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Book Review: Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

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

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Want to read other reviews of books we recommend? We have a page full of book recommendations broken down by age range.

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Family Favorite Reads from 2018-2019

The 2018-2019 school year is in officially in the books for our part of the country and nearing the end for most everyone else. As classroom teachers helped kids collect memories for yearbooks and best of lists, we wondered what books members of our families will remember most. And be sure you’re following us on social media this summer: we’ve taken the #bookaday challenge and we’re sharing book recommendations each and every day! (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)

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Book Review: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

My 9-year-old son recently asked me, “what’s the name of the genre of books that are about people who have had difficult lives?” He had just finished the book “Wish,” by Barbara O’Connor and was doing some self-reflection as far as what to read next. The writer nerd in me loved that he was making the connection between books like “Wish,” “Wonder,” etc., with some of the interesting biographies he’s read (like the Who Was series and the True Tales of Childhood series). The next book I’m going to suggest he read? “Fish in a Tree” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. I don’t think there is a named genre as my son described it, but this book certainly fits his interest in this type of main character.

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The Best Stocking Stuffers for Young Readers

There are countless parenting pitfalls that I’ve fallen into. One is stuffing my children’s stockings with plastic junk, courtesy of last-minute, panic-stricken trips to Target and the Dollar Store on December 23. As my children have gotten older, we’ve tried to teach them to place less value on stuff, and more value on new experiences, quality time together, and doing those things you most enjoy. It became very apparent that my stocking stuffers didn’t pass my own sniff test.

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Books as Treats: Halloween-Inspired Book Recommendations and Reading Ideas for Every Age

I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween. Love the decorations, the thrill of deciding on and putting together costumes, the chatting with neighbors as we trick or treat. Hate the extreme sugar rush my kids come home from school with, come home from trick or treating with, and the fights over how much candy they can have each and every day after.

One way to alleviate a bit of the candy coma is by treating your children with books, and encouraging family (like those spoil-them-rotten grandparents!) to do the same. We typically get our kids a Halloween book each fall, or we’ll check out a stack from the library. Over the years, we’ve built a nice collection without ever spending more than $10-15 each October. It’s fun to read one or two each night in the week leading up, and sometimes for days after if we’re still in the spirit.

Books are a way to extend enjoyment of this holiday in a way that doesn’t give kids cavities.

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Tips for Shopping the School Book Fair

At many schools around the country, librarians are frantically (pulling their hair out) getting ready for the school book fair. And it’s a right of passage for children, too… many of us can remember walking into the library with our class, money clenched tight in our fist, anticipating what treasured book we might bring home.

As parents and caregivers, the book fair can sometimes leave us a bit confused or unsure about how to help our child make the most of this event.

It is an important moment on the school calendar, for two big reasons: Read More

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Every summer my kids tend to get hooked on a particular TV show during their allotted screen time. Last summer, it was Phineas and Ferb and they spent all their free time pretending to go on crazy adventures like those boys do. This summer, they fell in love with Netflix’s Who Was show, based on the best-selling Who Was series of books.

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Thoughts on the Who Was TV Show

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But how to balance your child’s need to move with your desire to read to them in an enjoyable way? We’ve got some tips and book ideas to help.

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And the Oscar goes to…

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Here are some fool-proof resources for great children’s book recommendations… some for when you have loads of time to browse with your child and a few that take only a few seconds!

Helpful Sources for Children’s Book Recommendations

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