Why you'll like it: Discusses Gentrification. Race & Identity. Coming of Age.
I remember my parents getting excited anytime they heard that white people might move into the area. They would go, you know, automatically those property values are going to go up.
Unfortunately, with the type of politicians Chicagoans vote in---it has yet to happen. I remember residents all excited about the potential that Sandi Jackson was bringing as alderman to the seventh ward. She communicated that her great vision was to revitalize the neighborhood by bringing a mall to the south side of Chicago. Residents are still waiting on that mall.
I grew up in a highly segregated area in Chicago. My parents debated about moving to the suburbs, but they predicted that people would stop wanting to drive from the suburbs all the way to the city. They were pretty much right. My mom would also joke around that she knew where all the crack houses where in the city, and in the suburbs your next door "nice-as-pie" neighbor could actually be a serial killer. She would rather take her chances in the city. I have always wondered what would happen if our area was hit by a wave of resources (great schools, upscale boutiques, restaurants and grocery stores . Would I be any different if my neighborhood had of changed during adolescence?
I was reliving all those memories as I read this book. Watson did such a good job writing about the effects of gentrification. She mixes a broader issue with one that anyone can relate to the joy and pains of adolescence. Coming of age books are poignant because there are just so many factors outside of your control. If you think that often times you are unsure of what is going on with you (physically and emotionally) and then your whole world that seemed normal starts spinning out of control. How do you figure things out? What keeps you grounded? I think I love that extra layer added to this book. You are given various black experiences that explores multi-faceted African-American youth trying to figure their life out before they finish high school.
Our main characters are identical twins Maya and Nikki. They are each dealing with issues from dating, cultural identity, friends, and college choices. Maya is not really being receptive to changes happening in her neighborhood. On the other hand, Nikki is embracing the changes with arms wide open. It’s left up to Maya to figure out exactly what will her future look like and come to terms with the meaning of community.