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I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This


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About the Author

Jacqueline Woodson ( is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and she received the 2018 Children's Literature Legacy Award. She is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir BROWN GIRL DREAMING, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, the NAACP Image Award and the Sibert Honor Award. Woodson was recently named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Her recent adult book, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist. Born on February 12th in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include THE OTHER SIDE, EACH KINDNESS, Caldecott Honor Book COMING ON HOME SOON; Newbery Honor winners FEATHERS, SHOW WAY, and AFTER TUPAC AND D FOSTER, and MIRACLE'S BOYS--which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award and was adapted into a miniseries directed by Spike Lee. Jacqueline is also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature, the winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and was the 2013 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.


Gr 7 Up-This exceptional book is told from the viewpoint of Marie, a popular eighth grader in a predominantly black, middle-class school. When a poor white girl shows up mid-term, Marie finds herself drawn to Lena; both have recently lost their mothers. Despite social and familial pressures, an awkward friendship develops. Then Lena blurts out that her father is molesting her. Marie avoids her, unable to face the awfulness of what she's been told. When Lena confronts her, Marie in turn doubts that she is telling the truth, blames her friend, and then feels impotent rage. Lena shouts back, "`Don't be hating me. It ain't about me!'" Far from being a diatribe on child abuse, this novel explores the complex and often contradictory responses of individuals-and society-to the plight of abused children. With searing honesty, Woodson shows Lena's father for the damaged and pitiful person that he is. She raises questions for which society has no answers. By skillfully weaving together themes of abandonment, emotional maturation, and friendship across social and economic barriers, the author goes far deeper than the typical ``problem novel.'' Lena's tragedy-her only recourse is to take her sister and run-is balanced by Marie's ability to come to terms with the loss of her mother and by her decision to tell her friend's story so that ``maybe someday other girls like you and me can fly through this stupid world without being afraid.'' Lena's hope lies in the fact that she does break through, express her anger, and get out. While there are no easy answers for either girl, there is honesty, growth, and love in their relationship that gives young readers hope for the future.-Carolyn Polese, Humboldt State Univ., Arcata, CA

This sensitive yet gritty novel about incest may be Woodson's ( Between Madison and Palmetto ) strongest work to date. Marie, the eighth-grade narrator, lives in an all-black suburb of Athens, Ohio, with her father; her mother, who has inherited money from her own parents, sends arty messages from the far-flung locales she has toured since leaving the family two years ago. Ignoring the sneers of her friends--and her father's warnings--Marie befriends ``whitetrash'' Lena, the new girl at school. Woodson confronts sticky questions about race head-on, with the result that her observations and her characterizations are all the more trustworthy. Her approach to the incest theme is less immediate but equally convincing--Marie receives Lena's restrained confidences about being molested, at first disbelieving Lena, then torn between her desire to help her friend and her promise not to tell anyone. Lena has tried all the textbook solutions--including reporting her father to the authorities--and has learned that outside interference only brings more trouble. Marie, struggling to cope with her mother's desertion, must accept Lena's disappearance, too, when Lena and her younger sister first decide to run away and then do flee. Told in adroitly sequenced flashbacks, Woodson's novel is wrenchingly honest and, despite its sad themes, full of hope and inspiration. Ages 12-up. (May)

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