Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
read in May 2018 (Buzzword Readathon)
This is a spoiler-free review!
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
All of my Goodreads friends have rated Brown Girl Dreaming four stars or more, so I expected this book to blow me away. Sadly, that was not the case. This is Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir written in free verse, so considering this work is personal, I certainly don’t want to criticise it.
I love audiobooks that are narrated by the authors themselves. That said, I struggle listening to books written in verse on audiobook. For some reason I feel like I can’t absorb all the information that way. My own issues aside, I think Woodson did a great job narrating this.
My main problem with Brown Girl Dreaming is the lack of plot. This is a memoir and not a novel so that’s to be expected, but I felt like the poems weren’t cohesive. This book covers many years of Woodson’s life as a child, but as a reader, I found it unclear how much time had passed between each poem.
Brown Girl Reading is a worthy read for lovers of books written in verse and it was nice to learn more about a black girl growing up in Ohio, the South and Brooklyn. That said, I didn’t love it as other readers seem to.
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