The House You Pass On the Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is my newest favourite author.

Sometimes all you need is one or two sentences and you've fallen head over heals for a character in a novel. Staggerlee is one of them. She's a loner: a girl who likes her own company, a girl who likes long walks with her dog along the river. She's a girl who keeps her feelings and thoughts close.

When her cousin, Trout, comes to visit, Staggerlee experiences her first real friendship and connects with a kindred spirit. From their mutual acceptance and intimacy, both girls grow more comfortable with who they are and who they might become.

"Staggerlee and Trout were here today. Maybe they will and maybe they won't be gay......
Staggerlee watched her a moment. "You think the day'll come you can write something like that in the dirt and it won't faze anybody?"
Trout smiled and started writing their names again. "Guess it won't ever come if it don't start someplace, right?"

Readers are left with the knowledge that no matter what happens, these girls are going to be ok.

This book is satisfying on so many levels. Woodson can write. Her descriptions of winter seduced me into believing I was there in that moment.

"Staggerlee squinted up at the sun. It was weak today. Wintry. Everything about this place had settled into winter. Even the fish had disappeared, moved closer to the the bottom of the river. And the meadowlarks and mourning doves. They were gone too. She shivered, wrapped her arms tighter around herself as she walked. In the distance, a horse whinnied. Creek ran ahead of her, skirting the icy edge of the river."

Staggerlee's family is real. Her older brother, a gifted pianist, has been accepted to a prestigious music school, and she misses him deeply. Her older sister is going through one of those nasty teen phases. I wish I could have had parents like them or been like them when my sons were younger.

I read and enjoyed Miracle's Boys this summer, but The House You Pass On the Way has made me swoon with delight and book love.

I'm waiting for Brown Girl Dreamng, Woodson's story of her childhood, to arrive. I can hardly wait.

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