Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What Momma Left Me” as Want to Read:
What Momma Left Me
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What Momma Left Me

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  182 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
How is it that unsavory raw ingredients come together to form a delicious cake? What is it about life that when you take all the hard stuff and rough stuff and add in a lot of love, you still just might have a wonderful life? For Serenity, these questions rise up early when her father kills her mother, and leaves her and her brother Danny to live with their kind but strict ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What Momma Left Me, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Fletcher This book has a sad story. However most of the book is not enough to make you cry, depending on how emotional you are.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 31, 2011 TheBookSmugglers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ana’s Take:

I was not prepared for this book. The cover of What Momma Left Me is adorable and as such it is perhaps too misleading as the contents of this story do not match the lightness of the cover at all. This is a novel that features very heavy topics such as abuse, murder, suicide and paedophilia all bundled up in a coming of age story that manages to uplifting and hopeful despite all this tragedy. What Momma Left Me is a wonderful book.

There are certain stories that just pack a power
Oct 31, 2010 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
This is tough, but wonderful book for tweens.

Serenity's home life is an urban tragedy. When she moves in with her grandparents she tries to manage the situation at school, her personal interests and the demons of her past. Serenity struggles with all of these making some understandable, but wrong-headed decisions. Serenity's strength and growth as a character are written beautifully. Watson's narrative makes use of biblical phrases, poetry, and charm that fully absorb the reader.

Don't let the co
Mar 28, 2010 Ari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Right away you know this novel is going to put a unique and heartbreaking twist on the motherless child story. Serenity's father killed her mother. Serenity and Danny know that he did it but they think maybe he doesn't realize that he actually KILLED their mother and that's why he hasn't come back. They keep hoping their father will come back for them. I was taken by surprise by what happened concerning their father.There are signs that Danny is turning into his father, always angry and heading ...more
Laura de Leon
This book is a simple but beautiful story of a thirteen year old girl struggling to make sense of her life after the death of her mother.

The book is very readable, with a main character (Serenity) that struggles with all the issues of being a teen, as well as the bigger challenge of her mother's death.

I really enjoyed the bits from Serenity's journal at the beginning of each chapter as she uses something from her writing class to begin to develop a voice as a writer.

Serenity struggles with her
Uwimana Glorious
this book is about a girl name Serenity whose mom work in a kitchen they called the magic kitchen. Serenity followed her mom foot steps of the power of cooking and baking. Serenity mom died when she was still a young girl and her gather left her and her brother.
Jun 28, 2013 Asia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was sad that Ricky died awww
Well-written, but oh, so realistic (depressing).
Apr 27, 2013 Bee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: past-reads
I really enjoyed this book it was very uplifting.
Jul 04, 2017 Jade rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book, "What Momma Left Me," a girl named Serenity Evans had just lost her mother. Her and her brother Danny Go through many hardships throughout the next year. After there mother died, they moved in with their grandparents because their father was never home. Serenity and Danny go through many sad times with their grandparents but soon learn that happiness always overcomes sadness. Their grandmother told them that even if you cry you will always laugh more. she also relates their lives t ...more
Jan 31, 2011 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mostly a very sweet book about a 13 year old girl and her 12 year old brother who lose their mother and go to live with their grandparents. I liked a lot of things about this book. The people in the book are African American - but with no self-consciousness - they simply are people and oh, yes, they are black. I rarely find books that treat race so offhandedly and easily. The people in this book are religious, but again without any self consciousness. It would have been really easy for me to be ...more
Jul 10, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidlit
Renee Watson hit a home run with this book. It takes a very disturbing situation (the murder of Serenity's mother) and explores the emotions and impacts of the event on the girl, her brother, and her mother's parents. Disney would have said this book has "heart". Lots of poetry explored in the guise of a school assignment where Serenity starts chapters with a different type and example of poetry and figurative language. Serenity struggles to find a semblance of normality and to keep her younger ...more
Jan 03, 2011 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile
When I first picked up this book I thought it was a juvenile book because of the cover art, but it's a intense read. It's the story of Serenity who is 13 yrs old and the tragic secrets she keeps for her family and friends. My description is fairly mild because going into more detail gives the plot away. It's based in Portland, OR and steeped in Christian faith. The religiousness is a bit much but not necessarily distracting. I really liked it but I would have a hard time recommending it to a tee ...more
The cover of the book suggests that this is just another coming-of-age story. That is not the case - at all! The main character, Serenity, and her family and friends, deal with a host of issues: domestic violence, child abuse, and gang violence. However, Serenity has a moral compass - her faith and her commitment to her grandparents' church. Renee Watson uses language that is poetic and conversational, which allows the reader to easily follow Serenity as she attempts to make the right decisions ...more
Sam Musher
So glad this got a new cover. This looks like upper-elementary sweetness and light, but it deals with some serious trauma. It's warm and engaging, though; I might give it to middle schoolers who need some bibliotherapy around issues of parental death or abuse or generally taking control of their own lives, but I can't imagine any kid who's okay reading about those issues wouldn't be caught up in it. Religion is shown as a strong support through difficult times, with realistic questioning of beli ...more
This book has it all: A story of meaningful suffering that anyone (ten or older) can appreciate with clever poetry and endearing characters. It's about the strength that's there even when you cannot protect yourself, and the strength to speak your truth for the one who taught you to keep secrets. The references to Maya Angelou heighten the wisdom that the protagonist, Serenity, endures to understand and forgive some of the most awful yet typical experiences of a lot of kids. I would love to shar ...more
Jan 02, 2011 Ricki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
Serenity's world is torn apart when her mother dies and her father disappears. She is forced to live with her grandparents, who run a church. Serenity is faced with tough decisions at school, as she lives in a rough neighborhood.

This is a great, honest book for middle schoolers. Watson integrates poetry terms to help the readers learn about poetry while they read. I can see this as a great book for middle school teachers to use while they teach a poetry unit. It gives concrete examples of writin
Linda Jackson
Dec 03, 2010 Linda Jackson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My eleven-year-old daughter read this book first, and she couldn't put it down. She read it within 24 hours. After I began reading it, I saw why she couldn't put it down. The storytelling is wonderful. I really enjoyed this book and the way Ms. Watson tells the truth in her writing. She doesn't hold back. She allows her characters to have tragedy, feel pain, fall in love with the wrong people, make mistakes, etc. This is a great book and I highly recommend it for middle-school kids, boys and gir ...more
Jan 10, 2017 Fletcher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a heavy topic book. It has the subject of domestic abuse, murder, gang activity, drugs, and suicide. It all takes place in Portland, OR ,thru the perspective of a teenage girl with a little brother not much younger than her. They move into there grandparents after the death of there mother and the dad running from the police. No matter the subject this is a great book for 11+ for mature topics but it is a easy read. This book is a instant hook and great story.
Jun 23, 2016 Sas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was totally unprepared for this book. Serenitys childhood was heartbreaking. This is a great book about different families and tweens in Urban Portland, and was much more religious than I was expecting,but suited the story perfectly so I didn't feel like it was being shoved down my throat. The cover makes it look much sweeter than it is, and it ended up being much darker than expected, but I am definitely glad I read it.
Serenity doubts that God listens and loves after her father kills her mother and her brother starts making bad choices. Serenity's loving grandparents, with their strong faith, are her anchor during this tumultuous time. I liked the honest questioning of faith, Serenity's attraction to Jay, the "bad boy," and getting a glimpse into Jay's difficult life. Serenity's decision to intervene and help save her friend from sexual abuse adds another dimension to this poetic, issue-filled story.
The cover on this book is really unfortunate - it makes the book look like it's for 4th or 5th graders when I think the target audience should probably be 7th or 8th graders. Despite the cover, I really liked the book. Definitely some tough issues in the book (murder of a parent, domestic violence, sexual abuse, shoplifting, etc.). There's also a lot about church so it definitely has a Christian bent to the book.
Nov 08, 2010 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids, middle-grade
Too bad the girl on the cover looks so young: this book is really for the upper end of the middle grade spectrum. It deals with some tough issues -- abuse, death of a parent, hustling to get by and more. But it's also about the love between families and friends, and about a girl discovering poetry. Serenity is an amazingly strong and relate-able character who you keep rooting for the whole way through. Super well written, I loved this one.
Kristina Evans
Mar 01, 2013 Kristina Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book because it followed a young teenagers who has lost her mother and her father and her brother is following a life of destructions. She falls for this boy that is setting her brother on these ways but yet she finds herself and The Lord and learn the importance of family and friendships. I suggest that you read this book.
8th grade Serenity has too many secrets. What will happen when she decides that some secrets need to be told? With a little help from her grandparents, her journal and a new best friend, she's about find out. Another strong novel by Watson, for 6th through 8th graders.
Nov 05, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book to introduce tweens to issues of abuse and the loss of parents. It also provided wonderful supportive role models to help the characters through difficult times. This should create good discussions in classrooms as well as with parents or other small groups.
Sep 25, 2010 Nance rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In this story 13 year old Serenity struggles with the reality of her mother's death, was it at the hands of her father? Her life with her grandparents teach her about love and trust and family. Personally, I thought the text was predictable and simplistic.
Oct 28, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile, realistic
Serenity has a whole life full of secrets, most of them hard. Now that she and her brother are living with their grandparents, is there any way for their life to get better? Martine has losts of hard questions which are delt with well in this book of growing up and making choices.
Good book for middle grade readers. There are quite a few heavy themes in it that, though never explicit, could be a lot for some readers. For readers who have experienced similar things, it could be good bibliotherapy.
R. J
Aug 23, 2010 R. J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall this book just didn't grab me the way I thought it would. However, I do think that Serenity's story of how she starts over after loosing her mother would appeal to the author's intended audience.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Baygirl
  • Boy vs. Girl
  • Harry & Hopper
  • Island's End
  • A Wish After Midnight
  • Drew (Changers, #1)
  • The Dead Bird
  • When a Pet Dies (First Experiences)
  • Saving Sky
  • Starcursed
  • Sun & Spoon
  • The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman
  • The Friends
  • I Miss You: a First Look at Death (First Look at Books)
  • My Life as a Rhombus
  • The Steps (Steps, #1)
  • Small Acts of Amazing Courage
  • The Other Half of Me
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
More about Renée Watson...

Share This Book