A powerfully moving novel from a three-time Newbery Honor-winning author
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
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
About the Author
Jacqueline Woodson (www.jacquelinewoodson.com) is the recipient of the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. She was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and in 2015, she was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She received the 2014 National Book Award for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award, and a Sibert Honor. She wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She is the author of dozens of award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me; The Other Side, Each Kindness, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; and Miracle's Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award. Jacqueline is also a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature and a two-time winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
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Excerpted from "Hush"
Copyright © 2010 Jacqueline Woodson.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
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Reading Group Guide
ABOUT JACQUELINE WOODSON
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, a Coretta Scott King award, 2 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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OTHER BOOKS BY JACQUELINE WOODSON
Last Summer with Maizon
Reissue available Summer 2002
Between Madison and Palmetto
Reissue available Fall 2002
Maizon at Blue Hill
Reissue available Fall 2002
AN INTERVIEW WITH JACQUELINE WOODSON
Why do you write for young adults?
I think it's an important age. My young adult years had the biggest impact on me of any period in my life and I remember so much about them. When I need to access the physical memories and/or emotional memories of that period in my life, it isn't such a struggle. And kids are great.
The issue of identity is central to the three books under discussion, yet each seems to approach this topic differently. Was this a deliberate choice on your part? What does each of these stories say about the teen characters and their struggles to define themselves?
Identity has always been an important and very relevant issue for me. For a lot of reasons, I've been 'assigned' many identities. From a very young age, I was being told what I was—black, female, slow, fast, a tomboy, stubborn—the list goes on and on. And this happens with many children as they are trying to become. So that by the time we're young adults, no wonder we're a mess!! There are so many ways we come to being who we are, so many ways in which we search for our true selves, so many varying circumstances around that search. No two people are alike but every young person is looking for definition. My journey as a writer has been to explore the many ways one gets to be who they are or who they are becoming.
Where did you get the idea for Hush?
Some years ago I read an article in the New York Times Magazine that started the seed for Hush. I did a good bit of research and just thought about the story for a long time before I started writing it. I kept asking "Who would I be if this happened to me? What would I have left?" It was devastating to think about but at the same time, it really made me grateful for all that I do have—all the people in my life who have been with me since childhood, my family, my pets, everything.
What do you do differently, if anything, when you tell a story from a male perspective?
When I'm writing from a male perspective, I try to imagine myself as a boy and I really try to remember as much as I can about the guys I knew and know. It's very different than creating girl characters but I love the challenge of it.
Although these are very different stories, they each reflect what can happen to African Americans when they are impacted by the criminal justice system. What do you want your readers to understand about this?
I don't really know what I want readers to understand. I know what it helps me to understand—that the criminal justice system has historically not worked for African-Americans, that the percentage of people of color as compared to whites in jail, killed by cops, racially profiled and constantly singled out is unbalanced. I want the system to be different and the only way that it can change is if the way our society looks at race changes. And the only way that can happen is if people really start paying attention and making a decision to create change.
- Describe Evie's life in Denver before her father witnessed the shooting. Why is her real name so important to her?
- How did her mother become involved with religion? Why?
- Why does her grandmother refuse to leave Denver?
- Why is it so important for Evie's father to testify in this case? What other actions could he have taken?
- Contrast Evie's home in Denver with her family's new home.
- Each member of the family leaves something important behind when they are forced to leave Denver. Describe what each leaves behind and why it matters.
- Why does Evie decide to join the track team and why does she keep it a secret?
- Anna decides to try to gain admittance to a college that will accept her before she graduates. Why is this important to her? What impact will this have on her family? On Evie?
- How are Evie and her father able to reach each other again? What understanding does Evie gain when she is able to finally speak openly with her father again?