Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014
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.
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 ColoredWoodson 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 Me. What a perfect follow-up.
or Negro. We are not thieves or shameful
or something to be hidden away.
At the fabric store, we're just people.
And as it turns out, the free verse was actually very appealing.