Thursday, August 20, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Cover image for Brown girl dreamingThis is a memoir, in free verse, of the early childhood of the author.  She was born in Ohio, but her parents split up when she was very young and she went to live with her grandparents in South Carolina.  There she was able to see and experience the currents of the Civil Rights Movement first hand.  Then, when she was school age, she moved to New York and learned to be a city girl. It was especially interesting to me because she was born about the same time as I was, so some of the cultural icons she mentions were familiar to me as a girl, Crissy Dolls, The Jackson Five, roller skates.  But at the same time her life was totally different from mine.  I have never been part of a racial minority.  I never felt like people were telling me what I could or could not do or be because of my race. Also, I never had to deal with poverty or divorce.  It is good to get a peek into someone else's life once in a while, to remind ourselves that not all people and not all life experiences are the same. Another interesting theme of the book was that her sister was the bookish "good student", and her brother was a wiz at science, so she felt like the academically untalented one. Yet she was the one who has become famous by winning the Coretta Scott King award, three Newbery honors and many other children's literature awards. This is a good book, but I don't know how many children would love it.  It is more likely to appeal to adults, like me, who can remember growing up in the 60's and early 70's.(336 p.)

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