Book Chat: This Side of Home

This Side of Home by Renee Watson


Nikki and Maya are twin sisters that have always done things together. But, as they enter their senior year of high school, things start to change – within their community, their school, and their friendships. The book takes us through Maya’s experiences of the gentrification of her hometown, making friends with the new boy next door, and college application stress. It’s a high school story with romance and difficult friendships and identity confusion. But, it is SO MUCH MORE.

We pulled dictionary definitions for microaggression and racism, neither of us are scholars and we know our explanation lacks nuance (and, possibly, accuracy). We’re digging deeper to make sure we represent these issues accurately in the future.

Favorite Character
Charles – He’s kind of a side character, but he’s so earnest and making such an effort that I was cheering for him every step of the way. I loved that he owned his idiosyncrasies and that everyone rallied behind him. (Tony gets an nomination here, too, because he also is trying very hard to understand and do what is right while being true to his own feelings.)
Favorite Line
I wish I could write half the book here. But, these will do:
“She needs someone to listen to her yesterdays.”
“Sometimes I am barely a flame. Sometimes I’m a coward.”
“I wonder why Principal Green told us what we might not be instead of telling us the possibility of what good we could become.”

Also, chapters 28, 60, and 78 in their entireties. Amazing.
Fun Author Fact
Renee Watson has published children’s, middle grade, and YA books! In the second grade, she wrote a 21 page book for school and then she knew where her life would lead.
Read These Next
The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi for another teenage relationship with serious political themes or How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon about the fall out from a neighborhood shooting (and which Anisha will be reviewing soon).
Is this worth a book hangover?
ABSOLUTELY. We both fell in love with this book because it’s an honest portrayal of the identity crisis of high school and the looming stress of college applications while seamlessly including a story of gentrification, racial tension, and stereotypes. We plan to recommend this to a lot of people – as a perfect example of beautiful writing and fantastic YA literature. Additionally, there are lots of things in this book we just didn’t get to – allies, representations of marriage, the role of community among the underprivileged, Essence’s life experience – and that makes this book even better because there is SO MUCH to unpack.
Post Author
Jess loves SFF – old and new school –  and is learning to appreciate the more lovey-dovey YA under the careful tutelage of Anisha’s recommendations.


Filed under Contemporary, Heavy Topics, High School, podcast

6 responses to “Book Chat: This Side of Home

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