Title: Finding My Place
Author: Traci L. Jones
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Economic concepts: jobs, earnings, scarcity, discrimination by race and class
Review: As the only African American girl in her new high school, Tiphanie Baker resented her parents' decision to move to this starchy white, upscale Denver suburb. Her dad's promotion to VP at the bank and her mom's new job as a realtor had enabled them to upgrade their home, but Tiphanie did not see it as much of a step up when she faced what felt like a sea of hostile white faces at her new school. Although the situation improved when Jackie Sue Webster broke the ice and struck up a friendship, Tiphanie soon learned that social class and poverty could also pose some large obstacles when trying to fit in and gain other people's approval.
Set in 1975 when the reforms of the civil rights movement were still recent, this book broaches the theme of discrimination as experienced by two very different high school girls. The author sets up an interesting question of what it means for an affluent African American youngster to establish her identity when she feels out of place in both her new predominantly-white school and in her old predominantly-black community. Add a low-income white girl with an alcoholic mother from a trailer park to the mix, and the end result is an interesting social commentary about race and class during the mid-1970s.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Children and Economics