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This Side of Home

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,533 ratings  ·  454 reviews
Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything—friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Sudde ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
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Summer To respect everyone's culture …moreTo respect everyone's culture (less)
willaful Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is somewhat similar, in that it's also about an identical twin whose sister is separating from her. The other plot elements …moreFangirl by Rainbow Rowell is somewhat similar, in that it's also about an identical twin whose sister is separating from her. The other plot elements are quite different, though.(less)

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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,533 ratings  ·  454 reviews

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Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked)
When I first picked this up, it seemed like a solid three-star book. The writing felt choppy but it was a good enough story. By the end, it totally changed. The writing still felt choppy, especially with how short the chapters are, but we were getting snippets of time, and it worked. We didn't need to know every little detail happening.

I can say hands down this is one of my favourite books about the Black experience. It shows many struggles a Black teenager experiences without trauma. It shows B
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Yet another incredible Watson title. I loved reading this and I would absolutely love if more people picked up a copy soon, because this deserves all the hype
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Renée Watson's debut novel THIS SIDE OF HOME is the story of Maya's senior year at high school. It starts with a big change, when her best friend is evicted from the house across the street and has to move across town. The new family that moves in is white, just like most of the families moving into the historically black neighborhood.

Maya is passionate about her town, about the history of her neighborhood and school and the people who have lived there. She's angered by the gentrification, by th
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
My name is L.

I have a problem.

I read YA fiction and I love the state I'm in.

But, YA doesn't tend to love some of its readers back.

However, sometimes I find what's offered in this "subgenre" (as it's not a genre, but rather a geared audience) anemic and offering little variation in plot, characters, and even book aesthetic. When I find a true gem, I must shout. This Side of Home offers a story many desire, but few see.

1. A strong and relatable female protagonist. She's not perfect. She pos
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-contemporary

Really enjoyed this book & the message it had!
Kate (GirlReading)
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This Side Of Home is the second of Renée Watson’s books I’ve read and it most certainly wont be my last. She has such an incredible talent for expressing power and depth within her words, with an ease that I’m in awe of. Her writing may seem simple due to being so easy to read, yet it is anything but. She simply doesn’t need to cram her pages with flowery descriptions to tell her stories. Her tone is lyrical, yet to the point and I love it so much.

This Side Of Home was powerful, fun, heartwarmi
Jenny Bunting
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic YA debut novel about an African American girl named Maya whose heart is set on attending a historically black college with her twin, Nikki, and their best friend Essence after high school. Their neighborhood in Portland, OR is changing with an influx of redevelopment and the demographic is changing. Maya is incredibly resistant to change and wants things to stay the way they are while Nikki accepts change a little too easily for Maya.

I thought it was so refreshing for this s
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's been a while since I've read a book so peppered in culture and the highs and lows of racial differences, but I must say I truly liked this story for all it stood for and the way in which it was written.

This Side of Home tells the story of Maya, and the tight bond she has with her twin sister, Nikki, and her best friend Essence. It's also about coping with changes, to oneself and to everything around you. Her whole life, Maya had everything mapped out, so it was understandable that she'd fe
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so good! I loved the message, the romance, and the friendship! I'm definitely going to read more by this author 😊❤️ ...more
Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)

I LOVED this book. First of all, I’m a sucker for a twin story, being one myself I love reading about twin sisters (especially if they don’t hate each other) and this book did not disappoint. This Side of Home is a gorgeous and thought provoking book about gentrification, community, and identity. It’s filled with warmth and love and heart and frustration and indecision and stubbornness. I just loved it so much!!

-Maya & Nikki. Like I said, I’m a sucker for twin stories, especially twin s
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was book was just amazing!

I saw this book in a video one of my favourite booktubers made and I decided to give it a go because she said she enjoyed it a lot. I am so glad I picked it up because it was such an educational and emotional read.
As a white European I don't get to communicate with people of colour that often, especially African-Americans. I never knew the extent of the problems and struggles they face on a daily basis. I am so happy that I now know thanks to this book.
I definit
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a great young adult book. I was lucky enough to have won this through a Goodreads giveaway, and it's definitely one of my favorite ya that I have received. It is quite true to high school, and relevant. Nicely written, and I loved how it isn't focused around sex. A lovely change. ...more
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via NetGalley.

Some books are just too gorgeous to talk about for a certain period of time after you read them. Every time you try, all the emotions come rushing back in and you choke up like I did that time I was in my school musical in sixth grade (don’t ask anything about it because it ties into the horrible story of one of my brother’s ex-girlfriends). This Side of Home is one such book. All I could say
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bloomsbury
Senior Maya Younger is a remarkable young woman, articulate, intelligent and ambitious. Identical siblings Maya and Nikki aspire to attend Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women. The Portland neighbourhood is evolving, a predominantly black community displaced by white residents and corporate franchise stores.
They've painted and planted and made beauty out of decaying dreams. Block after block, strangers kept coming to Jackson Avenue, kept coming and changing and
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It was very much a YA story...but so much better! I loved how the author touched on so many things that make up a part of being black. A very subtle read! I'd definitely recommend this! ...more
Rich in Color
Nov 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
Review copy: ARC via Netgalley

This Side of Home is a solid debut by Renée Watson. While it shares many of the same tropes as other coming-of-age stories, the execution is what sets this book apart. Watson does a commendable job of painting a community in transition as gentrification drives old residents out and changes narrator Maya’s world in both obvious and subtle ways. Watching Maya and her neighborhood as they handled—or didn’t handle—the tumult made for a compelling story.

There were many s
Ms. Yingling
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nikki and Maya (both named after the poets) love their Portland neighborhood, but it is slowly gentrifying, with coffee shops opening in the homes of their old friends. Nikki thinks it's great, but Maya isn't a huge fan, especially when her friend Essence's house is sold and her friend moves 45 minutes away by bus. A new family moves in-- Kate, Tony, and their parents, who both work in community outreach jobs... and are white. Nikki takes to Kate right away, introducing her to life at their high ...more
Dec 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Review also found at

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is February 3rd 2015.

The synopsis provided for this story pretty much captures the essence of this story (too funny that one of the characters names is Essence!). This story is about two sisters who are experiencing changes in their environment and how they deal with it differently. It addresses the
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Young adult fiction about gentrification in Portland Oregon? This book was made for me!

"This Side of Home" follows Maya, a high school senior living in a historically black neighborhood in Portland, over the course of a year. Maya and her twin sister Nikki are starting to grow apart as they feel differently about how to deal with the changes in their neighborhood - changes that impact their best friend Essence as well as the culture of their high school.

Watson did a wonderful job of building a
This is THE most timely and relevant book for my neighborhood in Seattle, which is undergoing the same social and emotional turbulence of gentrification as Portland depicted in this story.

Complications of loyalty, repercussions of activism, and the changing nature of childhood promises add depth. Main character Maya is the only character fully realized but I recognized all the rest as the community I interact with daily. My own experiences fleshed out what some might consider to be flimsy secon
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book reads much younger than I was expecting it to, so it took me a while to really get into it. But there's a lot I like about it, like the conversation Maya has with the old man in the coffee shop about Vanport and Portland's Black history, and the small but significant discussion about how hard it can be to have a parent who is an activist and puts community work first, and how exhausting it can be to always feel like you have to represent something. ...more
Mia Bao
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think that "This Side of Home" is one of the best books that I have ever read because I've learned so much from it. I could also relate to the story because I live in the neighborhood that the book is based on. I can understand how the neighborhood is gentrified and I know exactly how Maya feels about her neighborhood. One of the biggest things that I learned from this book is that you should always ask questions and fight for what you believe is right. ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
My full review can be seen here ...more
LynnDee (LynnDee's Library)
I appreciated this story for the window it provided me into what it's like being a black girl living in a neighborhood that is slowly becoming gentrified. The more I read stories like this, the more I learn and the better ally I can be. What I didn't care for was the the way there was a lot of telling and not a lot of showing. The message just seemed to be repeated over and over. However, I do realize that I am probably not the reader the author intended this book for, and that teens might benef ...more
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Please support my blog and read my review here:

I've been on such a YA contemporary kick lately, and This Side of Home is a great addition to the list. The story chronicles the life of twins Nikki and Maya as they finish up their last year of high school. Maya is our first-person narrator, and lets readers into her life in Portland, Oregon. The neighborhood in which she grew up is changing – new businesses are popping up everywhere, new families
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a book everyone should read.

Beautifully written and thought-provoking, This Side of Home takes a refreshingly honest look at how cultural changes affects not only the relationship between twin sisters Maya and Nikki, but everyone around them, regardless of the color of their skin.

What I Liked:
~ The sisterly bond between Maya and Nikki, how they challenged and supported each other.
~ Their longtime friendship with Essence as well as the ones they formed with the new kids.
~ Maya and Nikk
Feb 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult-read
This Side Of Home is a story about twins Maya & Nikki. They were named after famous African American poets Maya Angelou Nad Nikki Giovanni. They are living in a neighborhood in Portland, Oregon that is going through a resurrection (gentrification). Because of this gentrification, it causes their oldest and dearest friend Essence to move to away from them. Essence is essentially the "third" twin. You see their life being played out with their last year of school with controversies, new friends an ...more
THIS SIDE OF HOME by Renée Watson is an inspiring YA novel following a young woman facing the timely issues of racial, ethnic, cultural, and community identify.

Her neighborhood is changing and Maya is concerned about the impact this evolution will have on her school and community. The Portland, Oregon setting is perfect for a discussion of changing neighbors and reflects the urban renewal pressures facing many American cities.

Watson brings the difficult topics of race and community alive throug
I liked this. I liked that it was set in the Pacific Northwest! The descriptions of the weather were so great. That rain that lingers forever into summer, only to be taken over by hot weather that destroys everyone! And I liked that it took place over an entire year. MORE YA THAT DOES THAT, PLEASE. (Actually. More books in general that do that.)

Buuut I think the book dealt with too much. Like, I don't feel like I got much of a sense of Maya and Nikki's relationship. (And I never quite lost my fe
Rachael Robson
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I wish there was an option to give this book 4.5 stars. I loved it, but just not quite enough to call it a new favorite.

Here is my video review.

This book is set in a lower-income urban neighborhood, where, until recently, violence has been routine. There are several (brief, not explicit) references to violent incidents in the past. One character's mother is an alcoholic and shows up drunk throughout the book. There is teen romance, and some kissing, but nothing further or mo
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Renée Watson is the author of the children’s picture book, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Random House, June 2010), which was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as the New Voice for 2010 in middle grade fiction by The Independent Children's Booksellers Association.

Renée’s one woman show, Roses are Red, Women are Blue, debuted at N

Articles featuring this book

Contemporary young adult literature has often led the way in depicting the real-life issues facing teens from all backgrounds. To delve into...
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“Am I a hypocrite?” I ask. “You’re a black girl who fell in love with a white boy.” “And a black girl who cares about race and class issues.” Nikki leans back in the chair. “You can be both.” 6 likes
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