MFA Faculty member Renée Watson’s novel Piecing Me Together wins the Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honor!

Contact: Beth Grosart Little, Assistant Director; (617) 731-7697

[Chestnut Hill, MA, February 20, 2018] The Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College is thrilled to announce MFA faculty member Renée Watson’s novel for young adults, Piecing Me Together (published by Bloomsbury), has won the 2018 Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honor. In addition, Watson has a new book out with Illyasah Shabazz called Betty Before X which tells of Betty Shabazz’s formative years before meeting and marrying Malcolm X.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood. The Newbery Medal is given for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature.

Piecing Me Together

“Watson, with rhythm and style, somehow gets at the toxicity of sympathy, the unquenchable thirst of fear, and the life-changing power of voice and opportunity, all wrapped up in Jade--the coolest young lady in the world. Or at least, in Portland, Oregon. Simply, Piecing Me Together is a book you'll want to hug!” – Jason Reynolds, award-winning coauthor of All American Boys

Timely and timeless, Piecing Me Together is a book about the ways young people deal with the hardships and heartbreak of everyday living while remaining whole and true to themselves. There is a little bit of Jade in all of us. As she and the rest of Watson's characters jumped off the page and into my heart, I found myself again and again, remembering this.” –Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming

Betty Before X

Solstice is also excited to announce Renée Watson has a new middle-grade book out, Betty Before X, about the woman who would become Dr. Betty Shabazz, written with Betty’s daughter, Illyasah Shabazz.

"...this moving fictional account of the early life of the late civil rights leader and widow of Malcolm X draws on the recollections of family and friends. The result is a heart-rending imagining of Shabazz's personal challenges as well as a rare, intimate look at the complex roots of the American civil rights movement. A personal, political and powerful imagining of the early life of the late activist." —Kirkus starred review 

"Elegant in its humanity, wholly moving, and deeply indelible for a new generation of dreamers and seekers."
 -Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor and author of One Crazy Summer

"Today is a time when fearless and uncompromising leadership is needed, and this story answers the call. It should be an inspiration and playbook to all women today, both young and old, who, like Betty, are paving their own path of strength." -Congresswoman Maxine Waters


As an undergraduate institution consistently ranked among the most diverse in the country, Pine Manor College emphasizes an inclusive, community-building approach to liberal arts education. The Solstice MFA in Creative Writing reflects the College’s overall mission by creating a supportive, welcoming environment in which writers of all backgrounds are encouraged to take creative risks. We strive to instill in our students an appreciation for the value of community-building and community service, and see engagement with the literary arts not only as a means to personal fulfillment but also as an instrument for real cultural change.