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Brown Girl Dreaming | Class #2, 2016

woodson_brown girl dreaming

Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is a coming-of-age memoir in eloquent free verse. Consider how form and voice reflect the young girl’s discovery of self and the world around her.

Lauren Adams About Lauren Adams

Lauren Adams teaches English and ELL at Natick High School and adolescent literature at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Formerly a Senior Editor for The Horn Book Magazine, she regularly contributes book reviews.

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  1. Karen Tlili says:

    Jacqueline Woodsen’s voice in this memoir is so true and clear; i truly felt like one of her oldest friends when I finished reading it. She invited us into the narrative of her life sharing the good and the bad.
    It clear to see how she became a writer. She was immersed in stories from the history of her family before she was even born which lead to her realization that she was a storyteller and writer herself. Buried within her history, Jacqueline came to realize the importance of storytelling in her life. She would listen to her grandmother’s stories when she came home from cleaning other peoples’ houses. She learned from the stories from church and the one’s her sister, an avid reader, read aloud when they were getting their hair done. She struggled with reading and writing herself, but was never discouraged that things took her a little longer. I loved when she basically admitted that she had become a young child who would lie and invent stories and justify it because she was simply being a storyteller. She was so aware of all the experiences and talents that helped her to become a storyteller and was truly pleased when teachers started to acknowledge her talents. I really appreciated the part that the challenges of “formal” reading and writing instruction never dulled her passion for stories as she was growing up. SHe just had to get her stories out and she knew that was her special talent.

  2. Caroline Walsh says:

    Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, was one of the most heartfelt and authentic books that I’ve read in a while. I agree with Karen that her voice was true, and I appreciated the sense of nostalgia in each vignette, whether the tone was one of hope, frustration, growing pains, etc…I felt catapulted back into my own youth, especially with regard to the vignettes about her friend Maria and the protectiveness and sanctity surrounding their friendship and the difficulty with the fluidity of the “best friend” construct. I agree with Karen, that Woodson demonstrates the earnest-ness and awkward development of childhood inner-thinking in such a humble and relatable way. Further, she does a seamless job of weaving historical context into her narrative and her use of imagery to pull the reader into the time and the setting is really beautifully done. She illustrates and develops the idea of “home” through sincere and familiar qualities such as foods, smells, sensations, comforts, and at times as the reader, I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort and discomfort in her settings. The structure and use of vignette in memoir seemed to provide a unique opportunity for voice while simultaneously drawing the reader’s attention to the most pivotal and poignant moments that inform and influence the development of the author’s story.

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