The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

( 1 )

Overview


Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods’ moving, uplifting story of a girl finally meeting the African American side of her family explores racism and how it feels to be biracial, and celebrates families of all kinds.

Violet is biracial, but she lives with her white mother and sister, attends a mostly white school in a white town, and sometimes feels like a brown leaf on a pile of snow. Now that she’s eleven, she feels it’s time to learn about her African American ...

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The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

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Overview


Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods’ moving, uplifting story of a girl finally meeting the African American side of her family explores racism and how it feels to be biracial, and celebrates families of all kinds.

Violet is biracial, but she lives with her white mother and sister, attends a mostly white school in a white town, and sometimes feels like a brown leaf on a pile of snow. Now that she’s eleven, she feels it’s time to learn about her African American heritage, so she seeks out her paternal grandmother. When Violet is invited to spend two weeks with her new Bibi (Swahili for "grandmother") and learns about her lost heritage, her confidence in herself grows and she discovers she’s not a shrinking Violet after all. From a Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author, this is a powerful story about a young girl finding her place in the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/28/2013
Woods (Saint Louis Armstrong Beach) returns with the story of 11-year old Violet Diamond, who is struggling with her biracial identity; the novel handles big-picture topics well, but falters with its energy and authenticity. Violet is the daughter of an African-American father, who died in a car accident two months before her birth, and a white mother. Violet’s Seattle suburb is largely white, and Violet feels angry and confused by the puzzlement people display when they see her with her white family. Motivated by a dream about her father, Violet reaches out to cultivate a relationship with her paternal grandmother and her father’s family, whom she has never met. The subdued, meandering nature of the story and Violet’s overly formal voice can be difficult to connect to, but Woods deftly raises complex issues of race and identity and leaves them open for discussion: whether race matters, what makes a family, how it feels to be different, and what it means to be biracial. “To white people,” Violet thinks, “I’m half black. To black people, I’m half white.... Is that what I am, a percentage?” Ages 8–12. (Jan)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Violet is a winning protagonist, full of questions and full of hope. She’s believably complex. . . . Her self-conscious reflections enable readers to parse the symbolism behind her name and see how her experiences are helping her grow into a person who fits it—a sometimes shy, sometimes sparkly and strong person to whom many readers will relate.”
School Library Journal
★ 03/01/2014
Gr 4–6—Violet Diamond's father died in a car accident two months before her birth, and the 11-year-old has always felt that a piece of her was missing. As the daughter of an African American father and Caucasian mother, she is frustrated with narrow racial assumptions directed at her by those living in her predominantly white neighborhood in Seattle. After eavesdropping on an eye-opening family conversation, Violet digs around and finds out that Roxanne Diamond, the estranged paternal grandmother she's never met, is having an art exhibition in Seattle, and the resourceful tween vows to meet her. Complex family history renders their first meeting awkward and tense, but Roxanne genuinely wants to be involved in her granddaughter's life. Violet travels with her grandmother to Los Angeles to meet her father's relatives and better understand her African American heritage. Violet's charming quirks, which include nighttime wishing rituals and keeping a mental catalogue of sophisticated vocabulary words, prove endearing. In this quiet story, Woods's admirably touches upon profound issues related to identity and race and tenderly conveys intergenerational bonds.—Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-23
Violet's a bright, engaging biracial preteen, resigned to a "predictable summer of boring nothing" in small-town Washington; happily, for her and for readers, she couldn't be more wrong. Violet, 11, appreciates her loving family—busy neonatologist mom; sister, Daisy, 17; mom's lively, ex-hippie parents—she's just tired of explaining she belongs. She wouldn't have to if her dad, an African-American doctor, hadn't died in a car accident before her birth. In mostly white Moon Lake, Violet's a rarity; her one black friend attends a different school. Adopting a kitten is fun, but lightening her hair? Big mistake. (It was supposed to look "sun-kissed," like Daisy's—not orange.) Although Roxanne, her dad's mother, a famous artist, has refused contact (she has her reasons), Violet engineers a meeting at a Seattle gallery, persuading her mom to take her. Rebuffed at first, Violet persists until Roxanne invites her for a visit, and what was frozen begins to thaw. Both families are stable, intelligent and well-intentioned, but forgiveness and trust require contact; healing can't happen at a distance. Violet's no tragic mulatto—she'd survive estrangement, but in reconnecting with her dad's family and cultural roots, she'll thrive, fulfill her vast potential and, in doing so, enrich both families' lives across the racial divide. Infused with humor, hope and cleareyed compassion—a fresh take on an old paradigm. (Fiction. 8-12)
various

• “Violet’s a bright, engaging biracial preteen. . . . Infused with humor, hope and cleareyed compassion—a fresh take on an old paradigm.” — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
  “Woods deftly raises complex issues of race and identity and leaves them open for discussion: whether race matters, what makes a family, how it feels to be different, and what it means to be biracial. ‘To white people,’ Violet thinks, ‘I’m half black. To black people, I’m half white. . . . Is that what I am, a percentage?’" — Publishers Weekly
  “Violet is a winning protagonist, full of questions and full of hope. She’s believably complex. . . . Her self-conscious reflections enable readers to parse the symbolism behind her name and see how her experiences are helping her grow into a person who fits it—a sometimes shy, sometimes sparkly and strong person to whom many readers will relate.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399257148
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
  • Publication date: 1/9/2014
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 138,285
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Brenda Woods (www.brendawoods.net) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, raised in southern California, and attended California State University, Northridge. She is the award-winning author of several books for young readers: Coretta Scott King Honor winner The Red Rose Box, Saint Louis Armstrong Beach, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction selection Emako Blue, My Name is Sally Little Song, and A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her numerous awards and honors include the Judy Lopez Memorial Award, FOCAL award, Pen Center USA’s Literary Award finalist, IRA Children’s Choice Young Adult Fiction Award, and ALA Quick Pick. She lives in the Los Angeles area.
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Read an Excerpt


1

The Puzzling Universe of Violet Diamond

Did you ever have a dream that’s so good, you wish you could save it forever instead of having it go back to that place in your mind where dreams become quieter than whispers, quiet like snowflakes falling?

And it’s such an awesome dream that makes you so happy that right after you wake up, you rush to write it down because you can’t just let it evaporate into nothing?

Did you ever have a dream like that? Last night, I did.

In my dream I was walking along one of those picture-perfect beaches you see in vacation ads, where seals sunbathe on rocks and tropical fish swim in see-through-blue water. In the distance, dolphins leaped from the ocean, and even though it was daytime and the sun was shining bright, a crescent moon hung in the sky. My mom was on one side, my dad on the other, holding my hands. Daisy, my older sister, was walking ahead of us. In my dream we all looked alike, same skin, same hair, same big white teeth that gleam when we smile.

Barefoot people walked by us on the beach and smiled. Everyone could tell, just by looking at us, we were a family. There were no question marks in their eyes, no looks on their faces that remind me of puzzles with missing pieces, no under-the-microscope stares.

But the absolute best part of the dream was that my dad was there with us. I snuggled close to him, his arm hugged my shoulder, and he looked at me with love in his eyes.

And then, my alarm went off and I woke up. Outside, the rain was pouring and a nearby lightning strike lit my room like a camera flash.

I grabbed my 500-page journal where I write down words I’ve never heard before along with their definitions, lists of all sorts of things, and my wishes that never seem to come true. I read the first wish I’d ever written.

1. I Wish My Dad Was Alive Instead of Dead.

Somehow, my wish had found its way into my dream.

I flipped to some blank pages at the back, started a new section called Dreams I Always Want to Remember, and began scribbling down the dream. Suddenly, I stopped writing and thought about the dream at the beach, my dad holding my hand, the smile that was in his eyes. Father’s Day, a day I sometimes wish didn’t exist, was coming up. I could feel my dream happiness vanish and the sadness coming, and even though I tried hard not to let them, all at once the gloomy clouds from outside got sucked in through my ears and invaded my brain. Did you know violets actually shrink? They do, and I did.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 14, 2014

    Great for young ladies in middle school and late elementary.

    I enjoyed reading this book. Ms. Woods did not not dissappoint!

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