Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
While reading this, I kept thinking about how unfortunate it is that Lemony Snicket ever made his ridiculous watermelon joke... because whenever this amazing book comes up in the collective conversation, the focus wont be on Woodson's simple and elegant verse, or her ability to invoke emotion in very few words. Instead, people will speak about Daniel Handler's joke and the subsequent backlash. Which, while making Woodson's point in this book, takes away from the incredible work of literature found within this gorgeously designed cover. Once you read this book, you'll realize just what a crime that fact is.
There is no doubt in my mind as to why this won The National Book Award... or why Woodson herself has received three other Newberry Honor awards. Her message in Brown Girl Dreaming is serious, but one that she doesn't make with heavy-handed morality. She is inviting us to sit on her grandparent's porch in Nicholtown as she tells of her childhood and the those of the generations before her. The style Woodson uses is what future classics are made of and I would not be surprised to see this taught in AP classes right alongside Morrison and Walker.
Recently I've noticed that I'm finding more time to read. And works like Brown Girl Dreaming are the kind of books that inspire me to prioritize that time. Thank you for a lovely Sunday night, Ms. Woodson!
Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.