cover image From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

Jacqueline Woodson. Scholastic, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-590-45880-1

Woodson's (I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This) perceptively wrought novel imaginatively tackles such weighty issues as racism and sexuality. At age 13, Melanin Sun, an African American boy growing up in Brooklyn with his single mother, sometimes longs for the days when life was as ``simple as chocolate cakes and Lego sets.'' Instead, his feelings grow more complicated after his mother explains that she is gay and in love with Kristin, the white woman whom she has recently invited home. ``You're a dyke! A dyke!'' he screams at her, enraged. His shock and sense of alienation are quickly exacerbated when the neighbors begin to gossip and he becomes the object of cruel taunts. Through Melanin's voice, Woodson frankly expresses the resentment and confusion of an adolescent desperately struggling to reestablish normalcy. She shatters stereotypes even as she evokes the tenderness of a mother/son relationship. Offering no easy answers, Woodson teaches the reader that love can lead to acceptance of all manner of differences. Ages 12-up. (May)