The House You Pass on the Wayby Jacqueline Woodson
Thirteen-year-old Staggerlee used to be called Evangeline, but she took on a fiercer name. She's always been different—set apart by the tragic deaths of her grandparents in an anti-civil rights bombing, by her parents' interracial marriage, and by her family's retreat from the world. This summer she has a new reason to feel set apart—her confused longing for her friend Hazel. When cousin Trout comes to stay, she gives Staggerlee a first glimpse of her possible future selves and the world beyond childhood.
The middle child in the county's only mixed-race family, Evangeline defiantly changed her name years ago to Staggerlee, after the anti-hero in a ballad, but the finger-pointing has driven her within herself, leaving her friendless and lonelylonelier still for the memory of the pleasure she took in kissing a girl in grade school. Along comes Trout, another self-named teenager, from a branch of the family that had cut off her parents after their marriage. The attraction is quick, strong, and mutual; Trout's visit may be a short one, but it's long enough for each to open up, find the courage to say the word gayand to remember that they're only 14, too young to close off options. Woodson takes readers another step down the road when Trout later writes to admit that she's gone head over heels for a guy, and Staggerlee, though feeling betrayed, realizes that she and Trout are both growing and going their own ways. A provocative topic, treated with wisdom and sensitivity, with a strong secondary thread exploring some of the inner and outer effects of biracialism.
- Random House Children's Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.29(w) x 7.69(h) x 0.58(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
An Excerpt from The House You Pass on the Way
Her father had married a white woman. That's how Sweet Gum people had
talked about it, talked about her mother. Not to their faces, but it got
back to them. The whole family did well at hiding the sting of townspeople's
words. It was not what they whispered that stung. But how they
whispered. Yes, Mama was white and that made all of themCharlie Horse
and Dotti and Battle, Hope and Staggerleepart white. The only mixed-race
family in Sweet Gum, maybe in all of Calmuth County. No, it wasn't
what people said, for that part was true. But Mama was more than
ìwhite.î She was Mama, quiet and easygoing. She kept to herself. When
she smiled, her whole face brightened, and tiny dimples showed at the
edge of her lips. Why was white the word that hung on people's
lips? At school, when the kids talked about her mama, they whispered the
word or said, "You're mama's white!" and it sounded loud and
ugly, like something was wrong with Mama. And if something was wrong with
Mama, then that meant that something was wrong with all of them. . . .
And when people asked her what it felt like to be both black and white,
she didn't have an answer for them. Most times, she just shrugged and
looked away or kicked her hiking boot across the ground and mumbled something
like "fine." Her family had never talked about it, the way they hadn't
talked about alot of things lately.
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 a Newbery Honor, 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I'm always amazed by how quickly I get sucked in to Jacqueline Woodson's books. The House You Pass on the Way is barley over 100 pages, and yet it is full of growth, a well-rounded cast of characters, and so much emotion. It even covers enough time to be both a little bluesy and a little hopeful at the same time. It's the perfect book for a rainy afternoon. Staggerlee is kind of a loner, and, for the most part, she likes it that way. It gives her space to think and to play her music. In a town that is mostly Black, her mother is white. The statue in the center of town is of her grandparents, and it marks Staggerlee and the rest of her family as "special," something her classmates see as "better than." Also, we find out early on, Staggerlee was in love (in a sixth grade kind of way) with her ex-best friend Hazel. She has no words to describe the feeling she had for Hazel, but she knows she should keep them a secret. She feels different and out of place in her small town. And this is where Staggerlee's cousin Trout comes in. They understand each other in more ways than they could have predicted at the beginning of their summer together. They spend that crazy, transformative summer between middle school and high school together, and they each gain from the other the strength to figure out who they really may be. Though the circumstances may not be universal, Staggerlee's feeling of being on the outside is something just about everyone has experienced at one time or another, and her friendship with Trout, the way it helps Staggerlee to define herself and the vulnerability that creates, is beautifully rendered in the text. Even though The House You Pass on the Way can be read as an overall sad book, the melancholy is never overwhelming. And the writing, oh the writing, is so lyrical, emotional, and just plain gorgeous. Book source: Philly Free Library
This book is an awesome book for teens to read, being only 15 myself I know what its like to feel and think what she is. Just like her I have had a friend like that, and it nice to read a book that has to do with homosexuality that I can relate to.
This book is heartwarming! It shows how racisom and being predjudice still is present in the world today. Why can't we all just be ourselves? This book is excellant.
This book was a great read. I really liked how it was written.READ THIS BOOK!