Friday, December 18, 2015

Book Brief: Brown Girl Dreaming


Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014
337 pages
source: borrowed from the library

One sentence summary: 
This memoir, written in verse, looks back on Woodson's 1960s childhood in Ohio, Greenville, SC, and New York City.

Why did I read this?
A book written in free verse and aimed at a young adult audience would not normally find its way to my nightstand, but many trusted blogging friends recommended Brown Girl Dreaming. It also won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2014.


My thoughts:

So different, and yet so very much the same...

How interesting it was to view the 60s from another child's perspective! Woodson and I are of approximately the same vintage. We enjoyed similar close relationships with extended family, relished meals our grandmothers prepared,  alternately played and fought with our siblings, and even loved the same board games. But, as you can imagine, race figures prominently in the experiences of a "brown girl" living in Greenville, SC, while it was never a factor for a white girl from rural upstate New York... a point poignantly illustrated by the final four lines in the verse entitled...
at the fabric store 
At the fabric store, we are not Colored
or Negro. We are not thieves or shameful
or something to be hidden away.
At the fabric store, we're just people.
Woodson writes engagingly about everything from her family and school, to race and religion (she was raised a Jehovah’s Witness).  An added bonus to my enjoyment of Brown Girl Dreaming  was the unintentional good timing  of reading it shortly after  Between the World and MeWhat a perfect follow-up.

And as it turns out, the free verse was actually very appealing.

Highly recommended.

My rating:





21 comments:

  1. I love books in verse and picked this up when a new indie bookstore opened here. I live in the area Woodson is from so I'm very curious about how it was for her growing up.

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    1. Kathy - I would love to hear you opinion of this book!

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  2. I ordered this one awhile ago, but have yet to read it. From what you've described I think I will definitely enjoy it when I finally pick it up. Great post!!

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    1. Nadia - I loved this book and can see where it could be very important for a YA audience. It was very thought-provoking for me!

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  3. I'm intrigued by this one but not sure. I'm not one for free verse so I'm not sure if it'd really be for me. I have heard some wonderful things about it and am glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Katherine - I'm definitely not one for free verse either and am shocked this worked so well for me! If you borrow it from a library, there's nothing to lose...

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  4. This book sounds very interesting and it gives a valuable perspective on living in the south in the sixties. It would be interesting to compare it with today. Thanks for your great review

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    1. Pat- I really enjoyed the way she wrote about her childhood.

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  5. I'm happy to know you recommend this book. It's been on my list for a while, I'll read it soon.

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    1. Vicki - Every time I enjoy a YA book like this, I think I should read them more often.

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  6. The fact that this is written in verse seems very interesting. I like stories and books that are presented in innovative ways.

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    1. Brian Joseph - I expected to be put off by the verse, but that wasn't the case at all! I'd try this format again.

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  7. I don't read verse but this one feels very readable! So I will have to get hold of it as well. Especially since many readers recommend it.

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    1. Athira - I've only read a book in verse once before. This was such a pleasant surprise!

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  8. This one was one of my favorite books that I read this past year. Loved it and glad you enjoyed it too.

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    1. Bryan - It may end up on my list of favorites this year... I loved it!

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  9. Can't wait to read it. I'm actually surprised I didn't get to it this year, but I could never catch it on the shelves at the university library.

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    1. Andi - I' guessing you'll love it, too!

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  10. I tried to listen to this on audio when I first read all the glowing reviews, but decided it was something I'd rather read in print format. I've only read one other book that is written in verse (The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus), and I loved it, so I'm not concerned about that literary style. I like the idea of pairing it with Between the World and Me, so I'll keep that in mind when I start making my mental reading lists.

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    1. Les - The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus is the only other book in verse I've read, too, and I'm pretty sure it was on your recommendation! Trish made me curious about the audio, so I borrowed it. Preferred reading though. I hope to reread Between the World and Me in 2016... powerful stuff!

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