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BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson was one of the books I told myself I would get to someday. I had heard rave reviews for it but I’ve never been a big fan of poetry or novels written in verse so I continued to put it off. In February, my library acquired and audio copy of the book… and I thought, why not? My initial plan was to just listen to it while I walked my dogs (as I do with all audio books) but the sound of Jacqueline Woodson reading her own story about growing up as a Black girl in Jim Crow era South Carolina and then New York was so overwhelmingly good that I finished it in one night and bought the book the next morning.
I can’t describe how this book touched my soul. From the joys and tortures of growing up under the never-ending Southern summer sun to the unabashed love for her grandparents, it almost felt a little like reliving my own childhood. Of course, we grew up two different races and in two different eras, but the south hasn’t changed that much in the course of 40 years. When she talked about being forced to sit on the back of the bus, about places that wouldn’t serve her family, my mind flashed to my own family’s run-in with the KKK when we lived in a small town in south Alabama. There’s a longing in her words for a place that is home but isn’t always homey, and it struck a chord because that’s how I feel, too.
Woodson does an amazing job of introducing and fleshing out her family with just a few simple words. Her writing is honest and witty and sharp, an homage to a southern upbringing with a New York background.
If you haven’t read this book, I would definitely suggest picking it up… even if you don’t like verse. This may just be the book to change your mind.