My Rating: 4 Stars
A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author 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.
Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.
Beware spoilers ahead!
Trigger warning: Racism and police violence.
Piecing Me Together was completed during #rimpysreadsathon. Piecing Me Together was a book talked about last year through booktube. Surprisingly I hadn’t heard about it through GR or Twitter. After reading some reviews and seeing that it was in my library, I requested a copy. I’m very glad I did!
Through her mother’s encouragement Jade has taken every opportunity her school has offered. The latest opportunity is Woman to Woman. A mentorship program. Jade is initially reluctant to accept. Jade feels that she won’t gain anything from it, and it’s not really for her. Until her guidance counselor mentions that if Jade completes the program then she’ll receive a scholarship for any university in her area. Naturally Jade accepts. Throughout the book Jade learns more about speaking up, and gains some vital experiences.
I was happily surprised about how much I enjoyed Piecing Me Together! I didn’t have high expectations. It is narrated in first person following Jade’s point of view. Each chapter has title, wherein there is a word in English and translated to Spanish. Some chapters were shorter than others.
Jade was such a great character! I found her to be relatable. I too have some trouble speaking my mind from time to time. I loved reading about her growth and how she gained the courage to speak up! Jade actually read mature for her age, which I appreciated.
Throughout the story Jade struggles balancing her two worlds. At school she has to act and dress a specific way. At home she reverts to normal but her friends are still a bit apprehensive with her attending a mostly white school. Spanish and art is a huge part of Jade’s character. Jade makes collages about her surroundings and the people in her life. Her biggest dream is go to Spain and experience the culture first hand. I enjoyed reading about her passions and how much work she put into achieving her goals!
I loved Jade’s family! Her mother worked as a caretaker and was such a strong woman. She had a lot of good advice to give Jade and Maxine! And for once a parent in YA actually gave meaningful and relevant advice. Jade’s relationship with her uncle E. J. was so sweet!
Jade’s best friend Lee Lee was also fantastic! These two supported each other and were for each other there in times of need. Jade’s relationship with her mentor Maxine was also well done! They had lots of rough patches but in the end they became close. Maxine was a good mentor to Jade and two helped each other grow. Maxine frustrated me in the beginning. But once she told her side of the story, realized her mistakes, and started to grow I grew to admire her.
Jade’s relationship with Sam was complicated. Sam is a white poor girl, whereas Jade is a black poor girl. The author effortlessly shows the reader the difference between their situations and how it is linked to their skin tone. Sam does and says some pretty hurtful things to Jade. She realizes this comes back and apologizes. Jade also owns up to her own mistakes. Together they start their friendship anew with no more secrets from each other.
Woman to Woman was an amazing edition! I honestly wish there are books with this type of mentorship which I can read about. All the women had different experiences and supported each other! The trips that Sabrina assigned were fun to read about! I truly believe that all women should have access to this type of mentorship. Regardless of color and background. It’s necessary and you can gain so much knowledge.
Several different issues are brought up! From police violence, social class/status, racism, to catcalling. The author handles this all effortlessly without sounding preachy. I loved how Jade teams up with her fellow classmates and friends to do something to raise money for Natasha Ramsey, a black girl who was brutally attacked at a party. All the conflicts were realistic and I rooting for Jade.
I’m just going to mention two things that really surprised me. Towards the end of Piecing Me Together Jade confronts her teacher about not being nominated for the school trip to Costa Rica. He explains that he has to give other students a chance, and that Jade already has so many opportunities. Jade calls him out on his prejudice and leaves.
The teacher comes back around to Jade to apologize. He also mentions that she has been nominated for the trip next year. I found this to be truly beautiful! Rarely do you ever experience let alone read about a teacher realizing his/her mistakes. And actually acting upon that realization!
There is no romance! That’s right you heard me, a contemporary without romance. While it isn’t impossible it’s quite rare. Jade does make mention off maybe dating and getting married. Right now Jade remains focused on her life and school. I really appreciated this!
The only problem I had was that I wasn’t invested. I was enjoying reading but I just wasn’t invested. Then out of nowhere Piecing Me Together grabbed hold off me and never let go. I was invested in Jade’s life and all the characters. While this is a minor complaint it still prevented me from giving a 5 star rating.
Overall I really enjoyed this! I recommend this book for everyone. You’ll all find something to relate too.