Review: brown girl dreaming

 

brown girl

I recently bought my ticket to see the inspirational Jaqueline Woodson speak in Vancouver on May 8, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I recently picked up Woodson’s free-verse memoir brown girl dreaming, and words cannot express how deeply moving this beautiful, beautiful book is.

brown girl dreaming is Woodson’s semi-autobiographical account of her experiences as a young black woman growing up first in the South, and then in New York City. Elegant, beautiful and heartbreaking, it is a story of hardship and resilience, pain and persistence, disappointment and accomplishment.

I have been sharing one of my favourite passages with everyone I’ve come across, particularly my fellow library staff:

 

stevie and me

Every Monday, my mother takes us

to the library around the corner. We are allowed

to take out seven books each. On those days,

no one complains

that all I want are picture book.

 

Those days, no one tells me to read faster

to read harder books

to read like Dell.

 

No one is there to say, Not that book,

when I stop in front of the small paperback

with a brown boy on the cover.

Stevie.

 

I read:

One day my momma told me,

“You know you’re gonna have

a little friend come stay with you.”

And I said, “Who is it?”

 

If someone had been fussing with me

to read like my sister, I might have missed

the picture book filled with brown people, more

brown people than I’d ever seen

in a book before.

 

The little boy’s name was Steven but

his mother kept calling him Stevie.

My name is Robert but my momma don’t

call me Robertie.

 

If someone had taken

that book out of my hand

said, You’re too old for this

maybe

I’d never have believed

that someone who looked like me

could be in the pages of the book

that someone who looked like me

had a story.

 

We need libraries. We need diverse books.

 

Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014. Print. Pages 227-228.

 

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