Jacqueline Woodson | pub: August 2014 | 337 pp
Brown Girl Dreaming has been in my TBR for a couple of years. Im really glad I took the time to sit and read this book a weekend in September. Its the authors autobiographical memoir of her childhood experiences coming of age during the 1960-70’s Civil Rights movement and The Great Migration.
Jacqueline is very young when we meet her and her siblings in Ohio, where she was born. Her mother and father fight often, which leads momma, Mary Ann, to leave father, Jack, for her family’s home in South Carolina. This is the beginning of several back and forth moves between the Jim Crow south and the north, where mom is trying to find her footing. The family eventually lands in New York.
Pros: Nothing new is unveiled in the story about the civil rights experience or the black migration to the north. What makes the story interesting, beside its written as a collection of poems, is Jacquelines ability to speak only from a child’s perspective. For a child, the migration wasn’t about safety or economics, but leaving the comfort of her grandparents sanctuary, leaving what she knew. Warm weather, open land, and frankly what she considered freedom, for tight, cramped spaces, relatives she didn’t know, cold and dark. We hear, from her perspective about her missing in action father, her grandfathers death, her uncles arrest..all of it. How the author describes everything is so beautiful and vibrant!
We hear about the writers early struggles learning to read and write. Clearly she’s overcome the issue as the writing here is superb.
Cons: I don’t have any except to not walk into reading this expecting some action packed book. Its really a simple book of poems written about her life from as early as she can remember through maybe 10.
This was my first book, written in verse in this manner and I really enjoyed it. I will definitely buy more of Woodson’s books. Goodbook #46
Storygraph Summary: Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.