Where You Belong

Finalist, National Book Awards 1997 for Young People's Literature

ISBN 978-0689812507
Booklocker | Atheneum
Mary Ann McGuigan author photo
Mary Ann McGuigan

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It’s October 11, 1963, in the Bronx, New York. Thirteen-year-old Fiona, her mother, and three siblings have just been evicted from their apartment. Now the family must move in with Aunt Maggie and her six kids. Better to go to Daddy’s place, Fiona’s brother tells her. Better to risk getting beaten than to go someplace you don’t belong.

The beating does come, and Fiona runs away in terror. Alone, hungry, with no choices left, she wanders into the black neighborhood—a place her Irish-American parents talk about with scorn.

Coming here, though, reunites Fiona with an old classmate, Yolanda. They were never able to be real friends at school—a friendship between a black girl and a white girl was rare in the Bronx. But today is going to be different. Two girls who don’t feel they belong anywhere will find a special place to belong—with each other. Can their friendship survive? Together they learn that beyond the bigotry and chaos that adults leave behind lie reasons for hope, and the streets of the Bronx offer a path for a powerful journey of self-discovery.