I am always on the look out for books that my oldest daughter can read that involve multiracial protagonists and/or viewpoints that she can identify with from a Blended family perspective. They are hard to find, but not impossible. This past fall I discovered my new favorite book, involving all of the above. The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee T. Frazier is a joy to read. Narrated by Minnie, a twin who on the outside appears more white than her sister Keira who has more black features, it is a tale of self discovery and developing racial identity.
A recent school project brought the topic of being multiracial to the forefront. My daughter’s 3rd grade class was asked to share about their ethnicity. She came home excited about this as her Chinese friend was going to bring dumplings and talk about cuisine, her Syrian friend was bringing his Menorah, her Thai friend was bringing pad thai and talking about the history of the dish, etc. But when she sat down to talk with me about what she could share, she emphasized that she could only be ONE thing for the class project. It proved to be a difficult moment for my daughter as we talked through that she is NOT one ethnicity, but several and each is an equal and important part to who she is and her life story – she should never feel as though she has to choose who she is. In the end, we arrived at a good compromise for her sharing time, introducing herself as multiethnic, talking about what that meant to her, and then articulating that she is choosing to share only one piece of her ethnicity that day. In the end she was happy as she shared about being Jamaican and then taught them a brief history of Reggae (albeit her favorite part came when they rocked out to Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds).
This is why finding books like Frazier’s are so important to my child and to our family library. My daughter will resonate with Minnie who at times doesn’t ‘fit in’ to a certain ethnic look or role and so feels on the outside of that community. Key to her ethnic development is processing what it means to be multiracial – in its wholeness. Key to my other children, when they are old enough to read Frazier’s book, is the theme of a family looking different and those around them wondering if they truly belong together. For so many reasons, The Other Half of My Heart connects to a Blended family’s core issues and identities.
I wholeheartedly look forward to my oldest reading this and having a long cup of hot chocolate while we digest the issues Frazier brings to life though her writing. If you have a young girl heading into tween-hood, I absolutely recommend this read to you.
For those of you interested in adding this book to your personal library click here.