Yes, I’m a little late to the party, but we are gonna roll with it.
Piecing Me Together is Renée Watson’s 2017 YA novel following Jade, a poor Black girl living in Portland and is on scholarship at the private, majority-white high school across town. When Jade is called to her counselor’s office on the first day of junior year, she thinks it about the spring break volunteer trip to Costa Rica–instead, it is about the Woman to Woman mentorship program. Jade is disappointed but elects to be a part of the program due to the promise of a scholarship. Still, what Jade wants more than anything is for her opportunities to stop being about supporting her, and instead, be about the ways she can help others.
In all transparency, I read this for my YA Lit class, BUT as someone who has been eyeing Renée Watson’s books for a while now, I was really excited to get into this one. This was a really beautiful book that touched on so many different themes including white allyship, white poverty vs. Black poverty, inclusive curriculum, mentorship and adulthood, and art as activism, to name a few. The book takes place over an entire school year and manages to pace itself well shows continuing character development both for the protagonist and her companions up until the final pages.
The story’s central theme is about finding your voice, something many teens struggle with, but especially young Black girls like Jade who are particularly silenced in numerous ways. In the first quarter of the book, I found Jade to act a lot younger than she was supposed to be, imagining her as a 14-year-old rather than a 16 or 17-year-old. However, as the book progressed and Jade found her voice, I found her really coming into her own and discovering who she is and what she wants to say to the world. Throughout, Jade was a very relatable character and her struggles are heartbreakingly accurate for many young, poor, Black girls.
Overall, this book tackles a lot of major themes with grace and is a wonderful intersectional story perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo or Jason Reynolds. I am definitely keeping Renée Watson on my radar in the future!