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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Finding My Place by Traci L. Jones

Title: Finding My Place
Author: Traci L. Jones
ISBN: 9780374335731
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Page #: 181
Source: From my public library

"For most people, 1975 was the year that bell-bottoms were in, Happy Days was the very best show on TV, and shag carpeting was the ultimate interior decoration. For Tiphanie Jayne Baker, however, it's the year her parents decide to uproot her from her life in Denver and move to the ritzy suburb of Brent Hills, Colorado. The only Black girl at a high school full of Barbies, Tiphanie suddenly feels like she has to be better than her peers just to be equal. Ninth grade has never been so unbearable.

That is, until Tiphanie meets Jackie Sue Webster. Jackie Sue may be blond, but she's definitely not a Barbie. She spouts out crazy vocabulary words like anomaly and imbroglio, and announces that she's walking trailer trash as grandly as if she were declaring she was descended from Queen Elizabeth. So what if Jackie Sue has some secrets? Now that Tiphanie has finally found a real friend, life at Brent Hills High suddenly seems like it might be bearable - possibly even enjoyable. But as Tiphanie begins to feel more comfortable in her new home, her ties to her old community start to fray, and she can't help but wonder - does fitting in have to mean selling out?"
First Lines:

"Your mother and I know switching schools is hard, Tiphanie, but we're sure you'll excel like you always have. At your old school you did well, and we are proud of you, but you can't simply do well at your new school. You must do superbly."
Page 3

I don't think I've ever read a book set in the 1970s. It may just be because of a lack in that time period. It took me a little while to get the setting right in my head - There are parts of that era that are hard for me to imagine easily.

This is the story of a girl who has to switch schools because of her parents' jobs. The kicker is that she's a black girl who is moving into a predominately white neighborhood during a time when people were just starting to accept each other. This is a quick little book that just gives you a taste of what life might have been like.

Being the new girl in school is one thing, but realizing that everyone (even the teachers) may be against your from the get go? That's an insane thought, but it was a reality at one point. And it amazes me to think about the close-mindedness of that time. I get a little upset sometimes when I realize how people used to treat each other just because of their skin color. But then I have to remember how far this country has come - I live in the most diverse county in the country and I can't image my days without all the people working together.

This book is also a great story about friendship - and not caring what circumstances your friends come from. Jackie Sue is a great character who has a hard time with her home life. Things that we don't even realize until halfway through the book. It's great to watch Tiphanie stand by her throughout - even with her parents trying to push them apart.

I think many people will love this story - including adults. And I think it can reach as low as 6th grade, probably. There may need to be explanation about racism and such to younger readers, but otherwise is good for everyone. And I think it teaches great lessons about friendship and how people can help each other.

Definitely give this one a try. I'll be recommending it at work, for sure. Check out the author's website for more books and information about her.
Other Blog Reviews:

Bookish Blather
The Fourth Musketeer

1 comment:

MissA said...

I haven't read many books set in the 1970s. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is the YA novel, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood. It's phenomenal!

Anyway, I really like this cover (that's what first atrracted it to me) and I like that it is set in the '70s. It's funny/sad at how so many Black parents (even now) tell us kids that we must excel at our schools and really push ourselvs. I also look forward to issues of class and race together being discussed.

Lovely review :)

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