Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

A 2008 Newbery Honor Book

Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all - Emily Dickinson

"I guess the writer was thinking about how light feathers are and they can just float everywhere. And I guess that's how hope is too--all light and everywhere like that. There's hope in this house. And at your church. And at OnePeople. At our school. Across the highway and on this side too. Everywhere."
- quote from Feathers

Eleven-year-old Frannie is wondering about hope. Her mother has experienced two miscarriages but is pregnant again. Her sister Lila died as a baby. Her older brother Sean is deaf. Her grandmother and best friend Samantha are very spiritual and religious. To top it all off, there is a new boy in class - the only white boy in a school of African-Americans - who the bully Trevor picks on and calls "Jesus."

This novella is too slow and subtle for my taste, and yet I also think it borders on being preachy. But there is still plenty to like about it! I like how it is a story about family. I like the poetic main character Frannie and the other characters. I especially like how Feathers explores "looking beneath the surface" of people and the many shapes, sizes, and colors of hope. This book left me feeling more compassionate towards other people and, yes, it left me feeling hopeful about, well, everything. :)

Tarie's "feathers" (at the risk of bordering on being preachy myself):

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)


Maw Books said…
Moving through the Newbery's! I enjoyed Jacqueline Woodson's website and she has perked my curiosity into some of her other books. I teach my two little boys sign language so I enjoyed the little tidbits of sign language in this book. I recognized most all of them.

Do you have any other great YA lit books to recommend? As though I don't have enough on my reading list already!
Tarie said…
Have you read The Invention of Hugo Cabret? I highly recommend it! I'll get back to you with even more recommendations. ;)

It is so cool that you are teaching your sons sign language! I enjoyed the jive talk in Feathers. *giggle
Tarie said…
Oops, that's supposed to be: *giggle*.
Anonymous said…
Wow that book sounds like it's pretty heavy! Miscarriages, outsiderness, deafness.... thanks for the book review, I love getting a friend's perspective on novels. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)
Tarie said…
Hi, Ari! How are you? :o) Some heavy things happen, but the writer has a "light touch" and "hope" is really in the atmosphere of the novel. :o)