This Side of Home

We all want to see our communities flourish. With Oregon’s growth and change in population, the impacts of development can seem like improvement to some residents yet negatively affect others. This piece of young adult fiction by award-winning Oregon author, Renee Watson, tells the story of twin sisters navigating such circumstances in their neighborhood. Maya and Nikki used to agree on almost everything but find themselves disagreeing about the path to progress for their community. One sister is deeply passionate about her community and its history. The other champions all that is new and changing. Watson masterfully allows the reader to experience the conflict through her writing and come to their own conclusions.

352 pages. ©2017.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted December 6, 2022


Even though I'm an adult, I enjoyed this quick read about teens in Portland. The main takeaway I had was a feeling about how unfair it is to be a minority. I wanted to give the well-meaning principal a shake. He acts a bit self-righteous but doesn't hesitate to help a student cheat.

Gwendalynn Carleson Gamble

Review posted November 1, 2022


Like the characters in this book I grew up in NE Portland and attended a racially diverse public high school. I really enjoyed reading the journey that Nikki and Maya took through their Senior year. I would like to think middle school through high school students could relate to the story. I am actually passing it on to a young reader who I think will enjoy the story. It address so many social issues that confront intercity life. I was surprised to learn some bits of history that are not often shared or are common knowledge. I would like to think this book could be a spring board to great conversations and discussions.


Review posted October 3, 2022


Renee Watson does it again! I love reading Watson's young adult fiction novels, and this one was a true delight. It's especially fun to be an Oregonian and read a novel set in Portland - lots of familiar territory in this book. This is about twin sisters coming of age. As in many twin stories, the girls have been inseparable but as they get older, their interests diverge. There's definite bittersweet here as the young women find their own individual identities and mourn their passing childhood. I loved it and highly recommend it.

Toby Abraham-Rhine

Review posted August 21, 2022


This book is excellent for adolescents, adults who care about adolescents and even for my fifth graders and middle schoolers. Renee Watson writes with a genuine voice and clearly understands the hearts and minds of young people on the cusp of that next step in life (graduation from high school). More importantly, this wonderful page turner gives the reader a front seat to the pain, frustrations and the on-going racial oppression of our students of color. It is honest and moving and maddening all at once to see that racial discrimination is still so embedded into society, even in a city as seemingly aware and diverse as Portland, OR. I want to read more by Ms. Watson. She is brilliant.


Review posted August 3, 2022


Perfect for my middle school students—characters and stories they can connect with and see themselves in!


Review posted April 11, 2022


Such a lovely and empowering book. I absolutely loved this read!


Review posted March 22, 2022




Review posted February 10, 2022


First of all, I love that this author is from Portland! It makes it so much more of an experience to the reader if you can picture where things are taking place. This book brings up a lot of relevant issues of today: gentrification, alcohol abuse, difficulties in schools, etc. I really enjoyed the book; how it was written, what it was written about, and the characters. Definitely recommend the read!


Review posted February 9, 2022


This is such a cute book. I love all her work, so real and it hits home

Melissa Smith-Hohnstein

Review posted January 17, 2022


This is my favorite book of Renee Watson I have read so far. I was brought to tears a couple times I found it very relevant and timely. I think the content is for mature teens and young adults but I also would recommend it to some of our parents who have adopted transracially. I loved it!


Review posted November 16, 2021


Being from Portland I really appreciated the book and all the Portland references. I thought it was a beautiful story that included very real experiences of growing up in a white city as a black person and what it is like to watch your city/ neighborhood become gentrified. I like that there are moments of history mentioned and very real social experiences and feelings throughout the book. Beautifully written and great character development.