Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson is a 2008 Newbery Honor book about finding hope. It is truly a deep book. I am glad I read it, but I am now a little confused about what to do with it.
Frannie, the main character, is struggling in her small world filled with disappointments, challenges, bullies, friends, family, and race. Sounds like a lot? Yeah, that is what I thought too. Frannie lives in an area where everyone is like her, black. When a new boy comes to her school, the class begins to call him "Jesus boy" because of his white skin and longish hair. The class, along with Frannie struggles with just exactly who this stranger is and why he has come into their lives. At the same time Frannie is dealing with the fact that her mother who has lost several babies is now pregnant. She is also living with a deaf brother. WHOA... STOP... information overload!
What I liked about the book was it showed race issues from a new perspective. The book is set in the 1970s which is different from most books covering this topic typically set in the 60s. I also liked that the emotions ran deep on both sides of the topic. There was perspective from both sides of the coin. I also thought the "jive talk" was fun in this story.
Which brings me to the next point. I think this would be a great read aloud but it would have to be a very detailed read aloud with a lot of explanation. I think if I ever had my own children, I would read this book aloud to them. Here is a short video clip for the story. This clip, plus lots more useful information can be found on Jacqueline Woodson's website.