Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

 There’s a new boy in Frannie’s class. He’s different.  For one thing, he’s white, which is a big deal on this side of town.  The other noticeable difference is that he has long hair down to his shoulders.  The kids in the class dub him Jesus Boy.

Frannie is interested in the new boy, but she has plenty to think about at home.  Momma is pregnant again and Frannie is praying that this time they don’t lose the baby.  Her brother Sean is deaf, but has begun to discover the world despite his disability.

The bully at school, Trevor, doesn’t help Frannie’s to calm her mind either.  He’s constantly trying to stir up trouble, including provoking Jesus Boy.  All of these anxieties cause Frannie to ruminate continuously on the nature of relationships, God and hope.

This was a Newberry Honor book in 2008.  To me, this book seemed a bit meandering, as if Jaqueline Woodson wasn’t quite sure what type of book she wanted.  The writing is strong, but the storyline could use a bit more pop to grab younger readers.  Recommend to ages 10 to 13.

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