Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014
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 loved reading Woodson’s story in verse and seeing how she was a born storyteller. I loved reading about how much writing meant to her, even at a young age. I felt like I knew her family by the end of the book, and when I finished, I thought, “I want to see family pictures! I want to see Daddy and Roman and Jaqueline and everyone!” When I turned the next few pages, I was delighted to see tons of pictures. If you pick this book up at night (like I did) be prepared to be tired the next day (like I was.) I had no idea that an hour had passed - it felt like 15 minutes. This book definitely deserved its National Book Award.