Today's edition of the Subversive Children's book club addresses an issue that our so-mobile society seems to want to avoid: the importance and necessity of people being rooted parts of communities that have history and traditions and the kinds of identities that only grow and develop with time, but which are so, so important to a healthy humanity.
This Side of Home by Renee Watson is about a high school senior growing up with her twin sister and parents in a community which, until very recently, has been primarily African American. Gentrification is taking hold in Maya's neighborhood and she is not that happy with all the new faces and new businesses that come into her community and essentially try to erase its identity, without always even knowing they are doing so. Her sister feels differently, trying to enjoy the benefits of the new. The book provokes serious thought about both racism and community and avoids over-simplifying the issues while still maintaining a level of sweetness that makes it appropriate for readers somewhat younger than its target audience.