"Who owns the river and the line, and the hook, and the worm?" wonders Jade, a scholarship kid at Portland's prestigious St. Francis High. Through her first two years of school, she's had to balance her home life in a poor neighborhood with her life at a school populated mostly by rich white kids. When offered a mentorship for at-risk girls (which includes a full college scholarship), she jumps at the opportunity to learn how to be a successful black woman. However, she soon suspects that her mentor, Maxine, may only have a superficial understanding of Jade's challenges and that there may be things Jade can teach her. Watson is unafraid to show Jade as a young woman who is resilient and mature for her age, but also plagued by self-doubt. The book itself is a balancing act between class, race, and social dynamics, with Watson constantly undercutting stereotypes and showing no fear in portraying virtues along with vices. The book's defiance of a single-issue lens will surely inspire discussion and consideration. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Jade Butler, an African-American artist-in-the-making, lives with her mother in Portland, Ore., and travels by bus to private school, where she is both grateful for and resentful of the opportunities presented to her. In short, poetic chapters, Jade ponders her family, school, and neighborhood relationships, wondering where she fits in: "How I am someone's answered prayer but also someone's deferred dream." Watson (This Side of Home) weaves collage imagery throughout the story as Jade ruminates over historical figures such as York, the slave who traveled with Lewis and Clark, and distressing current events, including police violence against a neighborhood girl: "I am ripping and cutting. Gluing and pasting. Rearranging reality, redefining, covering, disguising. Tonight I am taking ugly and making beautiful." Jade's narrative voice offers compelling reflections on the complexities of race and gender, class and privilege, and fear and courage, while conveying the conflicted emotions of an ambitious, loyal girl. Teeming with compassion and insight, Watson's story trumpets the power of artistic expression to re-envision and change the world. Ages 12–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 7 Up—High school junior Jade is an "at-risk" student from a rough neighborhood in Portland, OR. She is also a talented collage artist, and she attends an elite private school on scholarship. More than anything, she wants to go on a study abroad week offered at her school to use her Spanish skills. Instead, she is given an invitation to join Woman to Woman, a mentorship program for young women like her: poor and black. Her mentor, Maxine, is from a more privileged background, and Jade doesn't see what she can learn from her. But in spite of her early resistance to Maxine, Jade begins to open up and gain confidence, and, eventually, she is able to express the importance of her family, her community, and her art. The two strong female characters and the ways in which they struggle with and support each other form the center of this tale. Most young people will relate to Jade's search to find her voice and learn to advocate for herself in appropriate ways. The lack of a romantic lead may leave some young teen readers disappointed, but there is a real, refreshing strength in a fully fleshed-out female character whose story is her own. This is a memorable novel that demonstrates that a happy ending doesn't require a romantic subplot. VERDICT This unique and thought-provoking title offers a nuanced meditation on race, privilege, and intersectionality. A first purchase for YA collections.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
Copyright 2016 School Library Journal.
Tired of being singled out at her mostly-white private school as someone who needs support, high school junior Jade would rather participate in the school's amazing Study Abroad program than join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls. - (Baker & Taylor)
A timely and powerful story about a teen girl striving for success in a world that too often seems like it's trying to break her. - (McMillan Palgrave)
Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner
New York Times bestseller
"Timely and timeless." --Jacqueline Woodson
"Important and deeply moving." --John Green
Acclaimed author Renee Watson offers a powerful story about a girl striving for success in a world that too often seems like it's trying to break her.
Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she's ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn't really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for "at-risk" girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn't mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She's tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.
NPR’s Best Books of 2017
A 2017 New York Public Library Best Teen Book of the Year
Chicago Public Library’s Best Books of 2017
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2017
Kirkus Reviews’ Best Teen Books of 2017
2018 Josette Frank Award Winner
- (McMillan Palgrave