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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

NaTasha's parents' decision to raise her in an all-white suburb doesn't sit well with grandmother Tilly, who thinks the African American teen is trying to squeeze into a persona that doesn't fit. After a disastrous ballet recital, the teen still doesn't quite agree, but embarrassed by her clumsiness, she sees the merit in spending time in Tilly's Harlem neighborhood during the summer. NaTasha reacquaints herself with a childhood friend and flirts with a boy at the local bodega. But it's her relationships with the girls at a crisis center for troubled teens in a rough area of the Bronx that truly engender her growth. Although the story opens up room for discussion about self-loathing and exactly what being a sellout entails, it does strain belief at times, especially when Tilly, a longtime center volunteer, knowingly exposes NaTasha to a group of girls who are brutal, even violent bullies. Still, NaTasha's budding realization that appearances and expectations often mask a person's true nature, and that even bullies have a story, signals an important adolescent journey.--Cruze, Karen Copyright 2010 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

NaTasha has well-meaning parents and a supportive best friend, so being nearly the only African-American teen at school only occasionally gives her problems. Her grandmother Tilly has misgivings, however, and when she witnesses NaTasha's difficulties with a dance recital, she insists on taking her back to Harlem to volunteer at Amber's Place, a program for troubled girls. It's not easy for NaTasha to fit in: The others criticize her speech and clothes and nickname her "Sellout." Tilly will not let her quit, though, and she gradually connects with the girls. With an important project and a first date, NaTasha's visit becomes richer than her life back home. Details she learns about her grandmother and mother provide insight as she develops a stronger sense of herself. Here is the normal teen coming-of-age story placed in a context of race and class. NaTasha's doubts about her mother's focus on shopping and appearances successfully present a character open to the change she experiences. Some at the center are predictable tough-girl characters, but the dialogue is authentic, and NaTasha's growth feels right. (Fiction. 12 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Being nearly the only African American in her suburban school doesn't bother NaTasha, but it sure bothers Tilly, her spitfire grandmother from Harlem. When Tilly decides NaTasha needs to get back to her roots, NaTasha is thrown into a world where everything is unfamiliar--and a little frightening.While Tilly and NaTasha volunteer at Amber's Place, a crisis center in the Bronx to help troubled girls straighten out their lives, NaTasha discovers that these rough, self-assured girls aren't the only ones struggling to find the right path. Even though the girls at Amber's place wield their secrets like knives and despise NaTasha's privileged life, NaTasha stands her ground. What she discovers, as the summer unfolds, surprises everyone--especially her.
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