cover image The Dear One

The Dear One

Jacqueline Woodson. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $14 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30416-0

Feni's visitor Rebecca, 15, comes from Harlem, is pregnant and is sleeping in Feni's room. It's almost too much for the 12-year-old to bear: she sees little enough of her corporate-executive mother without having to entertain her friend's daughter. Feni is determined to dislike Rebecca--until she realizes that the older girl's toughness is just a facade that hides a strong, nurturing young woman. When Rebecca's baby is born and she prepares to leave, Feni is faced with the unexpected prospect of losing her new friend. Peopled with strong African American female characters, this paradigm for understanding between social groups is written in a warm, rich style that creates an immediate intimacy with the players and issues. Woodson's deep understanding of and concern for the role of black women in society is evident as she eloquently introduces the reader to teenage pregnancy, alternate lifestyles and adoption in her moving, powerful story. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)