“And this makes me wonder if a black girl’s life is only about being stitched together and coming undone, being stitched together and coming undone.” The latest novel from Renée Watson captures the poignant story of a black teenage girl struggling to navigate a world that doesn’t appear to accept her.
Jade Butler lives in an impoverished area of Portland, Oregon, and is raised by a single mother who works tirelessly so that Jade can attend a prestigious private high school. There, Jade is given lots of opportunities, such as free SAT prep classes and tutoring jobs. When Jade is invited to participate in a mentorship program for African-American girls, she is disappointed. She’s tired of being selected for programs where the only criteria is being black and poor. She just wants to be nominated for the study abroad trip to Costa Rica, but it’s difficult to refuse these opportunities when so much is riding on her success.
Piecing Me Together is a beautifully written story told through the first-person narration of a girl who, despite being smart, strong and artistic, still feels like she has to overcome her race, gender and socio-economic status. This has as much to do with the actions of the adults in her life—as well intentioned as they may be—as it does with the undercurrent of racism and classism. There’s a lot to unpack here, and readers will finish the story with more questions than answers—a testament to the novel’s complexity and nuance.
Kimberly Giarratano is the author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, a young adult paranormal mystery.