Review Blog

Dec 13 2019

Some places more than others by Renee Watson

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Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781526613684.
(Ages 8-12). Highly recommended. Themes: Family relationships, Fathers, Daughters, African American people, New York city. New York city can be a wonderful, busy place and for Amara it's the only place she wants to be for her twelfth birthday. She is eager to go with her father to Harlem to meet his estranged father and his other family and get to know the place where her father grew up. Feeling a little unsettled by the fact that her mother is finally having another child and questioning her strange relationship with her mother, Amara feels she will understand so much more about herself and her family if she can get to know more about their history in New York. Her father makes it clear that this is a work trip for him, and Amara finds it hard to accept that this is the reason he is avoiding her Grandpa Earl so much when they get there. Amara puts herself in danger in a large confusing city as she acts out when she gets frustrated with her cousins' attitude towards her and the fact that her father doesn't seem to want to spend any time with her in New York.
The trip for Amara is enlightening in lots of ways as she learns more about her father's childhood and how Grandpa Earl now realizes the mistakes he made when his son was a boy and is trying to make amends. Her grandpa tells her things about her father that bring them closer together and ultimately heals the rifts that seemed so insurmountable at the beginning of her journey. She also has a school history project to complete. The author includes information about the Suitcase Project that Amara's teacher sets them which is designed to get the children to research more about their families. It provides the perfect vehicle for Amara to fulfill her mother's wishes to get her father and Grandpa talking and the information included at the end of the book will provide classroom teachers with a great resource to use after reading this book.
This is a touching, thought provoking story with well-drawn, engaging characters that will make a big impact on the reader. It is about how exploring the places from our past can help us understand who we are and how our family effects our lives.
Gabrielle Anderson

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