My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: October 24th, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Point of View: 1st Person & Girl
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Religion, Contemporary Romance
Taja Brown lives with her parents and older brother and younger sister, in Houston, Texas. Taja has always known what the expectations of her conservative and tightly-knit African American family are—do well in school, go to church every Sunday, no intimacy before marriage. But Taja is trying to keep up with friends as they get their first kisses, first boyfriends, first everythings. And she’s tired of cheering for her athletic younger sister and an older brother who has more freedom just because he’s a boy. Taja dreams of going to college and forging her own relationship with the world and with God, but when she falls in love for the first time, those dreams are suddenly in danger of evaporating.
Such an elegant book.
The cover is elegant, the writing is elegant, the atmosphere is whimsical and contemplative, the heroine is lovely, almost angelically so. Reading the whole story is just a pleasurable experience you won’t soon forget.
Liara Tamani has written here a very beautiful story about growing up amongst family members that do not always understand you. Although religion is important to Taja, unlike her parents, she feels the need to question some of her beliefs and explore things all teenagers do… dating, kissing, having sex.
I loved that we could see Taja grow from a middle grader to a high school student, but we never explicitly know how old she is, and sometimes the chapters jump past months of her life, not explaining everything.
So that takes getting used to, but when you do, it’s easy to fall in love with Taja and root for her to gain strength and find within herself the courage to stand up for what her heart tells her is right.
Unfortunately she can’t talk to her parents, because they’d give her a sermon. That’s something I actually didn’t like. I thought she should have had someone to talk with in all seriousness, not just to joke around. Her friends weren’t much help to ease her mind. It’s a journey she had to take upon herself practically alone. But it made her stronger and wiser.
Taja’s is an authentic teenage voice. Before I realized the book started with her as a middle grader, I found her voice too young, but as she gains life experience and discovers the joys of adolescence (yeah, right), she becomes more and more mature.
Not only is this a book with a diverse heroine readers can easily connect with, it’s also a book with diverse themes that matter in the life of a teenage girl. Quite recommended.