THIS SIDE OF HOME by Renée Watson is an inspiring YA novel following a young woman facing the timely issues of racial, ethnic, cultural, and community identify.
Her neighborhood is changing and Maya is concerned about the impact this evolution will have on her school and community. The Portland, Oregon setting is perfect for a discussion of changing neighbors and reflects the urban renewal pressures facing many American cities.
Watson brings the difficult topics of race and community alive through authentic, teen characters. The book is successful as both a coming-of-age story as well as an examination of larger, contemporary issues.
Watson’s debut YA novel deserves to be considered for the Coretta Scott King Book Award. However, this isn’t a “black” book or “white” book, it’s an powerful work about changing America. Librarians will welcome this emerging author with a strong multicultural voice.
For librarians participating in We Need Diverse Books campaign events at http://weneeddiversebooks.org/, I strongly recommend adding this work to your list.
To learn more about Renée Watson, go to http://www.reneewatson.net.
Published by Bloomsbury February 3, 2015. Publisher ARC used for review.