Monday, January 17, 2011

The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee T. Frazier


The close relationship of a pair of biracial twins is tested when their grandmother enters them in a pageant for African American girls in this new story from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner Sundee T. Frazier.
When Minerva and Keira King were born, they made headlines: Keira is black like Mama, but Minni is white like Daddy. Together the family might look like part of a chessboard row, but they are first and foremost the close-knit Kings. Then Grandmother Johnson calls, to invite the twins down South to compete for the title of Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America. 
Minni dreads the spotlight, but Keira assures her that together they'll get through their stay with Grandmother Johnson. But when grandmother's bias against Keira reveals itself, Keira pulls away from her twin. Minni has always believed that no matter how different she and Keira are, they share a deep bond of the heart. Now she'll find out the truth.

I truly enjoyed this book. It is one of those books that I would recommend to my 5th graders as well as to teens and adults.  

This contemporary book is a serious look at racial issues (and for those who may think we have moved beyond those issues, this book will make you rethink that). It also has many light hearted moments.  Grandmother Johnson provides quite a bit of comic relief.

Two things could have made this book better.  One is a better cover.  It just doesn’t do the story justice. It looks so serious some readers may pass it by.  Second is to have had some of the story told from Keira’s view. We do get some insight to her feelings, but the story is basically Minni’s. It would have been interesting to have the chapters switch back and forth between the girls – comparing and contrasting how the various events in book impact them.

In addition to exploring race issues, the story shows the struggle of being yourself and being accepted for who you are.  It also covers the bond between sisters, especially twins.  Even though the girls do experience different feelings and challenges which does cause some tension between them, Frazier created a strong bond between the girls, one that can stand up to a little strain and tension.  Keira truly is the other half of Minni’s heart.

This is an excellent book.  Though I didn’t plan this, it turned out to be an excellent book to read around Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. (Dr. King is Minni’s  hero and is mentioned frequently in the book.)

Recommended for Third Grade and up.

Mrs. Archer’s Rating:  5 of 5

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