January 14, 2015
Review: This Side of Home
This Side of Home by Renee Watson
Release date: February 3rd, 2015
This ARC was provided by Bloomsbury USA Childrens in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I'm not going to pretend to relate to most of the issues Maya, Nikki, and most of the characters face in This Side of Home. Sure, I understand the pre-college struggle and growing up and what-not, but I didn't grow up in a community like theirs. However, I found their community and school to be incredibly realistic, and I liked that. There were some stereotypes and cliches, but of course some are true (just not as often as people think they are). I don't entirely have the words to react to this book but let me say that it seemed to address racism in the present day well. There's nothing overly reminiscent of Ferguson or the Eric Garner incident; This Side of Home addresses everyday racism more. I enjoyed learning several new names, people who fought for civil rights in remarkable ways. I also appreciated how everything didn't end happily.
My main criticism is that Maya's voice sometimes sounded more like 14 than 17. The majority of the chapters were short, which added to the younger feel. Also time jumps were large and didn't always make sense. I'm not sure that I have much else to say. This was a delightful read that I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed.
Language is mild. There is one use of the n-word, but only to emphasize a point. It isn't gratuitous. Romance is clean, as is violence.
The Verdict: Definitely a worthwhile read. A bit more literary than some YA, but I liked that.