Rating: High Four
Who I'd Recommend to: Fans of poetry books, Locomotion, Hokey Pokey, and Stargirl, as well as the Evolution of Calipurnia Tate
Summary (from Amazon):
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
I thought it was very interesting to see Woodson's take on that time period and civil rights even as a young girl - I know, she wrote this book when she was adult, but I doubt that she made up her feelings from the POV of someone so young. In my opinion, reading is the best way to learn about historical events (and I don't mean history textbooks at school). Plus, though it became a little too frequent for my liking, I thought the religious side of her life was interesting too (since her grandmother raised her as a Jehovah's Witness). I felt very connected with the story throughout the whole book, especially when it got to the parts that prodded at tears the most. No, there was nothing described in such detail that it was insanely sad, but the How to Listen haikus were very insightful for such short chapters. I felt so strongly for Woodson and her family as they struggled with showing the world that they deserve rights too, and I could see how frequently she added hints to show this in the book. For example, when Woodson described how the people had painted over the White Only signs, but painted lightly, like they believed that soon, this whole revolution would pass and it would go back to the same as before. (Half the book takes place in South Carolina).
Overall, I could go on and on about this book, but I'll end it with saying that I believe everyone should read this incredible book.