Monday, February 29, 2016

Book twenty-seven: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

It took me several tries to actually read this book. I know. I know. It's winning awards right and left, what's my beef with it? Honestly, the poetry angle works well but I take issue with her rememberances starting at birth. Although I didn't recognize that as being my issue with the book until I finally finished it. It is a poetic memoir of Woodson's childhood and what it was like to an African-American during rather tumultuous times. Once I read to a place when it seemed plausible that these were retellings of actual memories, I became invested in what she had to say.

Her poetry isn't whimsical and filled with lofty language and ideals. It is real, gritty, honest. And, if it makes it easier, you can look past the structure and almost read it as prose. (I don't think that's a bad thing.) This had me thinking of it as similar to Jenny Offill's novel, Dept. of Speculation, that I so enjoyed last year (or the year before?). Each poem is a little snippet or vignette or whatever you'd call it but taken all together she imparts something beyond the small details of the day, a bigger picture worthy of being examined.

27 down plus 25 to go.

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