Piecing Me Together

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How do you figure out who you are when you live in two worlds?  Jade gets up early to take the bus across town to St. Francis, the private high school that has granted her a scholarship.  As the bus ride takes her away from her friends, her modest home and the world she knows, it carries her toward her hopes for a future.  This will be her ticket to college and a life as an artist.  For her there just might not be a life of working to eat, a jar of pennies for a savings account and just enough to get by.

Jade's mother urges her to make friends at St. Francis. Jade has a best friend, Lee Lee, who attends Northside, the school that holds Jade's old friends and the path she knows.  On the bus this time, Jade sees a girl board and disappear into a book.  Book Girl turns out to be Sam and in a short time, the two girls are friends, supporting each other as they deal with the rich kids whose parents have housekeepers to help around the house.  Jade's mother is the housekeeper.  Two different worlds.

St. Francis is filled with opportunities and the guidance counselor, Mrs. Parker, keeps a close eye on Jade and makes sure she is given extra support.  Jade's dream is to study abroad and she knows Junior year is the year when the lucky students are chosen.  When she is asked to go to Mrs. Parker's office, her thoughts are that this is it.  This is the moment when she's going to be told she's been selected.  It turns out Mrs. Parker has selected Jade to be part of a mentoring program called Woman-To-Woman.

Sometimes people's best intentions to help miss the mark and become messages of criticism.  Month after month Jade and her mentor, Maxine, visit museums and restaurants.  But Jade feels something is missing from the program.   What will it take for Jade to ask for what she needs? Who makes the decisions about who gets what in this world?  How can Jade learn what she needs to cope with money management and other life skills?

This is the story of a young black girl who wants to find herself and to figure out how to make a place for herself in the world.  Her neighborhood, her friends, black families who have succeeded, black families who suffer tragedy, well-meaning teachers, teachers who need to broaden their understanding of who Jade is as a person, and above all her steel-spined mother,  are all mirrors and guides and pieces of her world that eventually create the place where Jade can decide how she wants to piece herself together.

262 pages    978-1681191058   Ages 12 and up

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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