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FINDING MY PLACE by Traci L. Jones

FINDING MY PLACE

By Traci L. Jones

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: May 25th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-374-33573-1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Tiphanie Baker is beginning high school as the only black female student at Denver’s Brent Hills High. It is 1975, and her civil-rights–minded parents see this as an upward step, while Tiphanie’s concerns are normal teen worries. School comes easy enough on the surface, but even math gets a racial subtext. Nothing is clear cut. “I was beginning to wonder if my classmates really were racist, or if possibly they were just rude.” She is relieved when Jackie Sue, another outsider, strikes up a friendship. However, attempts to deepen their friendship expose that girl’s difficult home life. This is an intriguing look at coping in the post–civil-rights era while exploring issues all teens face. Jones is successful in her depiction of Tiphanie and her parents, who are concerned but see life differently. Jackie Sue, with her love of words and fierce personality, is an engaging character. The novel is less successful with others, such as the racist bully, Clay, and Jackie Sue’s Alabama-born, former–beauty-queen mother, who border on stereotypes. Still, a well-told story that will hold readers. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)