Author: Ebony Joy Wilkins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Concepts: poverty, class, wealth, homelessness
Review: As NaTasha's grandmother Tilly pointed out, there was nothing normal about NaTasha being the only African American student in the entire school district. Tilly thought it would do NaTasha some good to gain more exposure to life outside of her sheltered suburban town. So NaTasha would spend a few weeks in Harlem living with her grandmother and serving as a volunteer at the non-profit where Tilly worked, a crisis center in the Bronx for girls in need of a safe space.
At first NaTasha thought she had nothing in common with the girls at the center. They seemed to have completely different backgrounds, values, and ways of handling themselves. Some of them even bullied her, shoving her around and calling her a sellout for her affluent upbringing. Thanks to Tilly's encouragement and small signs of acceptance over time at the shelter, NaTasha found the courage to keep going back and make some discoveries about her own identity.
This smart novel combines an entertaining story with a little romance and some big lessons about race and class. Young people trying to establish their identities will have little trouble relating to the conflicting emotions that the protagonist experiences as she establishes herself in two very different communities. The book tackles some important social issues but does so in a meaningful way that will resonate with young adult readers.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children