brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson #diversiverse

20660824brown girl dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson
338 pages
Published in August 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Source: Public Library

The first time I write my full name

Jacqueline Amanda Woodson

without anybody’s help
on a clean white page in my composition notebook,
I know

if I wanted to

I could write anything.

brown girl dreaming is Jacqueline Woodson’s wonderful and poetic memoir about her “very complicated and very rich” childhood. Shortly after her birth in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, Woodson’s family moves to South Carolina, her mother’s home state. The author and her two siblings live with their maternal grandparents for years as their mother travel back and forth to New York, trying to make a life for them. It’s there in the South that Saturday nights “smell of biscuits”, Jacqueline gets her hands dirty in her grandfather’s garden, and sit-ins are happening downtown. In New York, rainy days now mean staying in the house and being introduced to a new baby brother. Written in verse, brown girl dreaming is a book that both young readers and adults can enjoy.

There are many things that make brown girl dreaming so special that it’s hard to even write about it. Woodson has this wonderful way of writing from a child’s point of view. Readers see a young Jacqueline fall in love with stories even though she struggles with writing and is compared to a brilliant older sister by teachers. Thrown in with these moments are the huge events that were going on in the country like the end of segregation and what that meant as she and her grandmother shopped downtown, watching the Black Panther Party on TV from across the country, and the Vietnam War.

brown girl dreaming was just nominated for a National Book Award in Young Adult Literature, a nomination it rightly deserves. You won’t regret reading it, so buy this book, don’t borrow it. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.


About Vasilly

Mother, daughter, sister, college student, bookworm, lover of chocolate and coffee.
This entry was posted in book reviews, memoirs, nonfiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson #diversiverse

  1. Jeanne says:

    I think the form–short, free verse poems–helps her recapture the immediacy of the child’s point of view, in the early sections.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    I love memoirs and stories written in verse so this sounds perfect for me.

  3. Heather says:

    I’m sorry to say, I don’t usually like poetry, but this sounds wonderful. I have yet to read Woodson, another thing I’m sorry to say. Where should I start? Is here a good place?

  4. dastevensish says:

    Sounds like wise advice–shall add this one to my Christmas wish list so I can have my very own copy. Hmmm…or maybe I can’t wait that long, huh?

  5. Eva says:

    I love her fiction, but I didn’t realise she’d written a memoir too! How interesting that it’s a poem memoir. Hmmm.

  6. Kristen M. says:

    I will definitely get this onto my reading list.

  7. rivercityreading says:

    I’m finding that I have a hard time coming up with the words to describe this book, too. I just want to keep a stack of it and hand it out to everyone!

  8. I’ve heard such wonderful things about this book. Glad to read your thoughts on it as well. I really need to get a copy.

  9. bybee says:

    I have a book by Woodson that I haven’t read yet. Don’t remember the title (it’s at home, I’m at work). This memoir looks wonderful.

  10. Heather says:

    We just got this in at our library last week–I’m looking forward to reading it.

  11. Beth F says:

    This is on my list! You’ve convinced me to make sure I really read it.

  12. This is on my list, too. I have become a fan of the lyrical verse in books.

  13. Trish says:

    Sounds absolutely fantastic and the cover is just gorgeous. I just started Woman Hollering Creek and I’m loving the lyrical prose style–it’s been a long time since I’ve read something less straight forward. Forgot how beautiful it can be!

  14. Athira says:

    I remember seeing this book somewhere recently, but I don’t recollect where. I love the title and the cover so the book is also on my wishlist. Glad to see that you recommend it!

  15. Sounds great, even though I am not usually a novels-in-poetry kind of gal. I read an interview with Woodson where she said a librarian took her to task for naming it “brown girl dreaming,” because that meant white girls wouldn’t want to read it. Yeesh. Not surprising, but very ugh.

    • Vasilly says:

      Ack! Comments like that are so frustrating! I bet if the book had been named “white girl dreaming,” that same librarian wouldn’t have complained or wondered if non-whites would read it. Ugh.


  16. olduvai says:

    Ok have to go get this one! Thanks for the review!

  17. aartichapati says:

    Sorry it has taken me so long to get to this review, Natasha! It sounds like a great book, even though I am a little nervous about novels in verse. (Though I enjoyed Make Lemonade, which was in verse. I didn’t even realize it, since I read it as an audiobook.)

    Jenny’s comment from the librarian is so annoying! Ugh. As though people CANNOT read about other people’s lives! Also, no one would call the book “white girl dreaming.” They’d just call it “Girl Dreaming” and everyone would assume she was white.

  18. Trisha says:

    This sounds unique, and I have been missing unique in my reading.

  19. I already wanted to read this, but now even more, and I’m adding Locomotion to my list too. Thanks.

  20. Pingback: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson - The Reading DateThe Reading Date

Comments are closed.