Date Completed: 3/1/16
I typically hate poetry. This book/compilation of free form poetry was amazing. Memoir style, Woodson’s story speaks to the struggles, promises, and pitfalls of growing up as a black girl in the South and in the North, and how those experiences differ.
Although this book is marketed as a middle grade novel, I believe it should be essential reading material for everyone. Woodson’s writing accurately reflects the innocence of childhood while delving into the deeper cultural issues that were present in 1960’s America, many of which are still very relevant for people of color today.Glimpses like this help me realize the micro-aggressions present that I may not have noticed before, and help me better recognize my privilege.
“In the stores downtown
We’re always followed around
Just because we’re brown.”
I appreciate how Woodson doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to heavy details. She doesn’t treat her intended readers, middle grade readers, as incapable of handling the weight of life or the fact that growing up in the 1960’s was a dangerous time. She knows that kids can handle it and that her story should be an experience people and children have to remind themselves of the dangers of the world and the resilience within ourselves.
“I look around and see the ones
who walk straight to the back.
See the ones who take a seat up front, daring
anyone to make them move. And know
this is who I want to be. Not scared
like that. Brave
The verse flows from one story into the next and I was pulled along, as though I was floating down a river and watching a movie all at the same time. Woodson sparked vivid images to form in my head that I appreciate all the more for the content of this book. And of course I loved seeing the pictures of her beautiful family in the back of the book, a nice touch I always appreciate in memoirs.
As you will discover if you read this book, Woodson used so say she’d be a lawyer or a hairdresser or a teacher, but she knew her passion was writing. She used to write on everything, or try to write on everything she could. She’s written lots of books thus far, as you can see, and I look forward to reading more from her.