Book Review: Like Sisters on the Homefront

Like Sisters on the Homefront by Rita Williams-Garcia

SUMMARY: At 14, Gayle is pregnant. Again. The first time she kept the baby. This time her mother drags Gayle to have an abortion and then sends her away from the projects in Jamaica, New York, on a one-way ticket to family in Georgia. For Gayle, it's like being "sold to slavery." She's never met her mother's family, and they don't particularly want her in their big mansion. Her uncle is a pastor; her sweet teenage cousin, Cookie, looks as if she's "straight out of Mommy-Made-Me magazine." Gayle shocks them with her street talk, her cussing, and her free and unrepentant talk of sex. Only her great-grandmother, a soul mate, loves Gayle's spirit, laughs at her irreverence, and tells Gayle the family history of slavery, protest, and faith. (from the Booklist review)

OPINION: When Gayle, street-smart and sassy teen, moves in with her uncle and his straight-laced family, you know sparks will fly. The book is a collision of culture and class issues, all taking place in the same African-American family. Wealth, religion, sexuality, geography, and education all work to separate the family members. Cousins Cookie and Gayle begin to cross the boundaries between them and form an uneasy relationship through the summer. My favorite character in this book, however, is Great, Gayle's great grandmother. She is definitely a spunky old person, and as much of a rebel as Gayle, even though she is physically helpless. She tells Gayle the family secrets that she has been withholding from the others for years! This book is excellent realistic fiction, and I wish there was a sequel.

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