cover image Remember Us

Remember Us

Jacqueline Woodson. Penguin/Paulsen, $18.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-399-54546-7

Black 11-year-old Sage, a Bushwick native, questions the meaning of memory and struggles with self-image as houses begin mysteriously burning down throughout her neighborhood, newly dubbed “The Matchbox.” After Sage’s firefighter father dies in the line of duty, her mother saves money in the hope of one day moving them out of town. Despite the growing worry that permeates her community, Sage is reluctant to leave, and spends her time playing basketball with local boys. But some of the boys make fun of her for participating in the sport (“You shoot that ball like you think you a dude or something,” one taunts), prompting Sage to wrestle with gender norms and feelings of self-doubt. When another fire results in further tragedy, Sage is forced to reckon with her community, her future, and the power of legacy. Woodson (Before the Ever After) draws on her experiences growing up in Bushwick in the 1970s and ’80s to craft a nostalgic-feeling ode to the unexpected. Short chapters offer swift glimpses into momentous happenings in Sage’s life, while organic dialogue and mesmerizing prose lay bare a narrative that encourages learning to move with the ebbs and flows of life. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)