Over the course of my adult years, I’ve dipped in and out of a few book clubs. One of the reasons I love participating in book clubs is that it inevitably inspires me to read books I might not otherwise select myself. Such is the case with Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together. I typically enjoy reading young adult books, but I’m not sure I would have stumbled upon this title without the encouragement of my book club.
Intended Audience of Piecing Me Together
Piecing Me Together is a young adult book, which is typically intended for children 12-18 years old. However, compared to other young adult books I’ve read, I think a younger reader with high ability and maturity could read this book and enjoy it. I would also encourage adults of teenagers to pick up this book. I found I could really relate to the main character’s coming-of-age struggles, so it is a great reminder for me as a parent of the challenges of these often difficult years.
Summary of Piecing Me Together
This book follows a year in the life of high school sophomore Jade, an African American girl attending an elite private high school far from her home in a neighborhood plagued by poverty. The reader follows along as Jade navigates these two different worlds, including her struggle to be seen as a person with talent and skills, not just as a student in need of support. Two focal points of the book include her relationship with her assigned adult mentor, as well as her passion for art through collage and photography.
What to Know Before You Read Piecing Me Together
Tweens and teens who read this book will likely have questions or concerns about difficult topics the book touches on, like police brutality and the realities of poverty. Jade and her friends rally around a local girl who is beaten by a police officer, though they do not know her personally and there is very little description of the assault itself. Jade and her mom struggle to make ends meet, and this includes Jade facing moments of hunger that I think many teens more accustomed to opening a fridge or a pantry full of food will find eye opening. There is some adult language, though it is not excessive.
Why You Should Read Piecing Me Together
There are many on-ramps in this book that give the reader a sense of connection with Jade. Even though her circumstances are drastically different from my own (and I suspect many readers of the book), she is the type of character many people can identify with. From her struggles with self image, to friendship dynamics, to her interest in art and travel, to her love of learning a foreign language, she has so many dimensions. It was easy to fall in love with her and care deeply for her, and from there, the rest of the book just falls into place.
Also, for adults who find themselves in a mentor capacity with young people of any age (teachers, “big brothers or sisters,” sports coaches, etc.), this could be a very powerful read. By the end of the book, Jade finds her voice in addressing some of the troubling aspects of her mentor-mentee relationship and the support group she’s a part of. As adults, the feedback she shares is worth exploring.
After You Read Piecing Me Together
Some of the women in my book club worked on collage art during our discussion, which I thought was such a great idea. Perhaps you and your child could do a group project, or make each other a piece of art like Jade. Or go on a photo walk in your community and find beauty in the unexpected, as Jade does. Attend a local art show, or seek out information about causes like Black Lives Matter.
There are also several mentions of real people and artists in this book that are fun to search out online and explore in more depth. Our book club looked at some of the famous collage art that Jade discovers through a trip to a local bookstore, and I researched some of the poetry brought up during her planning of an open mic night.
If You Like Piecing Me Together, Read These Books Next:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (our review of The Hate U Give)
What Momma Left Me, This Side of Home, Some Places More Than Others, Watch Us Rise (other titles by Renee Watson)
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
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Want to read other reviews of books we recommend? We have a page full of book recommendations broken down by age range.