As I mentioned last week with my post on THE YEAR OF BOOK, I was inspired to pick up a few middle grades that I hadn't read before. One of them is HUSH by Jacqueline Woodson. I was so glad I did.
Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
Toswiah Green. Evie Thomas. One girl. Two names. Two lives. When her
police officer father witnesses two white cops killing a black boy, he
makes the heart-wrenching decision to testify against his former
friends. Overnight, thanks to the witness protection program, Toswiah
becomes Evie, and she and her family leave their idyllic Denver,
Colorado, life far behind. Toswiah's previously happy, lighthearted
mother abruptly turns to religion, her big sister makes secret plans to
escape the family, and her proud father collapses inward to a
depressed, almost catatonic state. Adolescent Toswiah--now Evie--copes
as best she can, taking up track and field in school, and trying to
fathom who she is, and who she is becoming. Jacqueline Woodson, Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of Miracle's Boys
and many other highly acclaimed titles, delves deep into the confused
hearts of a family that has lost its identity. Toswiah, as a young
teenager, was already on the verge of shaping her identity as a young
woman; with these shattering events, it takes every ounce of strength
and courage to keep her core intact. (Ages 13 and older)
The title for HUSH comes from the lullaby: "Hush little baby, don't say a word..."
HUSH is not an easy book to read. It brought me to tears at times. But that is what I love about Woodson's writing. It is raw and sparse, and conveys so much emotion.
There isn't a lot of action in the book. Much of the main action happens off screen or in the past. But I couldn't put this book down. I couldn't help but feel for Toswiah/Evie, the hard choice her father made, and the repercussions on her family. I will be thinking about this book for a long time.
Some of my favorite lines:
"Me and Cameron sat there, my love for Daddy blossoming and into something deeper; Cameron's disgust growing fast as a weed."
"I smile and take my father's hand, thinking My life is a rewrite. I hope this is the last revision."
I have seen various category designations for this book. Toswiah/Evie is 13 at the time of the book, and her voice is middle grade, but many of the topics are weighty for this age group. Although most of the violence takes place off screen, I would consider this an upper middle grade book.
Jacqueline Woodson was a National Book Award finalist for HUSH. She's also won three Newberry medals. More info about HUSH's other awards and why she wrote it is on her website.
For more Marvelous Middle Grade titles, please see Shannon Messenger's blog. She is the author of KEEPER OF LOST CITIES (MG) series and SKY FALL (YA).
What inspiring middle grades have you read lately?