Brown Girl Dreaming

by Jacqueline Woodson
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

There is no doubt that Jacqueline Woodson is a wonderful writer and I did enjoy this book. However, I’m not entirely sure who it’s meant for. It’s not detailed enough on the civil rights side, not factual enough for those looking for a biography, and not enough of a heart-string puller for what I look for in a novel in verse. Ultimately, it’s about a little girl who wants to be a writer, and there aren’t enough of those little girls (or boys) to give this to. Still and all, I’m glad she wrote it – it’s a beautiful addition to her overall body of work – but just not sure it’s intended for children, per se.

I liked Woodson’s description of her separation from her father and might have liked to hear more about how he came back into her life when she was a teenager (especially since he is largely absent in the book but warmly mentioned in the credits). More detail of where her baby brother came from, since it sounded like he was lighter-skinned than the other kids in the family, and where his father fit into the picture. The hospitalization of her baby brother, separation of her parents, and death of her beloved grandfather were all threads I would have liked to have seen expanded upon. I also loved her friendship with Maria, who is still her dear friend according to the credits, and how Jackie is seen as a member of the family, which was very sweet. She struggles with the appearance of a new friend for Maria but that is magically resolved somehow. Overall, beautifully written and well worth reading, but I’m just not sure who the audience is.

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