Title/Author: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Genre: Middle Grade, Biography, Novel in Verse, Diverse Literature
Published: August 28th, 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Audiobook, 156 minutes
How I Got This Book: Checked it out from the library
Why I Picked It Up?: Because National Book Award? Biography in verse? YES.
Book Jacket Blurb: “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.”
Initially, I checked this book out in physical book form. And then I found out that Jacqueline Woodson reads her own poetry, and I KNEW I HAD to listen to it!
This is the story of Jacqueline’s childhood, and she lays down everything she went through: losing her father, moving away, sharing bedrooms, struggling family, school problems, and a love of creating stories. It is a really unique experience to read a memoir in verse–it just makes the poetry even more beautiful. I have read a few novels in verse, but to read a real, true story in this format is just a different experience. It really is personal, and even though I have not experienced the things Jacqueline lived through, I connected with young Jacqueline, and that just made this memoir even more special.
This was my first experience with listening to poetry on audiobook, and I had a little bit of a problem with it. Because, with poetry, every single word is intentional and purposeful. I never realized that I zone out while I listen, but apparently I do on occasion. And when you do that during poetry, you miss a lot in a very little amount of time. That being said, I am glad I got to experience listening to this, because hearing Jacqueline read this herself is such an honor and a privilege. It is such a personal story, and hearing her tell it is like sitting across from her in a coffee shop–such a personal, intimate conversation between Jacqueline and the listener.
Honestly, this is a story that everyone should read. It is real; it is universal and yet personal; it is encouraging and inspiring; it is beautiful.
My Bookshelf Rating:
A Fourth Shelf Book.
Beautiful poetry and storytelling. I really got an intimate look at Jacqueline’s childhood and the start of her passion for writing. It was an honor to listen to Jacqueline Woodson read her own poetic memoir. Quite lovely, and very important.
For all school libraries.
Love and Composition Notebooks,