Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

feathers book

      Feathers, published in 2007, is a short YA novel that is set in the 1970’s and told from the point of view of Frannie (although that is not her real name), a sixth grade African American girl with an older brother named Sean, who is deaf. Sean taught Frannie sign language and sign language plays a big part in this novel. Feathers focuses for the most part on Frannie’s home life with her brother, mother and father, their neighborhood, and her life at Price, the school she attends. Frannie, her friends and her schoolmates have never gone to school with someone who is white, until one day a light-skinned, light-haired boy who goes by the name of Jesus shows up. All the students start referring to him as Jesus Boy and some of them even wonder if the real Jesus has shown up as a kid in their school.

     This book deals with a lot of different and sometimes difficult issues such as class, race, disability, hope and death. Some of my favorite parts of this book were the scenes between Frannie and her brother Sean when they are communicating together using sign language. Sean is the dreamer in the family and through Sean, Frannie begins to embrace her imagination instead of relying solely on facts as she knows them. Feathers would be a great book choice for anyone who has ever been the new kid in school or for anyone who has ever been curious about sign language.

The title, by the way, comes from the line in Emily Dickinson’s poem #314:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

                                                                                                                 emily dickinson hope

Posted by Naptharoe

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2 thoughts on “Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

  1. One of the things that I love about Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson is that it is told in first person through the young voice of the protagonist. It makes the novel even more relevant and relatable to its adolescent readers. And it is also interesting to compare Feathers to a novel that has a more serious adult voice like let’s say The Bluest Eye or To Kill A Mockingbird; they are all books to include in an adolescent classroom yet so different.

    MM

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