Author: Renée Watson
Publication date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: ARC from publisher via Netgalley (Thank you, Bloomsbury!)
Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything—friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.
In her inspired YA debut, Renée Watson explores the experience of young African-American women navigating the traditions and expectations of their culture.
*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads
This Side of Home explores the issue about race in a plausible, inspiring way, leaving a mark on readers that will never be erased. It teaches them to embrace their roots, be proud of who they are, and at the same time, welcome change. Amazing characters would definitely stimulate readers to contemplate on how they view themselves and the world around them.
Maya, the protagonist, is a strong-willed individual. Her compelling voice brought out her smart and fearless personality that bounces off on every page. Maya’s great passion for her ethnicity is highly notable! But it was when she opened herself to change that I appreciated her more. At first, Maya was not in favor of the changes happening in their community. Nevertheless, she adapted to it eventually when she fell in love and became friends with people who are not of the same ethnicity. Moreover, the supporting characters added depth to the story that leaves valuable insights to readers. One of the elements that grabbed my attention was the romance. The feelings that blossomed between Maya and Tony are so natural, effecting to a slow, authentic transition from friends to boyfriend-girlfriend status.
Change helps us grow as a person. I love how This Side of Home shows Maya’s evolution—how she embraced diversity, how she accepted the people around her regardless of race. We are people of the world whose uniqueness makes it an extraordinary place. No matter what color or race we belong to, we are all significant in this world.
The story is beautiful. Important. I couldn’t stress this enough through words because you have to experience it for yourself. All I can say is it has to be read. Author Renée Watson is a remarkable writer. Her words breathe exceptional creativity, spreading brilliance all throughout the book.
A debut novel that speaks to the heart, This Side of Home opens our eyes to the beauty of diverse cultures and the wonderful possibilities that change brings.