Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis, a Coretta Scott King Honor Winner, is the story of a journey of trust.
Fifteen-year-old Dess—white, rebellious, defensive—who long ago learned that she had to depend on herself has accepted the necessity of becoming a foster child. Not that she couldn’t make it on her own, but this foster family also cares for her half brother Austin (age four) whom she hasn’t seen for three years. She will do anything for him.
Fifteen-year-old Hope—African-American, a compliant kid most of the time who wants to please—accepts that the foster kids in her home have had it rough. She should be kind. Until she meets Dess. It’s awfully hard to be kind to Dess.
.Hope doesn’t realize the terror that follows Dess in the form of a criminal birth father. Dess doesn’t understand that some people are trustworthy. Like Hope and her parents.
In spite of the initial antagonism, both girls gain compassion for one another as each sees the neediness in the other.
The author gets her characters’ voices just right. Real teens with all their flaws and their idealism. Since Davis grew up in a family who truly cared for their foster children, it’s no wonder that both Hope and Dess seem like real people. And Davis would understand that not all foster homes were as loving as hers was, which allows Dess to be a totally sympathetic character.
What cons? Peas and Carrots is one of those books that I couldn’t put down, not even to make supper!
- If Dess were the new kid in your school, what would be your first impression?
- If Hope attended your school, do you think you would be her friend? Why or why not?
- How did Dess use her talents?
- Why was Dess willing to throw away her happiness near the end of the book?
If you haven’t read Peas and Carrots, do it. Dess and Hope teach us the pithy truth about families—their flaws and their beauty.