In an effort to utilize my “spring break” effectively, I have been reading Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. After reading Yellow Star and Crank, transitioning to another free verse prose novel was that much easier for me. It is interesting to read a novel about the life of the author. Although Jacqueline Woodson was born decades before me (I swear I’m not calling her old!), I have found myself flagging endless pages that I can relate to my own life. Page 181, is the most recent section that I have flagged and in my opinion is the one that relates the most to my own experiences. This section is entitled, “our father, fading away.” As I was reading this, I was amazed by how familiar the emotions Jacqueline felt were for me. Like her, I did not grow up with my father in my life after the age of eleven. “We forget the color of his skin; was his voice deep or high?” These were verses that evoked so much emotion for me. I can completely relate to how Jacqueline felt, knowing that the memory of her father was fading away. Interesting enough, I had a discussion about this very topic with my mom not too long ago. Having an es
tranged relationship with my own father, it had dawned on me that I do not remember much about him, including his voice and how he looks.
I think that I was able to relate to Jacqueline’s experience that much more because, it was authentic and real. This is an aspect of Brown Girl Dreaming that I particularly enjoyed. Having read so many young adult novels in the past that were fictitious, I found myself more intrigued and engaged in how Jacqueline described her own life experiences. I could not help but dive into this book; wanting to learn more and more about Jacqueline’s childhood.
Considering the fact that she grew up during the 60s, civil rights was heavily prevalent throughout the book. It was interesting to see how this event in history not only impacted Jacqueline, but her friends and family as well. Jacqueline’s friendship with a young hispanic girl named Maria was one that stood out to me, in the mist of this. Although racism was evident during this time, Jacqueline formed a lasting friendship with Maria. I’m glad Jacqueline had someone like Maria in her life. Someone she could not only relate to, but learn so much from. Culture was one thing that the two girls were able to share with one another; as evident by them constantly trading their mothers signature meals with each other. Through something as simple as a plate of food, Jacqueline and Maria were able to learn about the dishes that were common in their cultures.
Brown Girl Dreaming is unlike any book that I have read. I found myself intrigued by Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood, including her family and how she came to love writing. I think every author should take the time to write a memoir, because it allows readers to understand where they are coming from as a writer. After reading Jacqueline’s memoir, I have a much greater appreciation for her as a author.