Friday, 28 December 2018

Review Time! - Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson





Piecing Me Together title image with multi-coloured jigsaw-piece background



Author: Renée Watson

Genre: Young Adult (with New Adult crossover appeal,) Contemporary Fiction

Amazon: UK - USA







A Few Starting Notes:





I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. This is a fair and honest review.




This is where I once again point out that I’m a) Welsh and b) White. 

So my perspective of Black American life is obviously limited.

This book is like the forgotten sister of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – it covers a lot of the same ground, and was released in the US in 2017 (2018 here in the good ol’ UK.)

But it’s also a very different book to THUG, and is in no way a lesser take on the topics it handles.

This book is also Black American #OwnVoices.





The Premise:


Jade lives and grew up in a poor neighbourhood, where most of her neighbours are also Black people, and feels kinda out of place in her prestigious (and predominantly White) private school.

When she’s passed over for an opportunity she’s earned, and, seemingly instead of this opportunity, given a place on a scheme for under-privileged Black girls, Woman to Woman, she’s understandably pi**ed.

Add in a confusing friendship with a White girl who doesn’t seem to get the challenges Jade faces because of her race, and local police brutality against Black teenagers, and Jade’s really starting to feel out of place… well, everywhere.






The Best Bits:



This book is amazing.

The characters are so strong – both in the sense of their vividness, and generally as people.

Jade herself is complex and relatable.

Her frustrations as she battles to find her place in the world, and battles against the discrimination she faces, shines through the writing in a way that makes you honestly feel for her (and also wanna slap a few people on her behalf.)



dividing line


But that doesn’t mean that the side-characters are one-dimensional – they’re not.

All of them seem to have a sense of being their own person, with their own motivations.

And, what is maybe unusual for YA, we also get complex adult characters, including Jade’s mentor on the Woman to Woman programme, Maxine.

Maxine is, in so many ways, just as lost as Jade – she just doesn’t think that she is.


dividing line


The interactions between Jade and Maxine provide not only a medium for both characters to learn and grow as people, but also opportunity for the author to explore other themes.

Maxine’s family is considerably better-off, financially, than Jade’s, and that brings in a tonne of tricksy questions about the intersections and divisions of race and poverty and/or social class.

Elements of this book also reminded me a lot of Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera – a New Adult novel that deals with intersectional identities, and coming to terms with how the world sees you.


dividing line

Piecing Me Together weaves these strands together with awesome skill and maturity, while still not losing a tone that (in my humble, admittedly non-teenage, opinion,) is still bang-on for its YA audience.






Not So Great Bits:




This book isn’t for fans of quick, action-packed, plots. This is character-driven.

That’s obviously not a bad thing in and of itself, but a lot of people don’t get on with books which are more character-driven, and I get that.

(If you do decide to take the plunge though, it is an awesome book.)

dividing line


It’s also not a fast read – I think maybe because there’s so much hard subject matter and layers here, that you have some stuff to think about!

With it being a YA and everything, the fact that it is quite a slow read (I’m a fast reader and it took me a while,) is probably worth noting.

Also, maybe not one for when you’re tired and looking for something light!

Content Warnings:




This book does deal with some difficult topics, so be careful dearest nerdlets!

- racism
- systemic racism
- police brutality against black teenagers
- poverty
- elitism
- body-shaming
- low self-esteem/self-worth
- body image issues
- victim-blaming and gaslighting






#OwnVoices Views:



Check out this #OwnVoices review @ The Black Lit Queen.

Let me know if you’ve written an #OwnVoices review you’d like me to link to!







The Verdict:



This is one of those eye-opening books that everyone should read if they get the chance. 

It’s also far too underrated – let’s change that, shall we? 😉






















Do you think there's room in YA for complex, character-driven books?
Do you think that sometimes books can be over-shadowed by other books dealing with similar topics?
Talk to me! 😊💬







You can follow me on Twitter @CeeDoraReads, on Dora Reads @ BlogLovin, and on Google+. For more ways to support me, check out the Support Me page



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Last updated: 17th Jan 2019

8 comments:

  1. I’ve heard of this book but haven’t really paid much attention to it. I’m glad you loved it, Cee! It definitely is on my radar now.

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  2. I cannot WAIT to read this. I have heard so many rave reviews of this book, and of this author in general. I don't know why I haven't read anything by her before! This sounds wonderful in so many ways.

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  3. This book sounds like it's worthy of reading even though it seems slow. I'll add it to my TBR.

    Happy reading!
    Dinh@Arlene's Book Club

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  4. I don't think I've heard anything about this one before so thank you for the shoutout. I love character-driven stories so this is one I should look into more. Sounds like it's pretty deep, especially if it's intended for a YA audience.

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    Replies
    1. It's awesome! I hope you look out for it! :)

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Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!