28 Days of Literary Blackness With VSB | Day 21: Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Illustration for article titled 28 Days of Literary Blackness With VSB | Day 21: Blended by Sharon M. Draper
Image: Blended (Simon & Schuster

Publisher Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves.


Because of this, Isabella has always felt pulled between two worlds. And now that her parents are divorced, it seems their fights are even worse, and they’re always about HER. Isabella feels even more stuck in the middle, split and divided between them than ever. And she’s is beginning to realize that being split between Mom and Dad is more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. Her dad is black, her mom is white, and strangers are always commenting: “You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?” She knows what they’re really saying: “You don’t look like your parents.” “You’re different.” “What race are you really?” And when her parents, who both get engaged at the same time, get in their biggest fight ever, Isabella doesn’t just feel divided, she feels ripped in two. What does it mean to be half white or half black? To belong to half mom and half dad? And if you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole?

It seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again—until the worst happens. Isabella and Darren are stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.

I bought this book for my 10-year-old daughter for Christmas, unread. I was looking for last-minute stocking stuffers and went to the bookstore and grabbed Blended, among others. From the skim I did, I figured it was about a mixed child. That’s not entirely my daughter’s reality but that’s her father and auntie’s reality so I figured it might be an interesting entry way for conversations. Boy, was this book so much more.

My daughter devoured it. Every morning in the car ride on the way to school she’d tell me more about the story that is actually way more relatable to her than I realized seeing it’s about a little girl whose parents have split and she spends time with them both. My daughter loved the storyline and was very descriptive in how she spoke of the issues present. It even managed to make its way into a discussion about how she splits her time between me and her mother and how she felt about it, and what the book illuminated for her about custody situations. Not to mention the actual attempt to blend families and the fact that it did open up my daughter’s eyes to a bit about mixed-race family dynamics.

I still haven’t read it, but my daughter loves this book and if my kid is all in—I think she read it in a few days; she reads incessantly—then I have to consider that it must be worth the read. She absolutely told me some books weren’t good before so when she gives a glowing review, I take notice. She said she was already a fan of Sharon Draper books (who knew my daughter had favorite authors?) and it made her want all the rest. Looks like we have a winner.


Blended (2018) by Sharon M. Draper

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.