Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Finding My Place by Traci Jones






4 Stars - great book which emphasizes that life is not always "black and white"


 Tiphanie knew she should be happy.  When her dad got a big work promotion, Tiphanie's family moved into a fancy new house in the suburbs.  New home, new school, new life. ... Tiphanie's parents reminded her to represent the African-American race - show the nearly all-white high school she would be attending and their new well-to-do community her family and race's sense of integrity, intelligence, and pride. 


     Tiphanie wanted to make her parents proud.  When she attends school the next day, though, Tiphanie discovers she is only one of two African-American students, and in 1975, many students and even teachers still resented school desegregation.  It was made clear to Tiph she wasn't wanted there.  Not only was Tiphanie ignored, a school bully targets her, calling her racist names and tripping her in the hallway.


Tiphanie feels like an outcast - until she meets Jackie Sue, that is.  Jackie Sue lives on the other side of the tracks, calling herself walking talking trailer trash.  To Tiphanie's surprise, though, Jackie Sue is fun to be around, smart and sweet - eventually becoming Tiphanie's new best friend.  They are inseparable.


     Things begin to get better for Tiphanie when she starts talking to other students, realizes they aren't all racist, and feels more accepted at school.  She even meets a cute white guy who seems to like her.  All of Tiph's problems don't go away, though.  The blockhead bully at school, Clay, still won't leave her alone.  He even bullies other students when they talk to Tiphanie - especially Jackie Sue.  She's supposed to be Tiphanie's BFF, but Jackie Sue won't even stand up to Clay when he harasses Tiphanie.  What kind of hold does Clay on Jackie Sue and why?


Tiphanie wants to know Jackie Sue's family, just as Jackie Sue begins to get closer to hers.  Jackie Sue seems secretive, though, and doesn't want Tiph to know the truth about her life.....the horrible home life she really had and had kept hidden from everyone.


In the end, Tiphanie learns that life is difficult for everyone  - no matter their skin color.  She would find a way to make friends and make a new home for herself - though she would always have to face ignorance and racism  - no matter where her "home" would be.....


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