Some Places More Than Others: 07/30/21
Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson is a middle grade novel about Amara helping her father reconnect with his family after more than a decade. A school assignment about filling a suitcase with the things that are important to her family is the final thing that lets her go to New York with her father.
Amara lives in Beaverton, Oregon with her mother and father. It's the HQ city of Nike (something I learned reading this book). Amara loves where she lives but she's desperate to meet her grandfather, aunt, and cousins in person. She also wants to play tourist.
Amara's time in Harlem can best be described as a mixture of Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2003) and One Way or Another by Kara McDowell (2020). Her family isn't what she expected and her cousins bluntly call her out for her privileged life. She also finds native New Yorkers aren't really into playing tourist. This bit resonates with me in that I never want to play tourist in San Francisco even though I live nearby.
Ultimately though it is a time for Amara and her father to reconnect with their family. It's a time to mend hurt feelings and for Amara to learn about the history of her family and their neighborhood.
The journey to Harlem also sits on the road narrative spectrum. Amara and her father are a family of travelers (33). Their destination is the city (New York, and specifically Harlem) (00). Their route their is offroad (via airplane) (66). While there is talk of the past, the novel is firmly set in the here and now with the goal of a stronger, more united family moving forward which is why I've described the novel in terms of a family going to the city via an offroad means (330066).