Title: The Other Half of My Heart
Author: Sundee T. Frazier
ISBN: 9780385734400
Pages: 296 pages
Publisher/Date: Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., c2010.

The location of their birth got them on the evening news all across the country, but what got just as much attention, if not more, was something else.
Something they’d been told all their lives didn’t really mean anything.
Same Mama and Daddy. Born seven minutes apart in the back of their daddy’s plane.
But Keira, with her dark curly hair and cinnamon-brown skin, was black, like their mama, while Minni, with her reddish blond hair and milky pale skin, was white, like their daddy. At least that was what the articles on the Internet said.
One-in-a-million twins. […]
She asked Mama once, “Am I just white? Or am I black, too?” because when she looked at her pale skin next to her sister’s nad Mama’s rich brown, it sure was hard to see how she could be called black.
“Of course you are,” Mama said, not really answering her question. (6-7)

It’s hard to believe that Minerva (also known as Minni) and Keira King are sisters, much less twin sisters. With a white father and an African-American mother, Minni takes after her father, while Keira takes after her mother. Although they don’t like the stares or questions they receive from strangers, they have come to accept their chessboard family. This peace is shattered when their Southern grandmother enrolls them in the Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America pageant. While the other contestants are questioning whether Minni is black enough to participate, Minni’s lighter skin is admired by her grandmother, which further ostracize the girls from each other. Minni’s left wondering if this is how Keira feels all the time in their primarily white neighborhood, while Keira maintains that Minni can’t possibly understand what it’s like. Can the girls come to grips with their own unique beauty?

The Other Half of my Heart by Sundee T. Frazier will warm both sides of your heart and make you question what it really means to say “beauty is only skin deep”. The emotions are palpable as Minni and Keira try to understand the other one’s position. That’s the amazing thing about this book, is that neither girl wants sympathy, they just want people to recognize and acknowledge that they might be feeling these emotions. Their inability to express themselves and accept the other’s empathy leads to misunderstandings that get patched up at the end, but I wonder if there were any lasting effects due to their realization of their differences. It’s surprising of their naivety regarding their differences before the pageant.

I’m a little concerned however, because the emphasis is so squarely placed on the girls identifying with their African-American culture/heritage/tradition. What about their white half? I can only imagine how the girls’ father must feel about the twins exclusively pursuing their blackness with such intent. Why must they choose black, instead of assuming a bi-racial identity? Maybe it’s just because I’m white, but I don’t say my family is only from one country. If someone asks what I am, I mention the countries that both sides of the family originated from. I thought bi-racial people would do the same. That’s really my one qualm about the book.

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