title: Brown Girl Dreaming
author: Jacqueline Woodson
Date: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin; August 2014
Main Character: Jacqueline Woodson
MIddle Grade Fiction
There are rules to children’s books you know, and Jacqueline Woodson just broke one.
Brown Girl Dreaming is the author’s poetic telling of her childhood and retrospective visits to childhood are supposed to be adult books. Somewhere along when Jackie learned to embrace words and the power they contain, she became entitled to a Poetic License that let this book be produced as a children’s book. Thank goodness!
For me, a Black woman of the same generation who grew up in Ohio with a mother from Mississippi, I quite often found myself pausing and connecting to the story while I daydreamed about my own life. But, this book wasn’t written for me. Will teens relate? Will they find themselves in the spaces Woodson creates when she talks about teeth, not being as smart as, about grandpa’s love and forever friends? I think that they will not only find themselves in these nuances, but they’ll also see how they fit into the larger stories of their family, community and history itself.
In creating a fictional autobiography, Woodson leaves huge spaces that all readers can dive into and find their own meaning. Woodson looks back as adult, but tells the story through the eyes of a child. Her family is her haven whether they’re in New York or South Carolina and even when it looks like things might be going wrong, Jacqueline’s family is perfect in the young girl’s eyes. This girl has a dream to fulfill and we’re going to find out where she gets her strength!
Young Jacqueline is disenchanted with the inaccuracies of memory and the confusion between storytelling and lying.
Keep making up stories, my uncle says.
You’re lying my mother says.
Maybe the truth is somewhere between
all that I’m told
So, Jacqueline decides to give us her own truths in this story of self empowerment.
I’m so glad Woodson broke the rule!
I reviewed an ARC and am looking forward to adding a final copy to my collection as it will also contain photos.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She now writes full-time and has recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her other awards include a Newbery Honor, two Coretta Scott King awards, two National Book Award finalists, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. source