YA Discussion Guide

Best Users: Educators, Librarians, Community Groups, Book Clubs

Best Audience: Children Grades 07-12


Sometimes it feels like I leave home a whole person, sent off with kisses from Mom, who is hanging her every hope on my future. By the time I get home I feel like my soul has been shattered into a million pieces.
Mom’s love repairs me…
Listening to these mentors, I feel like I can prove the negative stereotypes about girls like me wrong. That I can and will do more, be more.
But when I leave? It happens again. The shattering.
And this makes me wonder if a black girl’s life is only about being stitched together and coming undone, being stitched together and coming undone. I wonder if there’s ever a way for a girl like me to feel whole.
Piecing Me Together

This guide seeks to explore how Jade in the acclaimed young adult novel Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury) is “shattered into a million pieces” and how she and her community stitch her back together each day. Jade asks, “I wonder if there’s ever a way for a girl like me to feel whole.”  That is a question readers should be asking about themselves and asking about their fellow students. This guide will explore identity, intersectionality, and the challenges and strengths of “piecing” oneself together.

Exploring identity and intersectionality means talking about class, race, and gender. Whatever your comfort level with those conversations, this guide offers preparation, sample dialogue, and book passages to guide that conversation. The guide also offers several “out of the box” teaching suggestions for hands-on engagement.


Piecing Me Together Guide (PDF)



Piecing Me Together
By Renee Watson
Published by Bloomsbury USA
ISBN-13: 9781681191058
Lexile: 680L
Age Range: 12 – 17 Years

A timely and powerful story about a teen girl striving for success in a world that too often feels like it wants to break her.

Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And she has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods. And just because Maxine, her college-graduate mentor, is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

“A thoughtful testament to the value of growth and of work, of speaking up and of listening, that will resonate with many readers engaged in ‘discovering what we are really capable of.'”
—starred review, BCCB
“Jade’s narrative voice offers compelling reflections on the complexities of race and gender, class and privilege, and fear and courage, while conveying the conflicted emotions of an ambitious, loyal girl. Teeming with compassion and insight, Watson’s story trumpets the power of artistic expression to re-envision and change the world.”
—starred review, Publishers Weekly
“Through Jade’s insightful and fresh narration, Watson presents a powerful story that challenges stereotypes about girls with ‘coal skin and hula-hoop hips’ who must contend with the realities of racial profiling and police brutality. . . . A timely, nuanced, and unforgettable story about the power of art, community, and friendship.”
—starred review, Kirkus Reviews

“This unique and thought-provoking title offers a nuanced meditation on race, privilege, and intersectionality.”
—starred review, School Library Journal
“Watson’s story explores a number of important ideas: the challenges and rewards of interracial friendships, the realities of racial stereotyping, and the expression of ideas and emotions through art . . . Jade’s is an important voice.”
“A balancing act between class, race, and social dynamics, with Watson constantly undercutting stereotypes and showing no fear in portraying virtues along with vices. The book’s defiance of a single-issue lens will surely inspire discussion and consideration.”
“Questions of race, self-acceptance, and self-worth are the focus of this book and will give young women a chance to realize that they are worthwhile just being themselves..all students…would benefit from reading this book.”
—School Library Connection

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