Last night I read Hush by Jacqueline Woodson. Yes, that’s right—last night, the whole book. It is not a long one, but still, I am no speed reader. The narrator was so compelling, I needed to let her finish telling her story before sleep.
When I first heard of this novel, I was skeptical. A family entering the witness protection program seemed too far-fetched for a realistic fiction fan like myself. I’m glad I ignored this thought, because the emotions of this story are very believable, and accessible to all readers: the pain of loss, the importance of having a sense of purpose, the desire to excel, the longing to fit in somewhere. I was stunned by how much depth of character Woodson could fit in such a short novel.
In the story, twelve-year-old Toswiah and her older sister Cameron leave Denver for an unnamed city. Their father, a police officer, has testified against fellow officers, and the family has received threats. Toswiah/Evie copes with leaving behind everyone she has known, while observing dramatic changes in her parents. Eventually Toswiah/Evie finds an outlet in running, a way to reconnect with her self and find a way forward.
I have read almost all all of Woodson’s picture books, but this is my first of her young adult novels. I am grateful that she has so many, because she is a stunning writer, and I plan to devour them all. This novel will count towards my reads for the African Diaspora Book Challenge, hosted by BrownGirl Speaks. I hope you’ll check it out. The reviews will give you fantastic reading suggestions.