(Review) This Side of Home

This Side of Home by Renee Watson
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Pages: 336 (paperback) 
Genre: Young Adult 
My Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Maya Younger and her identical twin sister, Nikki, have always agreed on the important things. Friends. Boys. School. They even plan to attend the same historically African American college.
But nothing can always remain the same.

As their Portland neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, Maya feels her connection to Nikki and their community slipping away. Nikki spends more time at trendy coffee shops than backyard barbecues, and their new high school principal is more committed to erasing the neighborhood's "ghetto" reputation than honoring its history. Home doesn't feel like home anymore. As Maya struggles to hold on to her black heritage, she begins to wonder with whom--or where--she belongs. Does growing up have to mean growing apart?

In a captivating coming-of-age story, Renée Watson explores the experiences, transitions, and cultural expectations of young African Americans in a changing world.
My Review: 
I picked this book on a whim at my school book fair. It was under three dollars (I'm trying to keep track of books I buy this year), so I went for it.

This story follows Maya, a senior in a Portland high school on a personal journey through her senior year. Things around Maya are changing. Her best friend moves away, a new family moves into the vacated house. A new principal is stirring up trouble at their school. Her twin sister has found a new best friend and, to top it all off, her sister and bet friend are changing their college plans without her.

Maya is a great character. She's strong and absolutely stands up for what she believes in...just as she should. As a young African-American girl Maya knows that she has a lot to overcome and prove. And I think that this book does an excellent job of showcasing the struggles that not only teenagers, but diverse teenagers have to go through.

This book deals with prejudice and race very well. Maya is unapologetic, but she's also very caring. She knows what's right and what's wrong and wants to share her knowledge with those around her. She is often teased and ridiculed by others at her school, but she never backs down from what she wants or believes in. Not even when it means getting in trouble or having people mad at her.

I loved that there wasn't any ridiculous drama in this book. There wasn't a messy breakup or fight to be miraculously fixed in the next five chapters. Everything about this book was real and important. Yes, there was a relationship between Maya and Tony (her new white neighbor), but that wasn't the whole story. The whole story was about Maya figuring out who was is in the world, in her school, and in her changing town, and it's beautiful.



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