Book Review: Nissa’s Place by A. LaFaye

Nissa's Place imageEver since her mama left home two years before, Nyssa’s been adjusting to new situations. Not being with her mama all the time, getting to know her papa’s new wife, ignoring the comments of gossipy people in her small Louisiana town. She’s no longer sure how she fits into it all.

When her mama swoops in to take her off to live for a while in Chicago, Nissa experiences the joys and pitfalls of city life for the first time. She sees more clearly the deprivations brought on by the Depression, and she understands that she’ll probably never live in the same city with both her parents again.

Nissa is torn between what she truly wants for herself. Then, while visiting a library in Chicago, she finds inspiration for creating something new that will help her finally figure out where she wants to call home.

Nissa’s Place by A. LaFaye is richly evocative of the time it’s set in. It’s a time when women didn’t wear pants or speak up too much, blacks and whites had separate schools, restaurants and water fountains, and  divorce was rare. Country life and city life were worlds apart.

Nissa’s papa is wise and patient, her mama impulsive and creative. From both of them she learns how to find the talents inside herself that will help her be at peace with whatever path she takes. She knows she is deeply loved by them both. Mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 to 16 should find lots to talk about after reading Nissa’s Place is set in. Issues to discuss include women’s roles in the 1930s, segregation, doing what you think is right even if it may be unpopular, putting yourself at personal risk to do what’s right, finding your personal strengths, divorced parents, and more. I highly recommend it.

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