Saturday, 24 January 2015

Review: This Side of Home by Renee Watson

Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything—friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.

In her inspired YA debut, Renée Watson explores the experience of young African-American women navigating the traditions and expectations of their culture.

Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is February 3rd 2015.

The synopsis provided for this story pretty much captures the essence of this story (too funny that one of the characters names is Essence!).  This story is about two sisters who are experiencing changes in their environment and how they deal with it differently.  It addresses the need to stay true to their ethnic and cultural identities while learning how change impacts them and who they are.

Ultimately it is a story of acceptance without compromising your identity and values.  Written in an easy to read style this results in a pretty quick read.  This would be an ideal read for those who enjoy the YA genre but are not really looking for the sappy romance.  It addresses some real cultural situations (although somewhat glossed over) and is more a coming of age type of drama.

Overall an easy and enjoyable read.

About the Author
      Renée Watson is the author of the children’s picture book, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Random House, June 2010), which was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as the New Voice for 2010 in middle grade fiction by The Independent Children's Booksellers Association.

Renée’s one woman show, Roses are Red, Women are Blue, debuted at New York City's Lincoln Center at a showcase for emerging artists. Her poetry and articles have been published in Rethinking Schools, Theatre of the Mind and With Hearts Ablaze.

When Renée is not writing and performing, she is teaching. Renée has worked in public schools and community organizations as an artist in residence for several years, teaching poetry, fiction, and theater in Oregon, Louisiana, and New York City. She also facilitates professional development workshops for teachers and artists.

One of Renée’s passions is using the arts to help youth cope with trauma. She has facilitated poetry and theatre workshops with young girls coping with sexual and physical abuse, children who have witnessed violence, children coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and children who relocated to New York City after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Renée graduated from The New School, where she studied Creative Writing and earned a certificate in Drama Therapy.

Renée currently lives in New York City.

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