Piecing Me Together, by Renée Watson
From my old column at Kirkus:
Yes, she appreciates the opportunities that have been offered up. Yes, she knows that not everyone gets them. And yes, she knows that walking away from those opportunities would be cutting off her nose to spite her face. But, still… she’s tired of feeling like a charity case. She wants people to look at her and appreciate how hard she works and how smart she is, what a talented and skilled artist she is and has become, how curious and passionate and driven she is… but she feels that, most of the time, people just look at her and see Poor Black Girl. She’s tired of the well-meaning—usually white, but not always—adults in her life who look at her as Someone To Help, and not Someone With Something To Give.
I just read this one yesterday, and if it’s not on your radar yet, put it there, and STAT. It’s beautifully written, the character work is stellar, the sense of place is outstanding. It’s rich and layered and deals so, so well with friendship and family and working poverty and unfairness and race and art and expectations and code-switching and shame and pride and and and… IT’S JUST PHENOMENAL. Seriously, order it today. Like, right now.