“Some Places More than Others” by Renee Watson is a book about a girl who, step by step, finds out about the hidden past within her family and connects with her history. Twelve-year-old Amara wants to know more about her grandfather and family in New York. She finds herself stuck on a school assignment called The Suitcase Project. Since she doesn’t know much about her past, she wants to go to New York for her birthday with her dad, seeing it as the perfect opportunity to find out why her grandfather and her dad have not spoken in twelve years.
She also seems to want to escape from all the emotion of her mother being pregnant. Instead of being excited, she is a little sad because she has heard that a baby is coming 3 times, then lost each one. Because of that, she really doesn’t want to get attached to the baby who might never come. I thought that that added extra emotion to the book, and it seemed to affect her the entire time. Amara luckily has a good, tightly bonded community, filled with people who love her.
I knew I would probably like this book right when it mentioned the family drama, traveling, and, of course, New York. All the great storytelling, love and acceptance as Amara finds (and makes) her own truth made the book a great read. It was amazing for her to go to Harlem: “In Oregon, I only see stuff like this in museums when there’s a special exhibit up that celebrates black history. But here-right outside in the middle of the street- there’s a reminder. I wonder if the people who live here ever stop to take it in. Do they ever stand here, say a prayer of thanksgiving?” Renee Watson’s unique writing style shows throughout the book how much visiting Harlem means to Amara. It helps her truly connect with her heritage, not just through stories and photobooks.
I enjoyed “Some Places More than Others”. Even though it was a little short for my taste, the detail and drama as Amara finds her way makes this story very good. It did get better as she got to know her family and her culture. The part that stuck out to me the most was her complicated relationship with her cousins. I really liked that the author made a “nobody’s perfect” bittersweet reunion when she meets her cousins, which definitely was a good example of diversity. Her cousins (or a least one of them,) thinks that Amara is spoiled. They make fun of her straightened hair, the fact that her grandfather and Dad treat her like a baby, and that her best friend is a boy.
The book was a little intense at some points, from family and fights, so I would recommend it for 4th grade and up. It might have some questionable parts for kids who are younger. This book is good, beginning to end. I will look forward to any more great writing from Renee Watson!