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review 2017-04-08 13:38
A beautiful and important piece of literature
Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson 


This is an interesting book for me to review.  I don't usually read poetry and this wasn't on my radar at all, but I ended up reading it for a Goodreads group and I'm so glad that I did.  


BROWN GIRL DREAMING is a memoir written in verse.  The poems take you through a story of a young girl growing up from being born in Ohio, to moving to South Carolina, and eventually moving to New York City.  The thing that makes this story unique is the fact that she grew up in the '60's and 70's so her experiences were much different based on her location.


I felt a kinship to this young Jacqueline as I was reading her story.  There were a lot of things that I could relate to, no matter that her and my experiences were happening about 15 years apart.  But there are things all brown girls go through no matter the time.  I chuckled when reading "hair night".  Everyone knows about the sizzle of that hot comb. I was wistful when reading "stevie and me" and I think about the first book I read that had a person of color as the main character, and how it affected me (mine wasn't fiction though, it was a book about Wilma Rudolph for young readers).  I also think about the stupid things I thought about doing that could have changed the course of my life forever if not for the fact that I had family who was involved and willing to stop me and make think.  In Ms. Woodson's "graffiti", she had spray paint, but it really could have been anything.  And of course there is the "fabric store" where every brown girl can sympathize with Jaqueline's grandmother for now wanting to go into the store where there employee follows all the black people around to make sure they don't steal anything.  She chooses to go to the fabric store instead.


Then there were things that I only heard about.  Like in "what everybody knows now", she talks about how the laws of changed but the attitudes of segregation have not in Greenville, South Carolina.  It must have been so hard for her to go from New York to SC with those vastly different attitudes.  The mixed messages that these kids had to adapt to is unreal, but I look at how some things haven't change.  I think about the fear that I have for my own children especially my son as he gets older, and the stereotypes that he is going to have to still endure.  The fear that I have that one day he may be stopped by police and never come home again.


Ultimately, BROWN GIRL DREAMING was beautifully written and touched me so deeply, I know that I will be thinking about the story and revisiting it for a long time.  I am going to make sure that it's a book that my daughter reads very soon, and probably force my son to read it as well (I'll convince him that it's not just about an "icky" girl).  I would recommend this book for everyone, it's poignant but funny at times, sad too.  And I believe that everyone will be able to find some like experiences to her story as well.


This is a new author for me, but she's definitely on my radar now.  I will be looking for more of her work. 

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review 2016-12-26 20:04
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Another Brooklyn: A Novel - Jacqueline Woodson

I love Jacqueline Woodson's books. I've read quite a few of them now and I absolutely love them. Another Brooklyn is no exception. What pulled me in to this book the most was it's setting and writing.


I grew up near Brooklyn and I always love reading books that take place in New York because it brings me back to a time where I went to these places often. The way Woodson described the tall, red brick buildings brought back so many memories... and that's the main theme of this book: Memories. What we go through in life and how we react, how we remember those events and the impact it makes. Just... so many experiences that make us who we are. I love this book.


The writing was especially gorgeous! It's lyrical, almost as if you're reading spoken word poetry. I was transported to Brooklyn, my home. I could envision the streets, the people, the bodegas, everything. How I miss home.


The characters were interesting. Each living their own lives and storing their own memories. I loved reading about what they went through and felt for them whenever they had to deal with hardships because of discrimination. How people never wanted to give them a chance at life because these girls were black. It's a heartbreaking tale that racism once again plays a hand in. But the message where we must keep going even if everything seems hopeless, is what makes this book beautiful to me.


It's not a happy read. But it's an important one. It's a book I think everyone should read if only to understand what it means to live and to hope and to strive... even if memories remind us of how cruel the world can be.

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text 2016-12-12 20:48
Another Brooklyn: A Novel - Jacqueline Woodson

A slight, spare book, which has the compression and space of poetry. (I think I would think this even if I didn’t know that Woodson is a poet.) It’s about girls growing up, doomed and beautiful and alive. I did wish for a little more resolution, but that’s just my desire as a reader–Woodson is obviously making very deliberate choices about giving us these particular moments in time and no more.

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review 2016-12-12 19:24
Another Brooklyn
Another Brooklyn: A Novel - Jacqueline Woodson

The story is good, but it's really the writing that makes it magnificent.

The book is written in a wistful sort of way and kind of rambles sometimes and keeps the reader in that feeling of being in her stream of consciousness. Its poetic in the way that it discusses some of the harder topics, like the denial we can experience in childhood about what's going on in the world or that hides truths we can't handle yet. I loved the way her mind wandered sometimes from one thing to another and how it effected the way that she remembered things.

Most of all, I love that it was a true story of the lives of girls. Each girl is different, but they all go through those things that all girls go through. They deal with those things that we deal with and Woodson uses that poetic style to include these things without dwelling on them or having to describe them in unnecessary detail. Her writing lets you really feel the story in a way that is unusual. I appreciate writing in a way that walks the reading through that feeling of things we remember rather than life as it happens. I also enjoyed this way of writing with The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness.

The path of each girl wasn't unexpected, though I didn't know which would go which way and there were several others to choose from. This is just the way of things, down to the ways they drifted together and apart. This will be one of those books that could easily be used to describe the way of life at the time it is set. I wouldn't even say specifically for the place that it was set because the lives of the girls are relatable to just about every group of girls I've ever known. It's late 20th century America in the city. There are some truths that may keep it out of high school classrooms, but I could easily see it brought into the college American Literature class. I would certainly use it. This and her memoir written in poetry, Brown Girl Dreaming.

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review 2016-12-06 00:00
Another Brooklyn: A Novel
Another Brooklyn: A Novel - Jacqueline Woodson This is a story about growing up female and black during the 70's in Brooklyn. It covers from preteen to adult, mostly focusing on the early teen years. Homelife, family, religion, parents, boys, poor people, addicts, kissing, dating, friendships, sex, drugs, music, attitudes, beauty, goals, basically everything about growing up and life is touched on. It almost seemed like a diary of an adult telling about the past and has sort of a poetic feel to it. It's great at putting you in the moment.
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