When I read ‘The Dear One’ by Jacqueline Woodson, I don’t think I paid attention to who had written it. I forgot that much of her work focuses on young, Black girls and their coming of age. This is one of those, looking at when worlds and classes collide. One girl a pregnant teen, the other a middle-class kid going to private school with an attorney for a mother. Their lives intersect because the mother of the pregnant teen is an old friend of the other mother. The Dear One stayed with me because it underscored how little separates us, and how but for a simple twist of faith, any one of us could have lived very different lives. I recommend it, not just for adults, for teen girls.

The Dear OneThe Dear One by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. This one in some ways reminded me of ‘The First Part Last’ by Angela Johnson, another book that gave depth and character to teenage parents, portraying them as thoughtful and complex and in many ways fully cognizant of the seriousness of their situation. The idea that “they have no idea” and “don’t know what they’re doing” is both true and untrue, and when authors examine that paradox (or any paradox, honestly), it’s very satisfying. I especially liked that in this one, fifteen-year-old Rebecca’s pregnancy was seen through the eyes of Feni, an even younger girl, and together they grapple with its seriousness and consequences, and with the choices the grown-ups around them have made and are making. This was a short, quiet, impactful read. I recommend.

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Woman-Centered Fiction Writer, commenting on books, culture and the human condition.

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