50 Books By Authors of Color: Book 29
Title: The Dear One
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
I know, I know I promised no more Jacqueline Woodson but the area we take our breaks in for my second job is loaded with her books so I tend to pick them up and then really want to finish them. So I promise this one, and Feathers and that’s it. I’m only reading Feathers because a good friend of mine is considering buying it for her daughter and I said I’d read it to make sure it was appropriate. I’m a good friend, what can I say.
Also, Happy National Novel Writer’s Month to all of my NaNoWriMoers. I was going to participate this year but with the blog and work, I’m not sure I have time. But we’ll see.
So, The Dear One is the second novel Woodson ever wrote, and it kind of shows. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just I’ve gotten so used to the smooth transitions and the clean prose the Woodson uses, The Dear One doesn’t have as much of either but is still an excellent work.
Afeni is twelve years old, spoiled rotten and rich, but what would a black protagonist (or any protagonist) be without a little pepper in their life. Afeni’s parents are divorced and she rarely sees her father, she lives with her mother, who is a repentant recovering alcoholic. Afeni is also still haunted by the sudden violent death of her Grandmother, who was hit by a bus. Afeni is not happy when Rebecca a fifteen year old black girl from a poor family comes to live with them until she delivers her baby. Rebecca and Afeni do not get along for a lot of reasons but mostly because Afeni can’t imagine being fifteen and pregnant. She also resents Rebecca coming into her life and rocking the boat of a life she was just starting to get back on solid ground.
Of course over time Rebecca is able to express the loneliness she felt growing up in a poor black household with multiple siblings, and how her search for love didn’t just end up with pregnancy. Woodson does a great job in expressing that Rebecca’s baby isn’t unwanted it’s just untimely for her. Of course as someone much older than both Rebecca and Afeni I realize that the likelihood of Rebecca and David’s (her baby’s father) relationship lasting is low, I do think the book succeeds in making it seem like they odds are in their favor.
Over the course of the book both girls grow and become so close that if Rebecca’s baby is a girl she decides to name it Afeni. Which I feel obligated to say means “The Dear One” and isn’t just the name of Tupac Shakur’s mother.
Overall Rating 3/5