This Side of Home

This Side of Home by Renée Watson

Recommend this book to readers of contemporary teen fiction who love straightforward prose. Readers looking for stories of teens making a difference in their communities will find an engaging heroine here.

Diverse content: The protagonist is a Black teen struggling with the community displacement afflicting her “gentrifying” neighborhood. A pervasive, centuries-old problem is brought into focus. The protagonist’s best friend is economically displaced by the gentrification in a historically Black neighborhood.

Study this for how it lets the characters directly address social issues. I appreciate the fact that the author let us hear the main character’s thoughts about her neighborhood and the changes; sometimes authors don’t go there, perhaps out of fear that it would be “preachy” or didactic if a character discusses their opinion on a political or social issue. But here is an example of how to do this. I love these teens engaged with analyzing and critiquing the city they live in. It felt authentic.

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