Frannie reads a poem in school by Emily Dickinson with a line that she remembers: "Hope is the thing with feathers." Set in the early 1970s, this book is about things an eleven-year-old girl learns about herself as she interacts with her family and peers. Frannie's older brother is good-looking and deaf, and her best friend is trying to reconcile her religious upbringing with reality, which is sometimes disappointing.
Frannie's mother is expecting a baby, but since she has lost three babies in the past, the whole family is a little worried. A new boy in school looks white and experiences bullying at the hands of some students in their class. Through interactions with these characters, Frannie tries to do the right thing, and hang on to hope.
Jacqueline Woodson's writing is beautiful. Characters around the protagonist deal with interesting problems, but none of them are exactly resolved. There are musical references from the time period thrown in, and some of these and other cultural references seem like they are trying too hard to show the setting, rather than being necessary to the story. This book has many positive elements, but there is a sense that there are three or four other untold stories going on, and that those might be more riveting than the one being told from this protagonist's point of view. Locomotion, by this same author, is outstanding, and more compelling to me.
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