From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

January 16, 2013

By Jacqueline Woodson
Reviewed By Maddie Meagher
Rated 4 out of 5 stars

“I frowned and thought about how stupid people can be sometimes. They’re always asking me how does it feel not to have a father. How can I know the answer to that? I don’t have anything to compare it to. It feels the way it feels. Like if you were born blind. I hate when people start talking about how they feel sorry for blind people because they can’t see the beauty of a rainbow or the soft yellows and grays and browns of newborn kittens. Like a blind person’s life isn’t as good because they don’t have something that other people have.”

Melanin Sun is fourteen years old and has a lot to say. He worries about the oceans, his mother, his friends Ralph and Sean, and a lot about a girl named Angie. When he can’t find the words to express to people how he’s really feeling, he turns to his notebooks, which he fills with all of his worries, thoughts and emotions. There has never been a lot of change in Melanin’s life. For as long as he can remember, it has been just him and his mom living in a primarily black neighborhood in Brooklyn. He has always spent lots of time with his mom, sharing everything with her. Nowadays, though, it seems they’re drifting apart. When Melanin’s mother reveals something she’s been hiding for a long time, his life is eternally altered. He is left with lots to think about, and even more to write about. He is angry and terrified as to what this will mean for his relationship with his mother and just about everyone he knows. What has become of his old life and the content family he used to know?

Jacqueline Woodson does a remarkable job at writing a real, down to earth depiction of a young teen’s world being turned upside- down. Told through the eyes of Melanin, this story transfers emotions through words, making it easy to empathize with the main character. The difficult issues he faces are common among teens throughout our society. Woodson writes the story of a boy coming to realize the world is not just the neighborhood and familiar hometown streets he knows, but a much larger, more interesting place with an array of people and varying ways of life. I would recommend this book to people who could enjoy a story of new discovery and dramatic change told from the perspective of a teen boy. Jacqueline Woodson’s talent as an author is her ability to connect her readers with the lives of her characters, creating an intriguing story.

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