The close relationship of a pair of biracial twins is tested when their grandmother enters them in a pageant for African American girls in this new story from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner Sundee T. Frazier.
When Minerva and Keira King were born, they made headlines: Keira is black like Mama, but Minni is white like Daddy. Together the family might look like part of a chessboard row, but they are first and foremost the close-knit Kings. Then Grandmother Johnson calls, to invite the twins down South to compete for the title of Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America.
Minni dreads the spotlight, but Keira assures her that together they'll get through their stay with Grandmother Johnson. But when grandmother's bias against Keira reveals itself, Keira pulls away from her twin. Minni has always believed that no matter how different she and Keira are, they share a deep bond of the heart. Now she'll find out the truth.
From the Hardcover edition.
Mama was always pointing out that of the millions of genes that made them all human, only seven or eight told their skin what color to be. A minuscule number, she said. A very small difference.
So that was what Minni chose to believe, even though somewhere deep inside her brain, in a little drawer she rarely let herself open, lived the concern that the difference she'd been assured didn't matter actually mattered a lot.
She squeezed her sister's hand and made an early birthday wish: May nothing ever, ever come between Keira and me. Nothing—big or small. From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee T. Frazier. Copyright © 2010 by Sundee T. Frazier. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Sundee T. Frazier
In the fall of 2006, I was searching for a story idea when my editor shared a news item with me. Babies born to a mixed-race couple were getting press around the world because one was "black" and the other "white."
My editor wondered aloud what these girls' lives might be like when they were ten. The question caught my attention, and Minni and Keira King were born.
In a way, Minni and Keira represent the dual nature of my own heart, personality, and experience. But the girls also represent "sisters" everywhere – struggling to maintain solidarity in the face of a myriad of modern-day pressures.
The seed of the story idea came from a news article about actual twins, but of course The Other Half of My Heart was drawn completely from my own psyche and experience.
Questions of race and racial definitions have always been a part my life, from the first time an adult told me to check "black" on a school form because my father was black, to the surprised looks I get from people just discovering the truth behind my tan complexion.
As a biracial African-American who has often been mistaken as white, and as a biracial African-American who was often the only kid of color in her classes (albeit a light tan color!), I drew from both sides of my experience to create Minni's and Keira's characters.
Writing this story reinforced for me the truth that when it comes to standing up for what's right, or having a beautiful heart, it doesn't matter what color your skin is. Sisters (and brothers) come in all colors.
Sundee T. Frazier is also the author of Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It, for which she received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. As a teen, she was crowned Miss Palouse Empire and was first runner-up in the Washington State Junior Miss Program (not pageant). Learn more about her and her books at www.sundeefrazier.com.
"Funny and deeply affecting, this novel by the Steptoe Award winner for Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It (2007) revisits the still largely unexplored world of multiracial heritage...Frazier highlights the contradictions, absurdities, humor and pain that accompany life as a mixed-race tween. Never didactic, this is the richest portrait of multiracial identity and family since Virginia Hamilton's 1976 novel Arilla Sun Down. An outstanding achievement."
-Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A novel with a great deal of heart indeed..."
- Booklist, starred review
From the Hardcover edition.