Review: Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The verse is gorgeous. I see why this book won so many awards.

I personally struggled with the flow of the story. I wanted to be more inside the Brown Girl Dreaming and her personal experiences. Instead, it took more of a historical look and focused a lot on other family members. In fact, a good portion of the book happens before the age at which any of the experiences could even be memories for the author. I think around 25% in, she was still only age 3, and most solid memories don’t begin until closer to 4 or 5.

That’s not bad, and I see what the goal and purpose of it was. I just actually wanted to spend even more time inside the emotions and experiences of the author, because I’m fully aware of the history of the time period. Also, I think it might not be as approachable as a read for actual middle school students, because even though it gives a bit more history, it’s a bit vague at times.

I would also be concerned that the distance of the narrator from the actual stories might be harder for younger readers. There’s a difference in the emotions expressed when a story is retold, instead of being lived (or being presented as if it was lived). The fact that so much was retold, instead of immediate, left me feeling distance from the actually story.

I did find it interesting, but despite what a short/quick read this is, I had to kind of force myself forward. I don’t dislike this novel, as evidenced by the 4 star rating. In fact, there are many things I love about it. I just think I went in expecting something even more personal, for a story of someone’s childhood, and I felt more distance and separation than I hoped for.

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