, habitual tardiness, unexpected visits, and her off-and-on relationship with her boyfriend, Jon. Despite all of this, Jade is somewhat intrigued by Maxine and her lifestyle. She enjoys talking with Maxine, Maxine's friends and going on exciting excursions to exotic destinations like the symphony.
Unfortunately for Jade, racism rears its ugly head often during her life, and it is hard when her white friends do not understand. Being asked to check her bag in a boutique store when the white customers shop freely with their belongings unfettered by store personnel. Getting in trouble for mouthing off to a teacher while a white girl does the same with no penalty. Having a white tour guide assume that she likes hip hop and not classical music. When are people going to stop treating her like a poor black girl and simply learn about who she is? At least Sabrina, the Woman to Woman participants, and Jade's friends from her neighborhood help her sift through all of it and create some meaning of her life.
The author places the struggles of a gifted black girl plagued by poverty and racism into focus. This work is one of the most brilliant that I have read this year. The lyricism of the prose is remarkable, and the real, gritty way that issues are tackled is phenomenal.