Review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

So, in a bid to make my reading more diverse this year, I started out with this firecracker and definitely wasn’t disappointed! Yay for brilliant books!


Spoiler Free Review

Title: brown girl dreaming 

Authors: Jacqueline Woodson

Published: Puffin, 2014

Pages: 347

Some links: Goodreads and Amazon


Woodson shares her stories of growing up as an African American in the South during the 60s and 70s. She gives us a glimpse into her own life and the lives of others throughout this time, with each poem more beautiful than the last.


This book is a revelation. Seriously, I haven’t stopped speaking about this book since I started reading it and I’ve recommended it to so many people. I honestly don’t know how you could read this collection of poems and not be brought to tears with the raw emotion in them. I learned so many from this book – about life as an African American, about hardship and religion and family, about love for yourself and others. I don’t know how I’m going to write about my feelings, but I’m going to try.

First off, the writing. I haven’t read an abundance of poetry, so I can’t really speak from a place of wisdom on the subject, but something about this collection seemed new and different to me. The collection told her story, from day to day in chronological order, which is something I hadn’t seen before. I wondered if this would become a bit repetitive and boring, but it was anything but. With new snippets of life and each line carefully crafted, each poem brought new things to the “character” she was telling us about, and her life.

Some of my favourites were:

  • Journey – where she tells us about her Father, and how “you kids deserve to be/as good as you already are”, a line which hit me hard and was very relevant for right now.
  • The How to Listen series – short poems with pieces of advice and wisdom.
  • South Carolina at War – where her grandfather teaches her to stand up for what is right and be proud of her heritage.
  • The Selfish Giant – tells the story of the first story she remembers by heart, speaks aloud and of the pride in knowing words were her calling.

Woodson has such a way with words – nothing too flowery, just simple and gets right to your heart. They make you think, make you feel – which is exactly what I believe poetry and books and words are supposed to do.

Finally, it was so interesting to read a collection of poetry which explored such an important time in our history, which is still reverberating today. There were so many moments where I was reading and thought, “everything has changed and yet not much at all” – so many story points which were as relevant today as they were in the days when she was growing up. I feel like this collection of poetry has so much to tell us, so much to give us, if we as a society just listen.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars! My first of 2017!

I really loved this collection, if you couldn’t already tell! It was just a really poignant reading experience for me, and I hope it’ll be a similar one for you if you pick this up (which you should, I REALLY recommend it!).


5 thoughts on “Review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

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