Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Review: The Other Half of My Heart

by Sundee T. Frazier. Delacorte Press, 2010. (Library copy). Minni and Keira are eleven years old twins. They are biracial, with a Black mom and white dad. Minni is lighter skinned and looks like dad, while Keira is darker and looks more like mom. Everywhere they go people remark over them and wonder how they could be born of the same parents, since they look so completely different. Minni and Keira are very close friends as well as sisters, and the reactions to their appearence causes some tension as they get older.

Their Black grandmother invites them down south to North Carolina for the summer to compete in the Miss Black Pearl Preteen beauty pagent. Keira is delighted with the idea (she loves to shine on stage) but Minni feels shy and awkward and would rather skip the whole thing. Her first loyalty is to her sister however, so she tries her best to play along. It is really interesting to read her point of view as she becomes involved in the social scene and worries about whether she will be accepted as Black enough to even participate. Her mother assures her "there are many ways to be Black" and by the end of the story she has seen that lived out in her grandmother Johnson and her community. At times the girls feel discriminated against and even wonder about their grandmother's different treatment of them based on her life experience. There are many questions as the story develops that pull readers in and invite speculation about why characters react the way they do.

You can read about the backstory and how Sundee, a biracial beauty pageant runner up herself, has experienced similar situations at her website. There is also an excerpt from the book to get you hooked. I think this would be a fascinating read aloud with fifth or sixth graders. I'd love to hear their reactions and discussions as the book progresses.

The book has been nominated for a Mock Coretta Scott King
Interview with the author here.
Review at Semicolon here.
Tina Says blog has a review here.
 You can read more reviews at  goodreads.com.

If you've read the book please leave a comment about how you found it. I've never been in a beauty pageant. Did is seem real to you? Have you experienced something similar?

2 comments:

winner said...

I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^

Ms. Yingling said...

I've been following this author ever since Brendan Buckley, so must have found it there. No idea about the beauty pageant, but it was a good book.