07 July 2011

Review: The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee T. Frazier

Minerva and Keira King's fifteen minutes of fame came on the day they were born. One-in-a-million twins, not because they were born in the back of their daddy's Cessna on a airstrip in Forks, Washington, not because they were born six weeks early or ten minutes apart. They made the news because Minni had the pale skin and red hair of their father's family and Keira had the dark skin and curly hair of her mother's.

Sundee T. Frazier's The Other Half of My Heart starts on the twins' eleventh birthday and explores the concept of feeling different from a unique angle. This middle reader coming-of-age story focuses on Minni and how she wishes she were more like her twin and her mother.

As all preteens, Minni sees the world mostly as it affects her. She is shier, more bookish, and less exuberant than Keira and relies on her sister to get her through social situations. When she takes the time to see how strangers sometimes treat Keira differently, Minni usually ends up feeling guilty that she can't muster the courage to stand up for what is right.

All this changes for Minni when the girls visit their grandmother Johnson to compete in the Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America pageant. From the moment they land in South Carolina, Minni notices that the ratio of black to white is much more balanced than it is the Pacific Northwest. She also notices that Keira seems to be separating from her.

When she has to prove her blackness to be allowed to enter the pageant with her twin, Minni begins her journey to self-discovery and self-identity. With the help of her grandmother's neighbor, Minni learns that it is up to her to decide who she will be--black or white, a leader or a follower--and that no matter what, she will always have a sister and will never look like her twin.

Frazier balances out the tougher aspects of Minni's story with humor, love, and a touch of civil rights history. The novel would make an excellent family listen or read because it provides a basis for good discussion. Themes include the nature of families, being different, accepting others, sibling love, and pushing yourself to do better while learning to accept yourself for who you are.

I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Listening Library, 7 hr, 55 min) read by Bahni Turpin, whose characterizations--from the young twins to the southern grandmother--are believable and engaging. My full audio review will appear on the AudioFile website and/or in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

Give it to me quickly: Minni King, a biracial twin struggles with self-identity in an accessible coming-of-age story; recommended for the entire family, but perfect for middle reader book clubs.

To learn more about the award-winning Sundee T. Frazier and her work, be sure to visit her website. This review will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.

Published by Random House / Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010
ISBN-13: 9780385734400
YTD: 62
Source: Review (see review policy).
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Kay 7/7/11, 7:44 AM  

This one sounds like a good one. I'll keep it in mind. Interesting premise and I can see how it would be a great discussion tool for families and book groups.

The only other thing - Forks, Washington - really? There couldn't be another Washington locale? LOL

Beth F 7/7/11, 7:49 AM  

Kay: I thought the same thing!! But the family doesn't live in Forks, and the bulk of the story takes place in the South.

Hillary 7/7/11, 8:00 AM  

This sounds like an interesting book I will have to check it out.

Nise' 7/7/11, 8:53 AM  

I saw this book at the library and now am sorry I did not pick it up.

caite 7/7/11, 9:28 AM  

an interesting idea to explore..to be a twin, in a way so close, and yet to have these separations and differences.
sounds good.

Veens 7/7/11, 10:44 AM  

Sounds like an interesting book with lot to discuss.

Zibilee 7/7/11, 11:13 AM  

Very unique premise and concept with this book. I think it would make for an interesting read. I agree with the others that mention that there would be a lot to discuss with this book.

bermudaonion 7/7/11, 12:15 PM  

The premise of this intrigues me and the fact that most of the story takes place in South Carolina is just an added bonus!

Julie P. 7/7/11, 3:25 PM  

This does sound like a good one for our mother/daughter book club.

softdrink 7/7/11, 3:43 PM  

It sounds good...even if there is mention of Forks!

Sandy Nawrot 7/7/11, 6:42 PM  

Always looking for a kid-friendly audio. Not sure if my son would tolerate one focused on (gasp) girls, but he is sensitive to racial issues.

Julie P. 7/10/11, 11:07 PM  

I am always drawn to coming of age stories. This looks like one that Booking Daughter and I both might enjoy.

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