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A captivating and poignant coming-of-age urban YA debut about sisters, friends, and what it means to embrace change.
Maya Younger and her identical twin sister, Nikki, have always agreed on the important things. Friends. Boys. School. They even plan to attend the same historically African American college.
But nothing can always remain the same.
As their Portland neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, Maya feels her connection to Nikki and their community slipping away. Nikki spends more time at trendy coffee shops than backyard barbecues, and their new high school principal is more committed to erasing the neighborhood's "ghetto" reputation than honoring its history. Home doesn't feel like home anymore. As Maya struggles to hold on to her black heritage, she begins to wonder with whomor whereshe belongs. Does growing up have to mean growing apart?
In a captivating coming-of-age story, Renée Watson explores the experiences, transitions, and cultural expectations of young African Americans in a changing world.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||13 Years|
About the Author
RENÉE WATSON is the author the teen novels, Piecing Me Together and This Side of Home, and two acclaimed 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I wanted more from this novel. After reading this novel, I got the message that you should do what you want to do in your life no matter what anyone else is doing and no matter what you have “planned” to do previously. For times change and people change, so you need to do what is best for you when the time comes. The novel is centered on identical twins that have lived across the street from Essence for years. The girls are now in their senior year of high school and Essence ends up moving. They are still able to see each other but the convenience of being across the street from each other is now taken away. Kate and Tony have now moved into the house across the street. Nikki begins to hang out with the new neighbors while Maya continues her committed relationship with Essence. Maya feels that Nikki has betrayed Essence, as she is no longer a part of their threesome. The three had made college plans together and suddenly they are disintegrating. Times are changing as other relationships are falling away and new ones are forming. Individuals are changing, life is moving forward and people are forming opinions of one another. Maya seemed too concerned over other people’s opinion especially her father’s. She is concerned about her relationship with Tony. She is willing to take drastic measures to ensure that other’s happiness is achieved above her own. I was surprised that Maya would bow down to this level but there is pride within her and fear that overcomes everything. I liked that Maya was proud of her heritage and that she wanted others to feel the same way. I loved that she felt proud when someone of color makes an accomplishment and that she felt shameful when they failed at something, she took everything that a person of color personable, what they did was a reflection on her. I thought the novel should have cried out its message stronger and louder for I felt it had a great storyline, it just lacked execution. A good novel about diversity and taking a stand.
I don't have the nook copy. But i read it and ot was awesome!
This Side of Home by Renee WatsonRenee Watson's riveting and poetic novel, "This Side of Home," works on so many levels. I couldn't put it down. It is more than another universal teen growing pains YA book, it is very specific to time and place: Portland, OR and the current gentrification craze, rendering a middle and working class Black neighborhood lost to White gentrifiers. Aside from Watson's wry observations about Latte life and trendy boutiques, her character observations are keen and free of us/them stereotyping. The main character, Maya, regrets many losses. Her twin Nikki seems more enamored of their new White neighbors than of their long time best friend, Essence, who sadly has to move away with her alcoholic and dysfunctional mother. But Maya's conflicts are real, and complex, not easily fixed in a plot or story of a simpler order. For starters, she likes the pleasant new neighbor, Tony. She despairs of the choices Essence makes, and laments the gradual crumbling of the tight circle of friends and expectations about how they'd all go to college together. Watson does not shy away from controversy, and fully and bravely takes on classism, interracial dating and friendship, and key issues that effect teens today, without sacrificing a good story about a likable character navigating a bewildering world. Adult characters, busybody neighbors, a journalism teacher, and the parents, are realistically drawn but never overshadow the teens and their struggles. The language and style are lyrical and visual, and took me, as a reader, into a world that was both recognizable and unfamiliar. I recommend this book to students and teachers, and will share it with students I teach and tutor in New York City. There is much to think about and digest in This Side of Home.
Tackling the bigger societal issues of race, gentrification and cultural identification is a huge undertaking and wholly daunting. Renée Watson brings us the tale of twin sisters, Nikki and Maya (both named after lauded African American poets) come from a neighborhood that is a little run down, lacking in diversity, and about to undergo a large change. While Nikki is more open to the earlier changes and sees opportunities that her sister Maya may miss, the whole plethora of issues large and small are tackled from the perspective of one young girl who is struggling to find her own place in the changing landscape. Beautifully written with concepts that are far more complex broken into smaller, easy to relate-to pieces, this story gives readers to see into the turmoil and tumult, concerns and questions that arise, and see just how much things need to change to actually make impacts that are more than superficial. Maya starts out a little close-minded and perhaps incorrect in her beliefs and behavior as she faces the change around her. Still reeling from the loss of her best friend, she is hurting and can only relate to the rest of the changes from that perspective. Introducing Tony to show her that stepping away and looking at situations from a distance can improve her perspective was a welcomed addition to the story, and gives her the ability to see the positive in the changes, not just the list of issues still unaddressed. Strongly feeling the slow diminishment of her ‘black culture’ that has always been important to her, Maya needs to learn that you can carry your self-identification with you everywhere you go, and insert it into your situations: but to only experience one way of things is lessening your own potential and experience, and just as remaining true to who you are is important, retaining the ability to adapt and grow as all things change is more so. I loved the approach of this story, showing the girls learning and coming to realize that not all changes mean that they are leaving something behind, but that they can find enrichment and enjoyment in more ways. Accepting that change happens is part of getting older and learning who you are and will be. A bit more message-driven, although most of the messages are subtly woven into the tale and shown as the girls grow, this is a great story to introduce tweens and teens to the larger issues of racial identity and diversity. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This is a book everyone should read. Beautifully written and thought-provoking, This Side of Home takes a refreshingly honest look at how cultural changes affects not only the relationship between twin sisters Maya and Nikki, but everyone around them, regardless of the color of their skin. What I Liked: ~ The sisterly bond between Maya and Nikki, how they challenged and supported each other. ~ Their longtime friendship with Essence as well as the ones they formed with the new kids. ~ Maya and Nikki's parents, because they are FANTASTIC. ~ The conversation between Maya and Nikki that takes place on pages 234-235 (in the ARC version) was eye-opening and made me want to wrap both girls up in a hug. ~ Tony. ~ Gentrification plays a key role in the changes that take place and while it tends to be a hot topic, Renée Watson depicts both sides of the discussion without demonizing either one. Favorite Quote(s): I know how I felt always being portrayed as the victim. I'm sure being seen as the perpetrator feels just as awful. "Am I a hypocrite?" I ask. "You're a black girl who fell in love with a white boy." "And a black girl who cares about race and class issues." [She] leans back in the chair. "You can be both." Mom tells me, "Some people will like you and some won't. What's more important is: Do you like yourself?"
This story hit me hard from the very beginning because of how open and honest it was; Maya has lived in a rough part of Portland her whole life but now it is becoming swanky and upscale which is hard for her to deal with. It was interesting to see her point of view on how things were evolving because she is a fiercely strong character who takes pride in her roots; she’s stubborn and closed off to any kind of change, even if it was for the better, which makes the current situation hard to deal with. Honestly, this book was a bit of a conundrum for me, it was a quick read but yet really hard to get through; Maya’s view on the world hit me in the feels, it was honest but she also had a lot of flawed views. Following her on her journey was really insightful and I’m glad that I got the chance to read this book. Maya has so much pride in her heritage and her history that she fights for people to see the good of her school and of her race but she yet she has a hard time finding beauty in the lives of the people who are joining her community. She struggles with not wanting to disregard the hardships and successes of her race which actually made the story compelling, I enjoyed her journey. The other characters, including Tony, a white boy who moves into the neighborhood, are all really great in their interactions with Maya and I loved seeing how they influenced her. The ending was rushed, what I was expecting to take one hundred plus pages only took like thirty with even more things happening that needed EVEN MORE pages to fully resolve but that’s my only complaint. It’s a choppy book which I didn’t mind but I could understand if someone didn’t really like that. Overall, I really enjoyed it because it was a great diversity book that had some really great lessons.