Friday, October 30, 2009

Feathers - Jacqueline Woodson


I blame it all on Natasha and Amy. They inspired me to read "I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This" by Jacqueline Woodson, and I was so impressed by its simplicity and beauty, that I was soon on my library's website ordering more from Woodson. Feathers was next up on the list.

The title Feathers is based on the quote from Emily Dickinson: Hope is the thing with feathers. The story is short (118 pages), subtle and gentle, but sneaky. I'm not sure it is possible to close the book upon finishing it, and move directly on to the next book in the pile. The story leaves a trail of crumbs in your heart that helps you re-trace and re-think about where you've been. True to the quote, the story is all about hope.



Frannie is a tween-aged black girl living in a black neighborhood in the 1970's, and goes to a black school. Life is as normal as it gets, until one day, a white boy walks into her classroom. A boy with long hair and a peaceful demeanor. The kids soon refer to him as the "Jesus Boy". Some even begin to wonder whether he IS Jesus, sent from the heavens to their school for a reason.

There are several plots taking place in the book, but they are all interwoven with the desire for hope. Frannie's older brother has been deaf since birth - will he ever be able to fully integrate with the speaking world? Frannie's mother is pregnant, but has had a history of devastating miscarriages - will this baby survive? Why would the "Jesus Boy" want to live among people with a different skin color? Is he really Jesus, or just a normal boy? Frannie sums up her feelings to her best friend Samantha:

"Maybe he is (the real Jesus). Maybe there's a little bit of Jesus inside of all of us. Maybe Jesus is just that something good or something sad or something...something that stays with us and makes us do stuff like help Trevor up, even though he's busy cursing us out. Or maybe...maybe Jesus is just that thing you had when the Jesus Boy first got here, Samantha. Maybe Jesus is the hope that you were feeling."

Amen sister. What a wonderful way Woodson has with depicting the emotions of young adults, the tension between blacks and whites, and the innocence of kids who really want to push all that aside and get along.


4.5 out of 5 stars


17 comments:

caite said...

well, I blame you and Amy and Natasha for going to my library website and getting 'I Hadn't Meant To Tell You This'...but as it is a wonderful book (as I will extol as soon as I write the review) blame might be the wrong word.

Personally, I need to know what happens to Lena, I was so worried about her..I had to request 'Lena'.

Alice Teh said...

You read the most interesting books, Sandy. This is another one that interests me.

Beth F said...

I can definitely see the appeal of this book. I think it might be a bit to Christian/religious for my tastes.

Nymeth said...

This sounds amazing! I've only read one Woodson so far - Miracle's Boys - but I loved it too!

Alyce said...

Great review! I'm very curious about this book now.

farmlanebooks said...

I haven't read anything by this author yet, but I will keep an eye out for them now. Thank you for a great review!

Amy Reads Good Books said...

I hadn't heard of this. . . thanks for the review! I love how you describe the book's effect on you!

bermudaonion said...

Your review gave me chills - especially that quote, because that's exactly how I feel. I've added this to my wish list.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

What a great review - I'm intrigued! Is this a YA book?

"subtle but sneaky" appeals to me.

Amy said...

Wonderful review! I love a book that you want to see it and think about when you finish reading it.

Jenners said...

I like your line "it leaves a trail of crumbs..." Very thoughtful review.

ds said...

Lovely review, Sandy. Have seen this author's name everywhere; will take a closer look now. Thanks.

Amy said...

I haven't read this one yet, but I'm glad you're reading more of her books! She read from this when I saw her and I thought it was pretty powerful.

stacybuckeye said...

What a charming review. Adding it to my wish list right now!

Melody said...

I haven't read any books by this author yet; I'll have to check them out!

Serena said...

Wow, this sounds like a fantastic book. Thanks for the recommendation!

Anna said...

Sounds like it gives you some food for thought. Adding this to my to-read (some day) list. :)

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric