Hush

Hush

4.3 32
by Jacqueline Woodson
     
 

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A powerfully moving novel from a three-time Newbery Honor-winning author

Evie Thomas is not who she used to be. Once she had a best friend, a happy home and a loving grandmother living nearby. Once her name was Toswiah.

Now, everything is different. Her family has been forced to move to a new place and change their identities. But that's not all that has

Overview

A powerfully moving novel from a three-time Newbery Honor-winning author

Evie Thomas is not who she used to be. Once she had a best friend, a happy home and a loving grandmother living nearby. Once her name was Toswiah.

Now, everything is different. Her family has been forced to move to a new place and change their identities. But that's not all that has changed. Her once lively father has become depressed and quiet. Her mother leaves teaching behind and clings to a new-found religion. Her only sister is making secret plans to leave.

And Evie, struggling to find her way in a new city where kids aren't friendly and the terrain is as unfamiliar as her name, wonders who she is.

Jacqueline Woodson weaves a fascinating portrait of a thoughtful young girl's coming of age in a world turned upside down

A National Book Award Finalist

Editorial Reviews

Finalist for the 2002 National Book Award, Young People's Literature

The Barnes & Noble Review
Jacqueline Woodson, the acclaimed author of such award winners as Miracle's Boys and If You Come Softly, has given us a remarkable novel about one girl's struggle with identity during her family's involvement in the witness protection program.

Through Woodson's poetic prose, we learn about Toswiah's father's testimony against two fellow policemen, her family's clandestine move, and finally, her confusion over her name change to Evie Thomas. In this strange new world, she copes with family members' similar struggles and tries to build a new school life and personality. Woodson provides complex social situations and real personalities in Hush, and as her fans have come to appreciate in her other novels, she paints a quietly intense picture without getting bogged down in dramatics. This tour de force will move and inspire you. Matt Warner

Kathleen Odean
In Woodson's thought-provoking novel, thirteen-year-old Toswiah must take on a new identity when her family enters a witness protection program. Her father, an African-American police officer, has testified against white officers who killed a black teenager. Threats follow, and Toswiah's family moves to an unidentified town to start life over. Toswiah, now called Evie, and her parents and sister cope in different ways, not always successfully, with the painful consequences of the father's act of courage.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Toswiah Green's father, witness to a murder, does the right thing by testifying against two fellow police officers, he puts his entire family in danger. Now the Greens have fled for their lives, leaving behind all that is comfortable and familiar for the alien existences laid out by the witness protection program. Shifting between past and present, Woodson's (Miracle's Boys; If You Come Softly) introspective novel probes the complex reactions of 12-year-old Toswiah as she reluctantly reinvents herself as Evie Thomas. Telling lies about her past is as awkward for Toswiah as her adjustment to a new apartment, city and school, but most disturbing of all is the fragmentation of her formerly close-knit family. Toswiah's mother, searching for meaning and for support, becomes an avid Jehovah's Witness. Mr. Green slips into suicidal depression, and Toswiah's older sister, unbeknownst to their parents, arranges to enter college at 15. "Evie/Toswiah Thomas/Green," as the narrator once refers to herself, taps hidden stores of inner strength, ultimately realizing that "I am no longer who I was in Denver, but at least and at most I am." Readers facing their own identity crises will find familiar conflicts magnified and exponentially compounded here, yet instantly recognizable and optimistically addressed. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
When Toswiah Green's father, witness to a murder, does the right thing by testifying against two fellow police officers, he puts his entire family in danger. Now the Greens have fled for their lives, leaving behind all that is comfortable and familiar for the alien existences laid out by the witness protection program. Shifting between past and present, Woodson's (Miracle's Boys; If You Come Softly) introspective novel probes the complex reactions of 12-year-old Toswiah as she reluctantly reinvents herself as Evie Thomas. Telling lies about her past is as awkward for Toswiah as her adjustment to a new apartment, city and school, but most disturbing of all is the fragmentation of her formerly close-knit family. Toswiah's mother, searching for meaning and for support, becomes an avid Jehovah's Witness. Mr. Green slips into suicidal depression, and Toswiah's older sister, unbeknownst to their parents, arranges to enter college at 15. "Evie/Toswiah Thomas/Green," as the narrator once refers to herself, taps hidden stores of inner strength, ultimately realizing that "I am no longer who I was in Denver, but at least and at most I am." Readers facing their own identity crises will find familiar conflicts magnified and exponentially compounded here, yet instantly recognizable and optimistically addressed. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
The girls' mother has escaped into religious fanaticism; their father into depression. Why? The family's life was a happy one in Denver when the father, a police officer, decided to testify against a fellow officer in the shooting death of a young African American teenager. This decision changed everything because it was necessary for the family to completely close off their past lives and enter a witness protection program with new identities. Even though this situation only affects a miniscule number of teenagers, it is a dilemma that will capture most adolescents' imaginations. My God, what if tomorrow I had to start a completely new life in a new town with a new name—and I had to lie about everything and everyone in my past? The narrator is Toswiah, who is now known as Evie. She is a young teenager with an older sister now called Anna. Much of the book is taken up with the facts of their lives in Denver, and the events that happened that drove the girls' father to make the excruciating decision to betray the code police operate under, to always defend one another. Part of the reason is that Evie and her family are black, living for the most part assimilated in a white world. But when white officers kill a black boy, and Evie's father is a witness to this blatantly racist act (he doesn't believe the boy would have been shot so quickly if he were white), Evie's father feels he must end this kind of police corruption by convicting the guilty officers...even if this means the ruin of his own family. Woodson is one of the best novelists we have in the YA field. She brings poetry to her prose and always a deep understanding of emotional upheaval, especially felt by those in crisis. Herexploration of gender and racial issues in our society is done in such a way that her readers must reflect as they absorb Woodson's work, as they contemplate the characters and plot Woodson creates. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 2001, Penguin, Putnam, 179p., Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; KLIATT
VOYA
Toswiah is twelve when her family enters the witness protection program. Her police officer father breaks the "Blue Wall of Silence" and testifies against fellow officers accused in the death of an unarmed young African American. The threats of violence escalate until the family members go into hiding, leaving behind their cat, relatives, and their family identity and history. Toswiah's older sister, Cameron, begins to plan her escape, her father drifts slowly into mental illness, and her mother embraces the Jehovah's Witness religion, much to her children's dismay. Toswiah, on her own in a new school where she is not encouraged to make friends, turns to track to pound out some of her frustration and anguish. This understated, memorable novel tells of a family's response to crisis when facing the challenge of righting an injustice. Woodson's dreamlike writing mirrors Toswiah's almost trancelike state as she is pulled from one life and plunged into a new role—that of Evie, her assumed name for an assumed life. The spare, poetic prose underscores the loss felt by each family member. As healing begins, there is hope that Toswiah's family will reconnect and redefine its future. This complex novel is written in a deceptively simple style. There are parallels and symbolism to generate discussion, but the bottom line is that Woodson is a graceful storyteller, skilled at expressing emotions and encouraging thought in a few, well-chosen words. Hush is not a thriller like Lois Duncan's Don't Look Behind You (Delacorte, 1989/VOYA August 1989), based on a similar theme. Woodson's tale will intrigue readers searching for the meaning of family, justice, and sacrifice. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J(Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2002, Putnam's, 192p, $15.99. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Judy Sasges SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
Children's Literature
Evie Thomas's life is empty. Everything is gone-her pleasant home in Denver, her friends, even her name. Since her policeman father broke "The Blue Wall of Silence" and testified against his fellow officers who may have committed a murder, Evie's family has had to relocate and assume new identities. And no one seems to be coping well with the new situation. Evie's sister, Anna, is angry and bitter. Their mother has taken refuge in God, joining in with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Their father sinks into a depression and sits staring out the window for the better part of each day. As for Evie, she just feels sad and empty inside. The atmosphere in the tiny apartment grows more suffocating with each passing chapter as conditions in the family's new life deteriorate. Evie struggles to get through each day in a world gone wrong. After her father breaks down completely, Evie finally finds a method of escape—in the form of a pair of running shoes. Coretta Scott King Award winner Jacqueline Woodson has assembled a realistically depressing cast of characters, and allows a glimmer of hope to creep in at the end.
—Christopher Moning
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-How do you know who you are when your past has been taken away? This complex coming-of-age story unfolds as Evie Thomas (nee Toswiah Green) tries to make sense of her life, to discover who she is now, while remembering her past happy existence. The younger daughter in a successful African-American family, the 12-year-old's life is ripped apart when her policeman father testifies against his comrades in a racially motivated shooting, placing his family in jeopardy. Now they are living in a strange city in the Witness Protection Program. They have new names, new identities, no friends, and no history. Evie's mother has taken refuge in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, her father sits in front of the window day after day, and her older sister is looking for a way to escape this less-than-ideal reality. Evie must come to terms with her new life and create a present and future for herself even though she no longer has a past. This multifaceted novel from the talented Woodson may be too introspective for some readers, but those sophisticated enough to manage the intricacies of the story will come away with images and characters who are impossible to forget.-Sharon Grover, Arlington County Department of Libraries, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After Toswiah's father, a black policeman who loves and believes in the moral rightness of his profession, makes the excruciating decision to testify against two white cops who shot and killed an unarmed black boy, Toswiah and her family enter the witness-protection program. Toswiah Green, now Evie Thomas, watches helplessly as her once rock-solid family falls apart. Her father, previously a strong, competent man, spends his days sitting silently by the window, lost in tortured thoughts and smelling like old laundry, "right there but slipping away." Evie's mother, currently cut off from her adored profession of teaching children, has turned to God, becoming another kind of witness, this time for Jehovah. To cope, 13-year-old Evie and her older sister Cameron, now Anna, try not to think about the present but instead move into "the far, far future," a time when their lives will be settled and sane. Written as Toswiah/Evie's diary in a fluid almost impressionist style that keeps the reader at a distance, Woodson paints a portrait of people who have made the agonizing journey from being somebody to nobody. She's interested in exploring what makes the core "I am" of a person, who they are when everything-friends, community, profession, even their names-has been stripped from them. Intellectually engaging yet strangely unmoving, this unusual story about a cut-off child seeking to reconnect and belong will give youngsters plenty to think about. (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142415511
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
01/07/2010
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
98,976
Product dimensions:
5.46(w) x 8.21(h) x 0.57(d)
Lexile:
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 4

In fifth grade our teacher asked us to write about the most wonderful thing we’d ever seen. I sat in class tapping my pencil against my head trying to remember the colors of butterflies’ wings and how the deep blue-green water of Glenwood Springs made you think of something that went on forever. But none of the things that came to my mind was the prettiest. When I started writing, it was about my father, the year he won the police department’s Medal for Bravery for rescuing a mother and her baby son from a man who was holding them hostage. He’d been a cop all of my life, and I had never really thought much about what he did or what it meant. On the morning of the ceremony, my father wore his other uniform—a dark jacket with a leather belt, brass buttons and gold epaulets at the shoulders. When he walked into the living room, my sister and I stopped fighting over the TV remote and stared at him. We had never seen him dressed this way, and he looked like the tallest, proudest, most beautiful man that ever lived.

Why are you copper pennies sitting there with your mouths opened? he said laughing. You act like you’ve never seen me before in your life.

And we hadn’t—Not like that. Not standing there looking like someone who would protect us from the world ending. Someone who could, if he had to, push us behind him then stop an oncoming bullet with his hand.

Daddy…, my sister said, you look awesome.

That morning, as I sat there between Cameron and Mama in the audience listening to the lieutenant go on about my father’s bravery, I felt like I was someone special. Like all of us were special.

Things fall apart. I know this now. Sometimes it happens fast—like the time my sister came down wrong on her ankle and missed a whole season of cheerleading. What I remember is her sitting in her room every night, crying. Or the time my mother cut her finger with a steak knife. While my father rushed her to the hospital, Cameron and I were left to finish dinner, get it on the table and sit there for two hours, staring at our food. Scared that Mama would come back one finger short of the hand she had left with.

But sometimes things fall apart slowly. When the lieutenant pinned that medal to my father’s chest, it was the beginning of the Green ending. Months later, my father would say When I saw you all sitting in that front row cheering me on, some little seed started to grow in my brain. He said it was a seed of faith in his family and the Denver Police Department. A seed that made him believe in the possibility of perfection . . . and trust . . . and loyalty. As my father looked out at us from the stage while reporters flashed pictures and other cops shook his hand, he smiled and winked at me. I winked back, not knowing that what was growing in his mind was a seed of justice that would one day lead to the biggest decision he’d ever have to make in his life.

Mama raised her hand to her lips and blew Dad a kiss. Then we were being called up to the stage, all of us, hugging Daddy and smiling for the press. Perfect, one reporter said. Absolutely perfect.

And for years, I believed we were.

The night after the shooting, I came downstairs to find my father sitting on the couch staring into the darkness. I sat beside him and we talked quietly—about school and friends and Cameron and Mama. We talked around the shooting until he made me go back to bed. After that, I came downstairs every night, after Mama and Cameron had gone to bed. Maybe it was because I insisted on sitting awhile in the dark with him night after night. Maybe it was because I was his baby daughter, the one who’d still be there after my big sister was gone. Or maybe it was just because he needed someone to talk to. For whatever reason, my father began to reveal what happened in bits and pieces. What I learned in those late-night talks was that my father had witnessed a murder. A fifteen-year-old boy had been killed by two cops who were close to our family. My father wouldn’t tell me their names at first, but he said over and over, Something’s got to be done, Toswiah. It isn’t justice. It isn’t right.

I knew something had to be done, but more than that I knew if the cops were in my daddy’s precinct, they’d been at one of my birthday parties, had given me a lift home from school, had pulled my braid at some point in my life and handed me a toy or book or lollipop. I’d grown up with the cops in Denver and couldn’t imagine any of them shooting a boy. Again and again I saw the ghost-boy falling but couldn’t see the face of the cop who held the gun. Again and again I tried to think of which cop it could be until the hand holding the gun followed me into my dreams, to school, even to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

The boy was an honor student, the only child of a high school English teacher. A single mom. The boy was only in tenth grade but was already getting mail from colleges. My father knew all this from newspaper reports he’d read and research he’d done. Even though the cops had said they thought the boy reached for a gun, my father knew it wasn’t true. As my father talked about the boy, he became more real. I didn’t know his name, but I felt like I didn’t have to. He was black and I was black, and maybe somewhere along the way we would’ve met. Maybe we would’ve become friends. I imagined the boy holding a basketball above his head, saying Like this, Toswiah. Just let it roll off your fingers and fly. I imagined us riding bikes around the neighborhood, stopping to buy ice- cream cones double-dipped in rainbow sprinkles. When he smiled, his whole face melted into something soft and amazing. People waved and smiled back. People called out to us. Hey Raymond! Hey Toswiah! I imagined his mother walking into his empty room and calling his name, standing there all night long waiting for him to answer.

My father said, What would you do, T?

I shrugged, and stared down at my hands. What’s the right thing, Daddy?

Exactly, he said, frowning into the darkness. He sighed and kissed my head. Both choices seem so damn wrong..

Then he sent me off to bed.

I lay in bed and stared up at the ceiling all night. I thought about my father—how the love I felt for him some days made my throat hollow out. I thought about his smile, the way it always came, shy and slow, and the way his eyes lit up when me and my sister appeared suddenly, riding our bikes alongside of his patrol car. I thought about the way he used to braid my hair on Sundays, how his hands felt soft and sure. Wherever he went, I’d go. I couldn’t imagine a world, a life, a day without him.

I closed my eyes then, trying to imagine what it felt like to watch someone die, someone innocent and scared. Pictures flashed in and out of my brain—that boy crying out then falling; my father running to him; the other cops standing there, their hands dumbly hanging at their sides. The echo of the gunshots. Everyone’s surprise.

Outside my window, the moon hung down low, close to the mountains. Every now and then, a cloud moved past it.

Cops murdering. Cops murdering a black kid. White cops murdering a black kid. My father turning at the first shot to see the kid standing there, his arms raised above his head. The second and third shots. The kid falling. My father’s face, first surprise, then anger, then fear maybe—that his friends could do this, could be so afraid of a black boy that they could shoot without thinking, without remembering that he, Officer Green, was black, that black wasn’t a dangerous thing.

"No . . . ," my father said softly, the way he says it now when he sits alone at the window. "God, please, no.…"

Outside my window, the night got darker, then slowly faded to gray.

Officer Randall, my father said slowly when I asked him for the fifth time who the cops were. Randall and Dennis, Toswiah. That’s who killed the boy.

As he said their names, the floor began to slide out from beneath me. Mr. Randall and Mr. Dennis. Men I had known my whole life. Officer Dennis, who always had a silly joke to tell (Hey Toswiah, what do you get when you cross a skunk and peanut butter? Something very smelly sticking to the roof of your mouth!) and Officer Randall, who was tall and gray-eyed and had a son named Joseph, who Cameron was in love with.

"He came out of nowhere," Officer Randall had said, his hands shaking, his face crumbling with the horror of what he’d just done. After a moment, he added, "He startled us, Green."

Officer Dennis was there, turning toward my father, easing his gun back into the holster, his voice unsure. "We thought he had a gun. He was going for something." Then cursing, his bottom lip starting to quiver with the weight of it all.

"He was facing you," my father said. "He was coming toward you with his hands up."

Then Officer Dennis’s voice drops just the tiniest bit. His eyes narrow. I swallow. I’ve known Officer Dennis all my life, but in this moment, I don’t know him at all.

"We thought he had a gun!"

Meet the Author

Born on February 12th in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She now writes full-time and has recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her other awards include three Newbery Honors, two Coretta Scott King awards, two National Book Award finalists, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Although she spends most of her time writing, Woodson also enjoys reading the works of emerging writers and encouraging young people to write, spending time with her friends and her family, and sewing. Jacqueline Woodson currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

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Hush 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book Hush it is a book that teens can relate to without getting tired of reading it every chapter makes you want to read more and more I will keep in touch with her books because they all have a meaning to them that I can never forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this in school and i was in a book group so I was only allowed to read a certain number of chapters at a time but i wanted to keep reading, I could not stop! Read it! By Ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It suspenceful book that you should read. It teaches you a different piont of view. That you never seen
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book title and author: Hush, Jacqueline Woodson Title of review: 8th Grade, Ritchie County Middle School; great book Number of stars (1 to 5): Introduction Jacqueline Woodson yet again shows of her brilliance in her book entitled Hush. Woodson creates a reality of the Green family's troubles and dilemmas. Description and summary of main points Toswiah Green has her whole world flipped upside down when her father chooses to testify against a fellow policeman. Toswiah and her family are forced to change their identity, but this is the least of her problems. The Greens were forced to keep quiet about everything going on in their lives. Evaluation I love how the book was such an unusual situation. The majority of the book was unexpected. Conclusion Woodson produces an amazing piece of work. Your final review This book was very touching. I definitely recommend this book, and this author.
otulissa More than 1 year ago
this book is good for younger readers. I personally found it a bit dull when comapred to the other books I've read and felt it could use deeper characters. The main character is likable and you do feel sorry for her as she wacthed her family fall apart.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an outstanding book. I read it from the library. I could not even return it. I think that it is important for young people and has a great moral to it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Can you imagine having to change your whole life? Loose your best friend, your home and everything you love? Well that¿s what happened to Toswiah, a twelve-year-old girl who had the ¿typical¿ life of a teen. In this fictional story Toswiah and her family had to move because her father was a witness in a crime. This whole thing turned into a racial issue. Their lives started to be in danger because some people didn¿t want her father to tell the truth about the crime. The family had to move and change their identities, but this was just the beginning of their new life and they also changed their personalities and their actions because of the hard situation they went through. Toswiah¿s father spends most of his time looking out the window, her mom has found a new religion that she is so involved in, and her sister is making some sort of plan to get out of the house. Then there is Toswiah, feeling very lost, frustrated, and very lonely, who can¿t express her feelings to anybody. I have never read a book this intense, powerful and interesting. Jacqueline Woodson tells the life of a young girl in such a realistic way that you can actually feel the sadness and the pain that Toswiah went through. I recommend this book to anyone who has been through any situation that has made them change their life forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought Hush was pretty good. It was sad but it makes you think about all the stuff you take for granted and makes you wonder what you would be like if you were in this kind of situation. I am a very young author and I think it was terrificly written!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought the book was great. It made me think about alot of things and i would recommend it to people. It wasn't the best i've seen Jacqueline Woodson do but it was great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a really good book thats all i should have to say because it was good. i read it in 2 days. it makes u keep reading this depressing yet wonderful story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want to read a good book, than this is the kind of book you need to read. This is the best book I have ever read, so I think you should read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was ok, defeintly not one of her best. i didn't like it too much, i thought it was sad, but it had a pretty good ending.