My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First Published: February 14th, 2017
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Art, High School, Race, Friendship, Coming of Age
Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods. But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.
Unlike the majority of teenagers, Jade knows what she wants.
She knows that she wants to escape her poor neighbourhood, go to a great college on a scholarship, and eventually buy her mama the house she isn’t able to afford on her own.
Yes, she goes to an almost-all-white private school, but she is constantly reminded of where she comes from—and right now, she’s not sure that’s a good thing.
Fortunately, the program she recently joined, called Woman to Woman, will help her figure out who she is as a young woman and an aspiring artist. Her voice is strong, if only she could learn to use it…
This is a slow and honest exploration of what it means to be an African American teenager caught between two worlds. Race, discrimination, and police brutality are discussed and often shown. I couldn’t believe the cluelessness of Jade’s new white friend.
Except, I could, of course. I simply did not want to yet again be faced with a character who doesn’t understand that racism exists and that if it isn’t taken seriously, it will keep on breathing.
And you know what racism enjoys feeding on, don’t you? The hope that minority groups have of living a peaceful life with equal opportunities and a right to appreciate all that the world has to offer, like white people can.
It is not perfect: 1. Jade’s voice is young, even for a junior in high school, 2. the story is calm and, at times, uneventful and 3. the conflict between Jade and her friend was resolved unrealistically fast.
But: 1. There is no romance, 2. despite being slow, it reads very well, with chapters that are sometimes not even one-page-long and 3. Jade’s mentor, Maxine, is a character that grows on you (not Jade, her you’ll love instantly).
Still having doubts? Did I not mention that there is absolutely no romance whatsoever? That’s because not all young women think about boys non-stop. Take note.
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