title: Finding My Place
author: Traci L. Jones
date: Farrar Straux Giroux, 2010
main character: Tiphanie Baker
The year is 1975 and Tiphanie Baker’s parents have made it: they’ve achieved a level of success that allows them to afford a nice home and a nice school which happen to be outside the Black community where Tiphanie has spent her entire life. Her parents promise to help her keep in touch with her friends but even Tiphanie knows that will be difficult. Mr. and Mrs. Baker support their daughter by requiring the best of her because like Black parents of that generation, their mantra is ‘be twice as good’. The thing is, they’re out of touch with their daughter’s issues. While they cling to the civil rights issues they fought to over come, Tiphanie struggles to know who she is and how she belongs in world where everyone is White.
Jones handles what could be overwhelming issues with a deft hand. By focusing her story on its main character, we’re able to understand the complexities behind Tiphanie’s thoughts and actions. Situations are presented in ways that readers of any race will find something to relate to, struggle with and enjoy. Tiphanie isn’t out to change the world, simply to find her place in it.
Her friendship with Jackie Sue led the story to transcend racial issues and explore what it means to be a friend. Tiphanie is so self centered, that she either doesn’t see or ignores the fact that her friend, her only friend at this point, has serious problems. Poorly developed situations results in the character seeming weak.
As a member of the class of 1975, I enjoyed the many references to that era. I didn’t realize how much kinder and gentler we were at that time. This change in setting gives young readers a nice change in reading materials.
Finding My Place contains no profanity, sex, drugs or alcohol ; some violence