I think I've established that through my reading of three Jacqueline Woodson novels over the past six months, I am officially a fan. All of the books I've read have been of the YA genre, and address various forms of black and white issues, with other hot topics thrown in for flavor. Woodson's books tend to be relatively short...150 pages give or take...but overflow with emotion and gravitas. It is a true talent to be able to say so much in so few words.
So when I read a review of this book (sorry, I cannot recall who wrote the review) it was an impulsive library request. This is why I can't remember whose review inspired me...I read it, then immediately log into the library website to order. I needed another Woodson fix.
Ellie and Miah both go to a high-end private school in NYC. They each have their own problems at home. Ellie's mother has walked out on their family twice over the years, which has created some distrust and abandonment issues. She is virtually an only child because her siblings are much older. Miah's father, a famous Hollywood director, had an affair with a family friend and now lives with the fling across the street from Miah's mother. Both are lonely, and find a kindred spirit in each other. Theirs is an intense, first love. The only problem is that Ellie is white and Jewish, and Miah is black. People stare. Ellie's lesbian sister refuses to speak to her. Will they ever be able to have a "normal" relationship without being judged?
This book is precious. It not only captures the magic and depth of first love, but addresses some pretty heavy topics...the public's nonacceptance of bi-racial couples, infidelity, same-sex unions, to name a few. But not with a preachy or overblown attitude. There are no stereotypes - that is not Woodson's style. Instead, the tone is gentle, delicate, unassuming and beautiful.
Woodson continues to impress. Just one word of warning...have your tissues ready. She will make your heart ache.
5 out of 5 stars