So this is the week I thank all of you, my fellow Cannonballers, for having such fabulous taste in books. Without all of you, I definitely would not have found some of my favorite books of the year so far! This review requires thanking yesknopemaybe for reviewing the incredible Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Gracias.
So this is the mostly autobiographical story of Ms. Woodson told from birth till probably ten to eleven. What makes it so special is that it’s told in free verse poetry, and as a non-poetry person I was a little hesitant. And when I say non-poetry I mean, besides Shakespeare, I haven’t read poetry since I had to in high school. I can do the basic pull out the symbolism, but really zero interest. Here though, it helps build the world Ms. Woodson was living in, and especially her dream from a very early age of being a writer.
Ms. Woodson was born in 1963 in Ohio, but quickly was moved by her mother to South Carolina. From there she went to Brooklyn, but often went back to the south, and hearing her stories of rural South Carolina in the 1960’s, instead of from a history book was fascinating and heartbreaking. What I loved most about this book, compared to other autobiographical stories you read, is the continuing theme of Jacqueline being loved by everyone around her. It was wonderful to read about a young girl being so loved and supported by all her family. That doesn’t happen as often as I’d like in books (and real life).
I think this is an important book to read, and I definitely plan on having a copy waiting for when Little Beth Ellen (yes, still not born yet, but soon and I’m a planner) is old enough to read, and hopefully understand what a different world we live in from not all that long ago. So yes, it’s poetry, and it’s for middle readers, but do all yourselves a favor and read this one. Immerse yourself for a few hours in a world that should not be forgotten.