Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. Nancy Paulsen Books: New York, 2014. ISBN 9780399252518
This is the biography of Jacqueline Woodson, an African American writer. In this vivid and amazing book, told in free verse narrative, we learn about what it was like for her to grow up in the 60s and 70s both in the South and North as an African American girl. We also learn about how she develops and grows as a writer.
This book is amazing, and one that everyone should read. I’m afraid any analysis would not do this beautiful novel justice. In free verse narrative, this tale of her life is told so eloquently. There are moments of brutal honesty that leaves me breathless. The details are so vivid, I feel like I’m there. The book flows beautifully, as most novels in verse do. The pacing is relatively slow. It took a minute for me to get through the book, but I did enjoy it immensely.
This excerpt is found on page 6.
“Name a girl Jack, my father said,
and she can’t help but
grow up strong.
Raise her right, my father said
and she’ll make that name her own.
Name a girl Jack
and people will look at her twice, my father said.”
I actually love this and honestly, I kind of want to name a girl Jack now. I love the father’s thinking behind naming his daughter Jack. While he would be naming her after himself, that’s not his motivation. His motivation in naming her Jack, taking in the time period in which she was born and her race, is that naming her Jack would’ve given her more opportunities in a life. That she wouldn’t be automatically singled out as a black woman with that name. Names can be powerful things. Just as J.K. Rowling and S.E. Hinton hid their true names to avoid being judged on their gender, being given a traditionally male or gender neutral name would’ve provided her an opportunity to not be judged by her name. It’s a powerful message.