Piecing Me Together
Author: Renée Watson
Publication Date: February 14th, 2017
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: 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.
What I Think: I wish this book was around when I was in high school. There are so many emotions in this book but also so many examples of how Jade stands up for herself and what she needs. I think if I had examples of how teens deal with situations like Jade does, it might have helped me process my own experience. Instead, it took me a long time to realize and identify with being Latina. My childhood and high school experience was much different from Jade's but her story and the feelings she experiences would have been powerful for me to have as an example.
As a mentor text, I really appreciate how Renée has given readers and writers a character who doesn't hide from her emotions, she processes them and lets herself. Even more than that, she acts on her feelings too. Her writing is honest and true. Putting words to feelings is powerful. As a writer, there are definitely times when I don't realize I think or believe something until I write it down. Suddenly, I'm staring at words that are wholly true that I didn't even know existed as part of me and how I see the world. There is power in having a mentor text that helps you realize it's okay to face our thoughts and emotions and that writing them down can help us do just that. I would share the snatch of text and talk to students about how sometimes we have a feeling that is hard to describe. Then I would ask writers to try to write about that feeling and what is informing that feeling just like Renée Watson does here. After that, I would ask writers to reflect on how it feels to write about those feelings and to imagine how reader might appreciate this type of writing.
Snatch of Text:
"The lights fade.
My emotions are all mixed up and jumbled inside.
For the first two songs, all I can think about is that white woman's smiling face, her annoying voice. And even though we're all dressed up in our new clothes, even though none of us had opened our mouths and talked to her, she thought we were the kind of kids who wouldn't appreciate classical music. Makes me feel like no matter how dressed up we are, no matter how respectful we are, some people will only see what they want to see.
I try to let the music wash away that feeling that comes when white people make you feel special or stupid for no good reason. I don't know how to describe that feeling just to say that it's kind of like cold, sunny days. Something is discomforting about a sun that gives no heat but keeps shining." (p. 149)
Writing Prompt: Write about what Jade is feeling and why her emotions are all mixed up using evidence from the text. Write about a time in your life when you had mixed feelings and what made you feel that way.