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One School, One Story 2021: Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Rebecca Woolfrey
Grier Library and Beyond the Bubble invites everyone at Grier to come join us in reading and discussing the 2021 One School, One Story selection: Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.  

The story’s lead character, Jade is an 11th grade student and talented mixed media artist attending an elite private school on scholarship. While it means taking a long bus ride to and from her lower-class neighborhood every day and constantly feeling like an outsider as one of the few African Americans attending the school, ambitious Jade won’t turn down a chance at success.  
Jade has taken part in several programs recommended by her counselor over the years, but, most of all, she wants her Spanish teacher’s recommendation to a volunteering trip in Costa Rica, so she her hopes are up when the counselor calls her to the office. Instead, the counselor encourages Jade to participate in a mentorship program that pairs successful women with “at risk” high school students in return for a college scholarship.  Loyal to her loving parents, she doesn’t appreciate being labeled as “at risk,” but Jade reluctantly agrees to participate. What's more, Jade’s assigned mentor Maxine seems to be the worst – routinely late and distracted by her off-again-on-again boyfriend. Maxine’s affluent and cultured lifestyle is intriguing, but Jade is skeptical that she can learn anything from Maxine other than how to be “less black.”  

Meanwhile, Jade befriends a white girl named Sam who also rides the bus to attend the same private school. While the two share much in common, they experience the world in very different ways because of their skin color. Can their friendship survive serious misunderstandings?  

Throughout the story, Jade expresses herself through her mixed media artwork through which she re-envisions the world. While reflecting on violence and injustice, past and present, Jade narrates, “I am ripping and cutting. Gluing and pasting. Rearranging reality, redefining, covering, disguising. Tonight I am taking ugly and making beautiful.”  
Grier Library’s One School, One Story program challenges anybody and everybody that is part of the Grier community to read the same book as a shared experience. This year, the library has partnered with Grier’s own Beyond the Bubble club and the group is planning events for next semester that include a fun collaborative collage artwork, book discussions, and more! 

Copies of the book are available for free from the library in multiple formats. Students, faculty, and staff can borrow print copies of the book, read a digital copy of the book, or listen to the digital ebook.  

The upcoming Winter Break would be a great opportunity to read this book, which beloved author Jacqueline Woodson touts and “Timely and timeless.” Grier readers will root for Jade as she finds the courage to be herself, discover her allies, and speak up amid the conflict and intersections of race, gender, class, and privilege.  

If the endorsement of Grier Library, Beyond the Bubble, and Mrs. Borst does not convince you to give this book a read or a listen, check out the long list of awards, endorsements, and accolades Piecing Me Together has received, which includes: 

  • Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner 
  • Newbery Honor 
  • Josette Frank Award Winner (2018) 
  • New York Times Bestseller 
  • NPRs Best Books of 2017 
  • New York Public Library Best Teen Book of the Year (2017) 
  • Chicago Public Library’s Best Books of 2017 
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of 2017 
  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Teen Books of 2017 
Listen up for announcements early second semester for activities and events designed to bring the Grier community together for our One School, One Read. Please, come join us in reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.  
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Grier School

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