50 Books By Authors of Color: Book 4
Title: Lena
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Medium: Book
Lena book cover

This book is actually a sequel to one I read eons ago called I Hadn’t Meant To Tell You This. However, I don’t think it’s really necessary to have read the first book to understand and enjoy Lena. In the previous book, Lena who is white becomes friends with Marie, who is black. The two bond over a shared loss, their mothers. Marie’s who walked out on her and her professor father and Lena’s who died years before. Lena eventually reveals to Marie that her father (who hates black people and objects to Lena’s friendship with Marie) has been molesting her and her younger sister Dion and finally she decides that she and her sister have no other choice but to run away. The book is told from Marie’s perspective.

Lena is told from Lena’s perspective and it starts out with her and her sister Dion posing as boys hitchhiking. It is clear that Lena misses Marie but finally decided that fleeing was the only way she could escape the abuse and keep her and her sister together. They turn down more rides than they take, only getting into trucks and cars when they feel like they can trust the people. Lying to get from city to city claiming that their mother is in the hospital with a new baby and they lost the money she left them. Most people buy it, or are willing to let the girls lie to them. Only a waitress at a diner actually tells them that she knows they are on the road, the waitress is kind and refuses to let them pay for their meals knowing that they will likely need the money later.

Finally Lena and Dion take a ride from a motherly old black woman  named Miz Lily who has been a foster mother and biological mother to a total of eleven kids. Miz Lily in the short time they are with her gives them love and kindness that surprises the sisters and lets them open up to her in ways that shocks all of them.

Overall Rating: 3/5.


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