Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
on August 20, 2012
While I liked the overall spirit and wisdom of the book, there were little details that were too off-putting to ignore. The relationship between the twins was realistic and touching. The handling of each twin's unique position was also well done. However,a pagent? Really? There was no other format to explore these themes of identity, acceptance, family bonds, etc? Eleven year olds in pagents? Really? If their mother was such a strong black woman, she would never have allowed such a thing to happen.
The twins travel to Raleigh, NC to visit their black grandmother who has entered them in the Miss Black Pearl pagent. The author's negative description of Raleigh was rather a shock. Raleigh is a beautiful, historical, gem of the south. The girls' disrespectful attitude toward their grandmother was not amusing. When they put something in her food that could potentially be harmful, that was going too far. I would never use a book where the characters thought that was a cute prank. Plus, I can't imagine doing that to my grandmother no matter what I thought of her.
There is the part where the announcer welcomes everyone to the 9th annual pagent. The girls' mother was in the pagent when she was a girl, and she's in her 30's, so how could it be the 9th pagent?
The grandmother's grandmother lived in Durham and worked as a housekeeper in Raleigh. The book mentions it's a 30 minute bus ride. Most unlikely. It was all those little details that kept me from thinking the book was outstanding. Those details should have been picked up on by an editor.
There are a lot of authors using 11 year olds. As a middle school teacher for many years, I strongly doubt that 11 year olds could do all of this or have the experiences these girls have had. The book would have been much more believable had the girls been 12 or 13.
Several historical black figures such as Bessie Coleman and Madame C.J. Walker were mentioned. It would have been a good idea to include details about those people at the end of the book. This book has potential, but it wasn't met.
I would recommend this book to girls as a good read, but I would want to discuss it with them when they finished.