From the Publisher
"Funny and deeply affecting, this novel by the Steptoe Award winner for Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It (2007) revisits the still largely unexplored world of multiracial heritage...Frazier highlights the contradictions, absurdities, humor and pain that accompany life as a mixed-race tween. Never didactic, this is the richest portrait of multiracial identity and family since Virginia Hamilton's 1976 novel Arilla Sun Down. An outstanding achievement."
-Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A novel with a great deal of heart indeed..."
- Booklist, starred review
From the Hardcover edition.
VOYA - Ruth Cox Clark
Frazier, a John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning author, delves into the lives of biracial eleven-year-old sisters light skinned Minni and dark-skinned Keira. Minni is the quiet and reserved twin, whereas Keira inherited their Irish father's feisty spirit. Growing up on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State means Minni blends in at school, but Keira does not. At the request of their maternal grandmother, the twins visit North Carolina to participate in Miss Black Pearl, a competition for African American girls. As she feared, Minni is told that she doesn't belong there by an ill-mannered contestant, but Keira comes to her sister's defense. A shame-faced Minni realizes that she has never come to Keira's defense when skin color-related incidents have happened to her. The relationship between the sisters gets tense and Minni seeks solace from her grandmother's arch nemesis Miss Oliphant, whose skin is almost as light as Minni's. When Minni asks, "Do you consider yourself more black or white?" Miss Oliphant replies, "I contain multitudes.... [b]ut I consider myself black." Why? "Because that's what fits my soul." Minni comes to realize what fits her soul is that she is a mixture of black and white, of her mother and father, and of all the people who came before her. And just as importantly, it is okay for Keira to answer differently. What truly matters is that they will always be sisters. Although a bit heavy with didacticism, Frazier brings to life two unique sisters whose love for each other overcomes all obstacles put between them. Reviewer: Ruth Cox Clark
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Most of the novels I review are in the "okay" category, but every once in a while I get a stunner to read. This is a stunner. Eleven-year-old twins Minni (Minerva) and Keira King have been turning heads all their lives since Minni is red haired and fair skinned like Daddy and Keira is dark haired and dark skinned like Mama. People are always mistaking them as just being friends, instead of twin sisters and best friends. Nobody thinks of Minni as being black, so she feels left out of the family. Things get even more complicated when their maternal grandmother insists they compete in the Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America Pageant/Program in Atlanta, Georgiaa world away from their small town in Washington state. Even Mama spends as little time as possible talking with her mother; how are the girls going to deal living with her house for ten whole days? Minni doesn't want to go, but Keira is thrilled to be in the pageant just like Mama was. The pageant organizers almost don't let Minni enter since she looks so white, but Grandmother prevails and Minni learns a song for the talent part. In the meantime, Grandmother works on making Keira "whiter." Minni learns that Keira has always felt like an outsider at home since there are few black people in their town. Because Minni is the whitest girl in the pageant, she understands Keira's pain, something she had never realized before. In the end Minni develops enough courage to confront Grandmother about her unfair treatment of Keira. Their grandmother explains what it was like growing up in the south before desegregation and how hurt she was when she discovered her blackness was holding back her lighter skinned grandmother. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
Funny and deeply affecting, this novel by the Steptoe Award winner for Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It (2007) revisits the still largely unexplored world of multiracial heritage. Twin daughters of a black mom and white dad, Minerva and Keira King, 11, fly from Washington State to North Carolina to stay with oppressive Grandmother Johnson and compete in the Miss Black Pearl Preteen pageant. The narrator, shy Minni, who appears white, is reluctant; outgoing Keira, who appears black, is thrilled. Back home, Minni has unknowingly benefited from white privilege, while Keira's appearance has subjected her to bias. In North Carolina, Keira fits in, and Minni stands out. Although she's favored by their grandmother, Minni's white appearance leads others to question her right to identify as black. As their experience of race threatens to divide the sisters, Minni struggles to heal the rift. Frazier highlights the contradictions, absurdities, humor and pain that accompany life as a mixed-race tween. Never didactic, this is the richest portrait of multiracial identity and family since Virginia Hamilton's 1976 novel Arilla Sun Down. An outstanding achievement. (Fiction. 9-12)
Read an Excerpt
Mama was always pointing out that of the millions of genes that made them all human, only seven or eight told their skin what color to be. A minuscule number, she said. A very small difference.
So that was what Minni chose to believe, even though somewhere deep inside her brain, in a little drawer she rarely let herself open, lived the concern that the difference she'd been assured didn't matter actually mattered a lot.
She squeezed her sister's hand and made an early birthday wish: May nothing ever, ever come between Keira and me. Nothing—big or small.