Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Other Half of My Heart

Kiera and Minni (Minerva) are twins although it would be hard to tell when you look at them. Their father is white and their mother is black - Kiera looks like her mother while Minerva is light complected with reddish hair - much like their father. The girls are best friends, and while they may attract attention because they don't look much like sisters let alone twins, Minni has only ever longed to look black so that she fits in with her mother and sister. The girls are sent away to spend a few weeks in the South with their grandmother, a woman they don't know very well, who has her own ideas about how her granddaughters should be raised. The two girls are entered into a program (although it seems very much like a pageant) where they showcase their talent. The program is only open to young African American ladies which draws attention to Minni who just doesn't look like she belongs. Minni is quickly made aware of what it feels like to be the only person who looks a certain way. She also becomes very aware of how their grandmother's treatment of her and her sister differs. It appears that Minni can do no wrong, while Kiera is constantly drawing their grandmother's criticism. The things that both girls must deal with make for some tense times between them as they must determine who they really are, and how their looks change how they are seen by others.

I read Frazier's first novel, Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything In It, a book dealing with a boy's desire to know his family and fit in, trying to decide if he was really black or white. Minni reminds me a bit of Brendan as she tries to navigate finding her own identity. Is she black? Is she white? How will she know? There is so much good discussion material in this story. Teachers would find much to talk about with their students, and readers would gain a greater understanding and appreciation for what impact skin color has on how people are treated. While this book deals a lot with race, it is also a great tween read. Friendship, family, learning about yourself, finding a way to stick up for what you believe in - all are themes in this book.

And, for those who dispute the idea that there really could be a set of twin that look so very different, there are several such cases that are documented.

I have thoroughly enjoyed both of Frazier's books and can't wait to see what else she will write.
Click here to visit Sundee Frazier's website.


Peaceful Reader said...

I have Brenden Buckley on my library shelf but haven't read it-now I'm inspired to do just that! Then I'll get to this newer one. Great review-thanks!

Peaceful Reader said...

Hey there Ms. Tina...I was blog surfing over lunch and noticed you won a book at CaribousMom! Go check it out...

Meg @ write meg! said...

I remember seeing a story on a UK couple who had twins -- one black, one white -- a few years back. Very fascinating, and this sounds like a great read! Stories about sisters are some of my favorites.