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.
- Renée Watson website
- Growing up black in the whitest city in America. An article on Salon by Mitchell S. Jackson, author of The Residue Years.
- Brown in Portlandia by Alberto Morena, with some commentary on gentrification in the part of town where This Side of Home is set.
- Things Ain’t What They Used To Be: Losing Albina.