Date Published: October 30, 2018
Book Author: Sharon M. Draper
Summary reviewed by:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), University Of California, Santa Barbara 2019
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You won't believe the intricate dance of love, family, and identity that unfolds in this gripping tale. "Blended" by Sharon M. Draper unfolds in the contemporary settings of Cincinnati and Atlanta, bridging two worlds that eleven-year-old Isabella must navigate. Born of a black mother and a white father, Isabella's life is a symphony of contrasts. From the weekdays with her father in a posh Cincinnati neighborhood to weekends with her mother in bustling Atlanta, she learns the nuances of racial identity, societal norms, and family dynamics. Amidst the backdrop of piano lessons and the ebb and flow of friendships, Isabella must grapple with her parents' bitter divorce and her own self-worth. As racial tensions rise in her community and a terrifying event threatens to shatter her world, Isabella's journey to find her voice and define her identity takes center stage. With Draper's hallmark intensity, readers are drawn into a whirlwind of emotion, resilience, and the beauty of blended lives.
Spoilers (click here to reveal spoilers)
As Isabella's world spirals, a traumatic racial profiling incident occurs involving her stepbrother Darren, deepening her understanding of the stark realities of race in America. This heart-wrenching event forces both her families to come together, realizing that unity is essential in a divided world. In the midst of this turmoil, Isabella finds strength in her blended identity. Instead of being torn between two worlds, she learns to draw from the richness of both, forging a path of understanding and harmony.
Social and Family Issues
Isabella: A mixed-race eleven-year-old grappling with her identity. Her strength is resilience, showcased when she stands tall despite the challenges of navigating two worlds post-divorce.
Mom (Christina): Isabella’s black mother, a successful professional in Atlanta. She values independence, evident as she rebuilds her life after her divorce.
Dad (David): Isabella’s white father, a businessman in Cincinnati. He upholds the importance of discipline, reflected in his structured approach to parenting.
Darren: Isabella’s stepbrother, whose encounter with racial profiling shakes the family. He embodies courage, facing adversity head-on despite the odds.
Identity & Self-Discovery: Throughout the book, Isabella’s quest to understand her racial and family identity is a pivotal theme. This is showcased through her internal debates on which surname to use.
Family Dynamics: The contrasting worlds of her mother and father depict the complexities of modern families. The alternating weekends illustrate the challenge and beauty of navigating split families.
Racial Tensions: Through events like Darren’s racial profiling incident, Draper emphasizes the profound implications of racial perceptions in society.
Unity & Blending: The story underscores the idea that harmony and understanding can be achieved in blended families and communities. This is evident when both sides of Isabella’s family unite after the traumatic event.
Resilience: Isabella’s journey of navigating change, from her parents’ divorce to understanding her identity, highlights the theme of resilience in the face of adversity. Her piano recitals serve as a metaphor for this journey.