Review of Remember Us

Remember Us Remember Us
by Jacqueline Woodson
Middle School    Paulsen/Penguin    192 pp.
10/23    9780399545467    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780399545481    $10.99

Sage Durham, a basketball-obsessed Black twelve-year-old, is looking forward to a summer of pick-up games with the boys (she’s always the only girl on the court) in her close-knit 1970s Brooklyn neighborhood. Instead, it proves to be a season of screaming sirens and burned-out buildings. The newspapers dub Bushwick “The Matchbox,” and a number of the Durhams’ neighbors become victims of fire. Sage’s mom, the widow of a firefighter, is saving every possible penny to put toward a brick house and a safer future for herself and her daughter. But the idea of leaving the home where her dad grew up and all the people she has ever known is hard for Sage. A recent cruel comment (“What kind of girl are you?”) has her questioning where she fits in. This lyrical first-person upper-middle-grade novel taps into a wide array of emotional truths and preteen sensibilities. Passages on loss and memory feature palpable sadness, but there is also a tender exploration of the enduring power of friendship and love, the discovery of inner strength and resilience, and the need to balance an appreciation for what “once was” and what may be. Woodson again delivers an appealing protagonist whose voice will resonate with readers in a nuanced coming-of-age story worth remembering.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Luann Toth
Luann Toth

Luann Toth is a former reviews editor at School Library Journal. She holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

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