K. L. Going
Kathy Dawson Books, 2015
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Pieces of Why, K.L. Going's story describing a young girl's discovery of her past, will cause you to take a moment and consider your own biases. Tia lives in a not so great area of New Orleans with her mom who is always too busy working to find time for Tia. Instead she has always found space in her best friend Keisha's house and in music. The two are members of the Rainbow Choir, a group of young singers from all walks of life meant to bring a neighborhood together. Tia soars when she sings, but one night there is a shooting right outside the church where the Rainbow Choir rehearses and it throws Tia's life into a spin. With memories of her father, who is now in prison, stirred up by this act of violence, Tia has lost her song. She struggles to understand the truth and her place in it while trying to make things right.
We often look at the person who has committed a crime without thought of where they come from or who their family is. It's easy to assume that a person who commits a terrible crime must come from a terrible place and that anyone associated with him or her is also to blame. Pieces of Why asks readers to step back and reconsider that assumption.
Tia's father is in jail for life and she and her mom are simply trying to live their lives. This book was suggested to me by a student and I can see why. Tia and Keisha's friendship is relatable and very secure. They are solid friends and support one another, but also have their arguments and have to work through them. They're also dealing with some pretty serious issues.
As parents and teachers and adults we want to shield our kids from the terrible things that happen in the world, but this reminds us that we can't always do that. Our kids will have to deal with really difficult situations of all sorts, and probably well before we think they're ready to deal with them. Books like these can help teach empathy towards others. They can help our kids be a great best friend when their friend truly needs him or her. They can help our kids understand how important it is to consider all sides of a story before making a judgement. This is why reading and books are so important.
Time to get off my soapbox.
I appreciated how Tia's discovery of the truth was slowly revealed and how she was the one in charge of her knowledge. I did think there were some overly preachy parts and although it didn't get too religious, it started to sway that direction. In the end, though, it was about Tia finding her own outlet. She truly is the one in charge of her own destiny here.
I would say Pieces of Why is a good one to share with your child and read with them--not because it's inappropriate or questionable, but because there is so much available to discuss. It's a quick and easy read for your middle schooler.
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