Book Reviews

Mini-Review — Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Book title: Brown Girl Dreaming
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin Group USA)
Release date: August 2014
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Source: Library.



National Book Award Winner

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.

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.

I wish I’d reviewed Brown Girl Dreaming closer to when I read it, so, alas, this is going to be a very short review.

Brown Girl Dreaming is a touching memoir told in verse. It is about author Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood when she was growing up as a young African American girl in the 1960s and 70s, both in the South and in New York. It is a book about herself, her family, and the struggles of racial prejudice she experienced first or secondhand. But it’s mainly a book about the things in our childhood that shape and influence us into the people we are today. It’s a book about finding one’s place in life.

The free verse poems are beautiful. Some are short, some are long, but each is written in a thoughtful manner that is accessible for children, teens, and adults. This book is marketed as middle grade, but anyone of any age will be able to love and appreciate it. Jacqueline shares many facts and events from her life and tells them eloquently and with emotion. The book does not have a strict “plot”, nor is it laid out like a traditional story, but you have to remember that this is a unique memoir. The book does flow and there are ups and downs to read about. Basically, Brown Girl Dreaming is a really special book that tells the truth of a young girl’s life. I highly recommend it for its gorgeous writing and exceptional, important substance. ♦

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Have you read Brown Girl Dreaming?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a book you’ve read written in verse?
What’s the last memoir you’ve read?
Comment below letting me know!
And, as always, happy reading!

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4 thoughts on “Mini-Review — Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

  1. Oh! I had no idea that this was a memoir. That’s super interesting.

    But … it’s written in verse. I write poetry, and I also like reading it, but there’s something about books written in verse that just does not click with me. It’s almost like books should be books and poetry should be poetry? I write both, so I SHOULD be more accepting, it’s just that verse books and I have never gotten along very well sigh

    Even so, I think there’s a chance I might pick this one up, because it sounds super lovely and emotional, and I love both of those things in a book!

    The last memoir I read was HONOR GIRL by Maggie Thrash, which was also a graphic novel! I really enjoyed it 😀


    1. I like books in verse but it’s kind of hit or miss for me. I’ve read some great ones: Ellen Hopkins’ books, Brown Girl Dreaming, Out of the Dust, 5 to 1… and I’ve read some pretty mediocre ones that I feel were written in verse just for the sake of writing in verse. Verse novels are poetry, and there’s more to the format than just writing a paragraph and hitting the Enter button willy-nilly. And I’m definitely interested in Honor Girl. I’m totally loving graphic novels this year so I’ll try to pick this one up!


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