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I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This


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About the Author

Jacqueline Woodson ( is the recipient of a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children's Literature Legacy Award. She was the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and in 2015, she was named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She received the 2014 National Book Award for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award, and a Sibert Honor. She wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline 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 dozens of 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 New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me; 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. Jacqueline is also a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature and a two-time winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book 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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