Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

I picked up this gem during every teacher’s favorite school event…the book fair!

After racing through this page-turner, I checked the copyright date. I was surprised that it was 2017. I found this during the fall of 2019. Where has this awesome YA novel been?

How many novels, of any genre, do we get set in Portland, Oregon? I loved this broadening of geographic experiences. As the novel begins, Jade is starting her junior year at the private school, St.Francis (“the best private school in Portland”).  She is nervous about her first day of school, although she has attended since her freshman year. Jade has ambitious goals for a teen from the “wrong side of town.” She’s a scholarship student who has a long commute to the other side of town. Her mom gives her a goal of making a real friend at St. Francis. Jade’s primary goal is to get a college scholarship and leave Portland in the dust.

Jade achieves her mom’s goal through the long bus ride through Portland’s neighborhoods to St.Francis. A white student from a neighborhood just a step above her neighborhood. Yet, there are bumps in the roads. The differences between a white scholarship student and a black scholarship student present roadblocks that tear at the friendship.  

As her junior year continues, Jade is offered “opportunities” through her school’s counseling office. Readers are privy to Jade’s frustration with opportunities she’s frequently offered. She’s aware that her particular demographics as a low-income, black student makes her a target for certain programs. However, the “Woman to Woman” mentoring program eventually contributes to Jade’s growth and procession to her goals. 

The final part of the novel is a perfect example of “falling action.” What happens after Jade finds her voice with her mentor is inspirational.

Piecing Me Together is an excellent novel to use with seventh through twelfth graders. . The characters have depth, the theme is mature, and fantastic discussions about the plot can be encouraged.

piecing me together

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