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The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee T.…
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The Other Half of My Heart

by Sundee T. Frazier

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This was a lovely look at identity and exploration of self. Minnie and Kiera King are twins, and are also biracial. However, Minnie is incredibly light, while Kiera is much darker. In this gentle and funny novel, Frazier takes on large concepts in a tween-friendly way. I'd recommend this to anyone struggling to define themselves, especially regarding heritage. ( )
  Tahleen | Feb 16, 2014 |
(from July 2010 SLJ)
Eleven-year-old twins Keira and Minni are used to the funny looks their “chessboard family” receives: Keira takes after their black mother and Minni takes after their white father. In spite of their differences in appearance and personality, the girls share a bond that they are convinced cannot be broken. When their maternal grandmother invites them to fly from their coastal Washington town to North Carolina so that she can enroll them in the Miss Black Pearl of America Program, their artistic mother is hesitant: she has issues with her overbearing, social-climbing parent. However, Mama competed in the program herself when she was growing up, and finally agrees that the twins should have the experience as well. Keira is ecstatic about the idea of entering a “pageant,” but introverted Minni is not looking forward to the experience. Her reservations seem well-founded when they arrive: Grandmother Johnson is just as persnickety as ever, and the Black Pearl’s president questions whether Minni qualifies to participate in this program intended for black girls. Ironically, their grandmother seems ambivalent about her own dark skin, and encourages Keira to straighten her hair and to use sunscreen to prevent further darkening. The ten days the girls spend with Grandmother Johnson, preparing for and competing in the program, are not easy ones: Minni learns what it feels like to be the odd person out in terms of appearance, and Keira is resentful that up until now, Minni really hasn’t understood what she was going through in their all-white Seattle suburb. But both girls grow in the process, and learn a few things about their grandmother’s own struggle to be seen as an equal by the white community. As she did in Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It (2007), Frazier addresses issues faced by mixed-race children with a grace and humor that keep her tone from being pedantic. Minni’s and Keira’s story is enjoyable in its own right, and will encourage readers to rethink racial boundaries and what it means to be “black” or “white” in America. ( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
I felt that the characters were somewhat contrived and the dialogue was, too. It wasn't awful, but chose to read another realistic fiction book for my class assignment.
  JessieP73 | Apr 6, 2013 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 4-7

Plot Summary: Minni and Keira are twins, but they don't look alike. Minni resembles her Irish father and Keira has much darker skin and traditional black hair after her black mother. Keira is also the social butterfly whereas Minni prefers to study, but still they are best friends. When Grandmother Johnson insists they visit her for the Miss Black Pearl Preteen America, Minni reluctantly agrees to go despite her fear of getting on stage in front of hundreds of people. But the girls start to realize their skin is a big factor in how others see them, and even how they see themselves. Minni is treated well at a dress shop and the owner doesn't realize who her sister is. Grandmother Johnson also makes little comments that get under the girls skin and make them think she prefers Minni over Keira. After much preparation, they finally reach the competition and face a mean girl who tries to trip Keira, her biggest competition. Will the sisters understand what the other goes through just because of her skin color? Who will win the competition? Will they get caught for the pranks on their strict Grandmother?

Setting: Port Townsend, Washington to North Carolina, modern day, mentions President Obama

Characters:
Minni Lunette King (AKA Minerva, AKA Skinny) - 11 y/o, told from her point of view, loves to read, admires MLK, doesn't worry about being social because she would prefer to be quiet and a good student
Keira Sol King - 11 y/o, named after then sun, born second, gymnast, very social and makes friends with everyone, has kinky black hair and wants a relaxer until she her grandmother says there is something wrong with her hair, self-conscious about being the only black girl in her school, is dyslexic
Lizette - Keira and Minni's mom, 43 y/o, artist, thinks her mother is very dramatic and got in a huge fight the last time Grandmother Johnson visited two years ago about the twin's skin color
Daddy - German-Irish, pilot of small planes, helped his wife give birth to the twins in the plane
Grandmother Johnson -
Bessie Coleman - talking pet bird
Gigi - Grandmother Gretchen, lives in Washington area, friendly and grandmother-like, takes them shopping for gowns before they go to North Carolina
Miss Oliphant - Grandmother Johnson's neighbor, much more laid back, makes dolls from dried apple heads, a judge for the Miss Black Pearl Preteen competition, Minni admires her for her strong black values

Recurring Themes: family, twins, prejudice, race relations, Martin Luther King, dyslexia, reading

Controversial Issues:
pg 139 "a few women sipped wine from real glasses."
pg 156 "Minni wasn't sure if heaven actually existed"

Personal Thoughts: This book confused me a little bit. I felt like it was supposed to be a historical novel, but it wasn't. It did make me think about how race is still a factor in modern day. For how long this book was, it was extremely predictable from the first chapter. There were no plot surprises or twists at all. Sometimes I also felt like it was written to tell me, rather than to show me, which made it a tad bit didactic.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Drama

Pacing: slow
Characters: was confusing to keep the twins straight for the first 60ish pages but maybe because I only read a little at a time and forgot when I picked the book up again
Frame: everything explained about race relations, but I didn't know it was in modern day until the girls got a cell phone and they mentioned President Obama
Storyline:

Activity: ( )
  pigeonlover | Nov 17, 2012 |
Biracial twin sisters Keira and Minerva don't look anything alike. Keira is dark-skinned like her African-American mother and Minnie has blue eyes and light skin like her white father. Growing up in a small Washington State town, Keira is the one who always feels different and sometimes wrong. But when their grandmother insists on entering both girls in the Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America program in her hometown of Raleigh, NC, Minnie will discover what it's like to be the one who doesn't fit in. And seeing the world from Keira's eyes will help her find the voice she so desperately wants to shout down injustice.

I love the premise, but the story fell a little flat for me. I felt like it was slow going at the beginning without many opportunities for Bahni Turpin's excellent narration to shine. When the twins arrived in Raleigh, Turpin's voice for Grandmother Johnson brought me back into the story and that's what I liked best about the whole book. It slowed down for me again at the end when Grandmother Johnson wasn't as prevalent. And I think that shows you what I thought of the book overall, that even with this fabulous premise, the most interesting character was an adult. ( )
  abbylibrarian | Apr 11, 2012 |
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For my precious pearls, Skye Lettiann and Umbria Mae.
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Minni's heart soared as the small plane's wheels lifted from the ground.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385734409, Hardcover)

The close relationship of a pair of biracial twins is tested when their grandmother enters them in a pageant for African American girls in this new story from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner Sundee T. Frazier.
 
When Minerva and Keira King were born, they made headlines: Keira is black like Mama, but Minni is white like Daddy. Together the family might look like part of a chessboard row, but they are first and foremost the close-knit Kings. Then Grandmother Johnson calls, to invite the twins down South to compete for the title of Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America.
 
Minni dreads the spotlight, but Keira assures her that together they'll get through their stay with Grandmother Johnson. But when grandmother's bias against Keira reveals itself, Keira pulls away from her twin. Minni has always believed that no matter how different she and Keira are, they share a deep bond of the heart. Now she'll find out the truth.
 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:53 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Twin daughters of interracial parents, eleven-year-olds Keira and Minna have very different skin tones and personalities, but it is not until their African American grandmother enters them in the Miss Black Pearl Pre-Teen competition in North Carolina that red-haired and pale-skinned Minna realizes what life in their small town in the Pacific Northwest has been like for her more outgoing, darker-skinned sister.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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