Thursday, July 22, 2010

Finding My Place (MG/YA)


Finding My Place. Traci L. Jones. 2010. May 2010. FSG. 192 pages.

For most people, the big news during the fall of 1975 was the second assassination attempt on President Ford. Not for me. For me, that October was the month my father, Morris Ray Baker, and my mother, Annie Louise Baker, decided to completely ruin my life. Oh, they claimed it was not only a good move for our family, but a step forward for our race as a whole. My parents were big on doing their part to uplift the race, which meant I was expected to do my part as well.

Tiphanie, our narrator, is convinced that this move to a new neighborhood, a new school, is bad news. She'll be starting a new school where she'll be one of two black students--Bradley being the other. Tiphanie is unsure of it all. Are people staring at her because she's new? Or are they staring because she's black? Are people ignoring her because that's just the way they are? Would any new student get the same treatment? Or are her classmates racist? She doesn't want to overreact. But she can't help wishing that they'd been a warmer welcome. More people smiling, more people talking to her, asking her to be a part of their group.

Not everyone is shy. Jackie Sue is anything but shy. Some might argue she's a bit too blunt. (She tells Tiphanie her name is spelled wrong, and that none of the white guys at their school would be brave enough to date her. Even if they wanted to, they'd be too afraid of what others would think.) But Jackie Sue and Tiphanie are soon good friends. But not everyone is happy about this friendship. Clay, for example, is openly hostile. He doesn't want Jackie Sue talking to Tiphanie. And he certainly doesn't want Jackie inviting Tiphanie back to her trailer home. Tiphanie's parents aren't thrilled by the friendship either. They think their daughter could do better. Jackie Sue's mom, well, she leaves much to be desired. So while they wouldn't ever forbid Tiphanie from being friends with her, they take every opportunity to encourage Tiphanie to make other friends. Tiphanie's parents have definite opinions--on who they want their daughter to be, what they expect from her, who she should be friends with, etc.

Tiphanie is trying to discover who she is exactly. Trying to balance what she wants with what her parents' want. I liked this one. It's a universal story in many ways.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
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I am not a fan of:

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  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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