Brow Beat

The Book That Made Me Feel Like I Belong

An 11-year-old winner of the New York Public Library’s summer reading essay contest on Sharon Draper’s novel Blended.

Blended book cover and a self-portrait of Audrey Hall.
Photo illustration by Slate. Images by Atheneum and Audrey Hall.

Audrey Hall, an 11-year-old Bronx resident, is one of the winners of the New York Public Library’s Summer Reading 2019 Essay Contest. On Wednesday afternoon, she will be honored with other winners on the field at Yankee Stadium for her essay about how reading, and seeing herself in, Sharon Draper’s novel Blended “expanded her universe.”

I’m Audrey. This was my essay for the New York Public Library’s summer reading essay contest. I would recommend all kids visit the library, get library cards, and find the books that could change their lives. Books and reading can do that. There is something there for you, and the librarians can help you find it. And it’s free! There are a lot of ways to spend time. Reading is my favorite. It’s important and really matters. Give it a try.

"This is me" by Audrey Hall, 11 years old. Allerton Library, 2740 Barnes Avenue, Bronx, NY.
Self-portrait of Audrey Hall.
It was almost my birthday and my mom took me to a book store. My mom noticed a book and thought that it would be a good read for me. The day after I went to the Allerton Library near my house and checked it out. “Blended” by Sharon M. Draper became one of my favorite books. In the book, Isabella is learning how to live with divorced parents and being a mixed girl, just like me!! Every week Isabella has to change houses. Sometimes I have to go to my dad’s house on the weekends too. In the text it states: “Every Monday I wake up in a different bed
than the week before,” and it also said: “Some judge who had never even met me split me in half.” It’s not easy for me or Isabella because we can never say “I am going home.” It is not fair that I have to switch houses. All this traveling takes away time with my friends. Sometimes I wonder what it is like to have a “regular family.” Isabella’s mom is white and her dad is black. Guess what? My mom is also white and my dad is black too that makes me multiracial or mixed. In the book it stated on page 39: “But the world can not see the inside of a person. What
the world can see is color.” On page 90 it also said: “Do you think people think I am Black or White when they see me? Am I Black? Or White?” Isabella is trying to figure out who she is as a person. When I have to apply for a job or have paper work I guess I am going to have to check the “Other Box” for my Ethnic Identification. Sometimes I wish they could find a better word to describe people like me. My name is Audrey and I am going to be just like the main character of the book. This story expanded my universe because it helped me realize that there are other kids just like me who have
divorced parents or are multiracial. This book made me feel like I belong. Since I am multiracial I am like a melting pot. I am a true New Yorker born in the Bronx, Italian from my mom’s side of my family and Jamaican from my dad’s side of my family. Like Isabella from the book my hair is curly, crazy and uncontrollable! This book helped me accept who I am as a person and learn to become the bet Audrey I can be. I would recommend this book to kids just like me that are facing the same challenges, to go to the Library and check out
“Blended” by Sharon M. Draper! It will change who you are, it did it for me.
Audrey Hall
Blended book cover.