The Other Half of My Heart

by Sundee T. Frazier

Eleven-year-old twins Minni and Keira are far from identical. Outgoing Keira has... read more

Eleven-year-old twins Minni and Keira are far from identical. Outgoing Keira has dark brown skin, hair, and eyes like their African American mom. Shy Minni has light skin, red hair, and blue eyes like their Irish American dad. The sisters are visiting their African American grandmother to participate in the Miss Black Pearl preteen program—an event Minni dreads, while Keira can’t wait to perform. The girls find plenty of ways to make fun of their strict, old-fashioned grandmother, but some things are too painful for laughter. Grandmother Johnson passionately shares memories of the civil rights movement, but also clearly favors Minni and makes critical comments about Keira’s dark skin and kinky hair. This, along with Keira’s defense of Minni after another contender nastily questions Minni’s blackness, makes Minni think more about what it’s like for Keira in their community back home, where theirs is the only African American family. It also makes Minni feel guilty for not speaking out when her sister has faced overt racism, and uncertain about her own racial identity. Sundee T. Frazier takes a fearless look at the complex issues of race, identity, and prejudice beyond and within the Black community in this lively, deeply felt novel in which nothing, including love, is black-and-white. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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