“All Amara wants is to visit her father’s family in Harlem. Her wish comes true when her dad decides to bring her along on a business trip. She can’t wait to finally meet her extended family and stay in the brownstone where her dad grew up. Plus, she wants to visit every landmark from the Apollo to Langston Hughes’s home.
But her family, and even the city, is not quite what Amara thought. Her dad doesn’t speak to her grandpa, and the crowded streets can be suffocating as well as inspiring. But as she learns more and more about Harlem—and her father’s history—Amara realizes how, in some ways more than others, she can connect with this other home and family.”
I read this book for fun and wasn’t planning to write a review but by the time I finished it and realized just how special it was, I knew I had to share a little something about it.
I don’t recall where I first heard about this book only that when I read the synopsis (and when I saw that gorgeous cover) I knew I had to read it.
Amara’s desire to meet and connect with her extended family in Harlem only increases when she is assigned a project at school called the Suitcase Project. The students are to create a time capsule, using old suitcases, with things that represent their life both present and past. It is the perfect opportunity for her to learn more about her family while documenting anything and everything while on her trip. After convincing her mom to let her go on the trip, Amara and her father fly from Portland to New York to spend a week with their family. Amara gets to spend time with and connect with her cousins, see Harlem and New York City up close and personal and most importantly to Amara, help her dad and grandpa get back on good terms after going years without speaking.
I connected so much with Amara’s feelings upon arriving in her grandpa’s home in Harlem. The feeling of visiting family from across the country, where everything feels new but also familiar is one I think many readers will relate to. There were also some struggles between Amara and her cousins which took almost the entire trip to reconcile as the girls, all different ages, had to learn not to be judgmental of one another. I think a lot of readers will relate to the family dynamics aspects of the story. There is definitely a “happy ending” feel and everything comes full circle for Amara by the end of her trip.
This is such a sweet and heartwarming story about family, identity, African American history, growing up, discovering your roots, family dynamics and more, all in less than two hundred pages! Most importantly, this is an Own Voices and Diverse Book and because of that I am confident it will positively impact many readers.
I am officially a Renee Watson fan!
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