This book was such a masterpiece! I read it in one sitting, completely addicted! It was such a poignant, heart-warming and beautifully written story exploring the past and the present, relationships and life forming decisions, all spun together into an intricate web.
The story starts in 2001 at the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone, but from there Jacqueline Woodson takes us both forward and backward in time to uncover the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of the present family members.
Each person got to tell their story in a chapter each, which was such a brilliant way to tell the story from different perspectives. It was so impressive how Jacqueline Woodson managed to flesh out all of the characters in just those few pages! She really made them authentic and lovable people with emotions, fear and love, explaining the backgrounds and decisions that made them arrive at this very moment and the tolls they’d paid for it.
Even though it’s quite a short book, there were so many themes and issued covered; from race and class, to identity, love, loss, life and death. It shows how the past keeps continuing to form the present due to family history, but also due to historical events such as the 1921 Tulsa massacres. But the beautiful poetic writing style never made it feel crowded, every word in this book was there for a reason and most of the past events were hinted at rather than lengthy described.
All in all, this coming-of-age, inter-generational black family drama is simply magnificent! A poignantly painted picture of tragedy and hope, heartbreak and joy, and how the decisions we make at a young age can define us forever. I cannot recommend it enough!
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Brown Girl Dreaming is a beautiful memoir of Jacqueline Woodson’s upbringing in South Carolina and Brooklyn written in verse. The entire book flows in dreamy poetry as she describes how growing up African American in the 60s and 70s in the US wasn’t always easy, but how she finds happiness in writing and starts to figure out her place in the world.
“How can I explain to anyone that stories are like air to me, I breathe them in and let them out over and over again.”
This is one of the first books I’ve read that’s been written in verse, but I loved it immediately. The writing style was perfect for this story. Each poem was like a snapshot of a moment from Jacqueline Woodson’s past, like an extracted memory stored in a bottle and revealed like the silvery, hair-like wisps in Albus Dumbledore’s Pensieve, but read together, the poems created a complete, vivid and intimate description of her childhood that made this book so incredible, emotional and heart-warming.
Growing up, Jacqueline Woodson’s time was divided amongst Ohio, South Carolina, and later, New York (Brooklyn). Each area provided a different experience and a vastly different culture, which made this book such a rich description of the growth of the civil rights movement across a variety of social settings and geographic locales. Through her eyes as a child, noticing how the adults walked, talked and dreamed, she manages to make the subtle differences in the South versus the North clear without having to point it out explicitly to us readers.
“Even the silence has a story to tell you.
Just listen. Listen.”
It wasn’t until after I finished it and was about to write my review that I realized that this book is rated middle grade. It is absolutely well accessible for middle grade readers, but I can guarantee that adult readers will enjoy this wonderful, evocative and impactful story just as much.
Overall, this was a very moving and thought-provoking story that raised awareness and provided so much insight to really important and difficult topics, while also being joyful, beautiful and easy to read. I recommend it with all my heart to readers of any age!
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Ban Gilmartin Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Courtney Kae Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Dallas Smith Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton D.N. Bryn Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E.L. Massey E. Lockhart Emery Lee Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens F.T. Lukens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hannah Grace Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving H.S. Valley Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson James L. Sutter Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jen Bailey Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kathy Anderson KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Lauren Shippen Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nathaniel Shea Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Nyla K. Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Racquel Marie Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Taylor Jenkins Reid Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Tracy Deonn Tucker Shaw Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez