Summary: Some Places More Than Others
Some Places More Than Others has been on my TBR since the second I heard about it. It felt a bit like a dream come true to see that Kindle pre-order come through!
Eleven-year-old Amara lives in Oregon with her parents. Her dad works for Nike which scores her literally everything from their collection as soon as it drops. Her mom designs clothes for her boutique store — and she’s expecting a second child after multiple miscarriages.
But Amara’s nervous about welcoming a new baby. She’s also dying to visit Harlem, New York where her dad is from. Unfortunately, neither of her parents are particularly thrilled about her desire. Amara’s desire to go is heightened when she discovers that her father hasn’t spoken to his father since the day she was born — and her grandmother died.
But when a school assignment requires that she share family relics, stories, and basically where she comes from, her parents allow her to visit with her dad.
Where do I even begin? First, there’s Renée Watson’s writing: simple, yet so poignant. I loved being in Amara’s head. She’s such a SWEET, thoughtful child. I wish I was like her at her age. Her friendship with Titus is innocent, yet solid and fuss-free. Literally, NO DRAMA.
A major part of this novel is Amara’s father’s relationship with his dad, Earl. There’s a lot of troubled water under their bridge and both men really have to work through their past missteps. It broke my heart to see that it’d taken so long to fix things between them. Yet, there’s still so much love and warmth in their family.
I also enjoyed Nina and Ava’s characters — Amara’s cousins — which reminded me of Nikki and Maya in This Side of Home. Some Places More Than Others is peppered with Black history, good food, and an immersive tour of New York — from the Apollo to the rodents in the subway stations. I loved every single word.
One more thing I loved? Amara is a chubby twelve-year-old who loves wearing jeans, T-shirts and Nikes — and nobody gave the child a makeover, thank goodness. There’s also no mention of her weight or eating habits — nothing — which I adored. AH, one more thing: this book has a balanced representation of the lives of Black families. While Nina and Ava’s dad is in jail, Amara’s dad is pretty well-off financially.
Overall: Some Places More Than Others
I ADORED THIS BOOK. I shamelessly confess to tearing up many times in the second half and yearning to know my own family’s history as Amara learned hers. The need for that connection is summed up in this quote:
I want to feel like that. Like I am connected to something, like there’s a history keeping me moving, living. Like the journey I am on has many footprints, many stories coming with me.Watson, Renée (2019-09-03). Some Places More Than Others (pp. 103-104). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Renée Watson’s Some Places More Than Others is a quiet, immersive, and resonant novel that encourages us to listen to more stories about our families. This novel inspires forgiveness, a yearning for our history, and the need to maintain family (and chosen family) bonds. Most importantly, Watson’s recent release is a love letter to the city of New York!
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Have you read this book or anything by Renée Watson? What did you think? Looking for more Black middle-grade books? You’ll enjoy this list of 30 Black middle-grade books.