Wednesday, August 5, 2015

This Side of Home by Renee Watson - ADVISIBLE

Watson, Renee This Side of Home, 336 pgs. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2015. $17.99. Language: 5 swears (single use of the “n” word); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

Twin sisters Maya and Nikki are best friends and thought they had their entire futures mapped out when big changes start to occur in their neighborhood. Houses are being repaired and renovated, new people are moving in, and fancy businesses are setting up shop. This is great news, or is it? Nikki could not be happier with what is happening while Maya finds herself upset and wondering what is being lost in the pursuit of improvement. The sisters will be forced to confront their own prejudices and feelings about culture and community and what it means to their relationship.

The subject of this novel is an important one that young readers will benefit from understanding. Many young adults are unaware of, or misunderstand, what gentrification is and how it may seem like a good idea, but is actually fraught with negative consequences. For such an important topic, it is unfortunate that this book was not written better. The author continually decries the numerous stereotypes that are heaped on African Americans while writing the white characters as one dimensional people who embody nothing but stereotypical behavior. The characters in the book also fall victim to the clichéd habit of YA novels in which the teens have all the understanding and answers while the adults are clueless or persistent disappointments. 


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