“Piecing Me Together” by Renee Watson is a relatable story of a Black teen girl so focused on what she wants but doesn’t realize what she has can still get her to where she wants to be.
Jade is a high school junior/multimedia artist who attends a private school in Portland, nowhere near her impoverished neighborhood, so she makes a few bus transfers each way to get the best education. But she doesn’t have any friends at her school until she meets Sam, a white girl, who lives in a neighborhood near her. Now Jade’s mom can get off her back about making friends since she still is close with her childhood friend, Lee Lee, who attends the neighborhood school. Regardless of her socioeconomic status, Jade, gifted in Spanish, wants to go on a field trip to Costa Rica. But students have to be nominated, so when she gets called into the counselor’s office she thinks she’s got a nomination but instead she’s got into a mentoring program for Black teen girls. Jade is not entirely sold on the opportunity but attends the program’s first meeting, only to be stood up by her mentor, Maxine. It turns out Maxine, a Black 20-something professional who graduated from the school, can barely commit to the program with boyfriend drama. Jade picks up on this and takes their relationship with a grain of salt until they become closer the more they spend time together. As she visits museums in Portland, Jade is looking forward to hearing back on the Costa Rica opportunity, but she learns some opportunities won’t be given to her because of who she is but other opportunities will come her way because of that.
This story is a good read with smoothly showing Jade gain her voice when she feels it doesn’t matter because she’s Black, poor, and obese. She sees how not speaking up affects her relationships with one example of Jade and Sam having a temporary falling-out because Jade feels she’s not being heard when she isn’t saying exactly how she feels. It also shows the trauma of a Black girl being in a predominantly white school and how she becomes invisible despite her hard work. Jade sees there are other ways she can succeed, and once she sees that, the law of attraction will lead her to what she really wants.