Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lov'n The Sun

From The Notebooks of Melanin Sun
Jacqueline Woodson
Blue Sky Press

Loved it! Melanin Sun is the only child of EC, a beautiful single mom working full-time and attending law school at night. Their relationship is close, the kind of relationship every parent wants to have with her child, especially a single mom of a black son. Melanin is dark, very dark. He's gifted and shy. In his own words he wears 'alone.' He has his close childhood buddies and he's got his first serious crush at almost fourteen. Besides trying to work up the nerve to talk to Angie, who is sooooo fine, he has no real worries until his mom brings home Kristen. Now, Melanin was quite happy that his mom showed no interest in marrying some guy, but when his mother reveals she loves Kristen, who is white on top of everything else, Melanin loses it. The revelation is not easy for Mel and there are some pretty tough words exchanged and a lot of hurt feelings, but their bond is strong.

One of the things I love about Woodson's work is that while her main characters are usually African American, race informs but is often not the central theme of the book. In Woodson's work, we see whole and functioning families and we see diversity in families. In this particular novel, it's a family of two: the mom is not a victim and the son is not caught up in a major crisis- well not until his mom tells him she's in love.

Another thing I appreciate about the author's work is that she typically doesn't wrap up stories fairy tale style. She's realistic and real can also mean hopeful. Woodson's narrative is uncluttered but the work has depth. Her writing style exudes a kind confidence that renders emotions palpable without being contrived or romanticized. Her characters engage in candid dialogue. This slim volume will appeal to reluctant readers and the subject matter will appeal to a broad audience from middle school through high school.

To read more books that address LBGT concerns, check out Lee Wind at I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I read?


Ali said...

Can you explain about the name? There has to be a story behind a name like Melanin Sun.

susan said...

Hi Ali, yes, there is. Mel is very dark. If I remember correctly, his mom tells him he was kissed by the sun.

Doret said...

This sounds really good. To me the title Melanin Sun refers to the Son dark skin tone. and possibly Sun not Son because he is his mother's whole world.

Terry Doherty said...

This sounds like a really great book. I like how you also draw in the author's style in other books.

susan said...

Hi ReadingTub,

Thanks for coming by and commenting.