Renee Watson's young adult novel is set in Portland, Oregon, where gentrification threatens to erase a primarily black neighborhood's history. Follow twins Maya and Nikki as they come of age in a quickly changing city and find the meaning of "home." This is not only a story of transformation but one of discovery and healing. Recommended By Lisa A., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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, Renee Watson explores the experience of young African-American women navigating the traditions and expectations of their culture.
"An intriguing look at how families and young people cope with community and personal change. Readers may be surprised to find this multicultural story set in Portland, Oregon, but that just adds to its distinctive appeal. Here's hoping Watson's teen debut will be followed by many more." Kirkus Reviews
"Writing with the artfulness and insights of African American teen-lit pioneers Rita Williams-Garcia, Angela Johnson, and Jacqueline Woodson, Watson shows Maya exploring concerns rarely made this accessible... essential for all collections." Booklist (Starred Review)
"In This Side of Home, Renée Watsons loving, descriptive powers are in full force. Shes sharing a vibrant world so well, friends who make us care, crackling true voices and legacies, interweave of troubles, knowing a place, wanting it never to change except in good ways, holding on to friends, doorways, porches, rooms and rhythms, dont go, dont go, the tiny rich glories making it home. 'Sometimes you have to rewrite your own history,' she says, then she lets her people do it, reshaping . . . 'A cleansing is taking place' and its the world we live in and she gives it back to us so we understand the mystery a little better even if we cant solve it, even if nothing is ever quite fair. Theres more there, and she finds it." Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Habibi
About the Author
RENÉE WATSON is the author of two acclaimed picture books: Harlem's Little Blackbird and A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, which was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as an ABA New Voices Pick. She lives in New York City where she teaches writing in the public schools.