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Inclusive Literature #2

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Woodson, Jacqueline. From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun. New York: The Sky Blue Press, 1995. ISBN: 0-590-45880-9.

 

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun is a very intense novel for young adults that deals with different issues affecting, Melanin Sun, a black 13 year old boy who discovers that his mother has a homosexual relationship with a white woman. 

Melanin Sun and his mother have a very close relationship.  They love, trust, and respect each other unconditionally.  Until, EC tells Melanin that she loves another woman, Kristin.  This turns Melanin’s world upside down.  He feels very lonely and relies on his notebooks to pour out all his feelings.  To make matters worse Sean, his friend, turns against him. However, Melanin Sun decides to support his mother in her decisions.  

The story reflects the way society today looks at homosexuality.  Some people are ready to make outcast of homosexuals, while others are ready to deffend their rights, yet others feels people should just mind thier own business. 

Jacqueline Woodson explained that she resolved the conflict in this manner because she “wanted to say that it’s important to love who you want as long as you’re happy.”

Not only is the story about a homosexual relationship, it also exposes the issue of an interracial relationship.  At his short age Melanin has already experienced discrimination from whites.  He wrote in his notebook, “It made me hate white people in a way I hadn’t thought about hating them before.”  Therefore, he has difficulty understanding that his mother would love a white person.   Though, he does mention that he prefers for his mother to have a relationship with a man instead of a women even if he is white.   

Woodson makes reference to the black and white issue through out the book.  Even the name Melanin Sun portrays this.  She explains the meaning of the name Melanin Sun, “Melanin is what makes him so dark, Melanin is what will make him strong, And, Sun, because he looks up at me and I can see the sun light there in the center of him, shining through.” (p. 7)   With this explanation she gives the contrast of the dark and the light. The cover also shows a reference to the concept of black and white.  It shows a base with two flowers one black and one white in representation of the two women, EC and Kristin.

The author also intertwines the concept of nature conservation into the novel.  Melanin is a lover of all animals that are endangered of extinction.  He even collects stamps of these animals.  Teachers could ask students in grades 6th through 8th to discuss the recurring references to endangered species through out the book, beginning with the introductory poem After John Muir. (Scholastic)  The students can then proceed to create a collage of endangered animals in their own region or throughout the world.

This novel has received great praise and has been assigned as a 1996 Coretta Scott King Honor Book.  It received the 1996 Lambda Award, and was included in the ALA Best Books for Young Adults (Guide Review). However, it lacks the emotional dept of other books written by Jacqueline Woodson.

 

Reference:

Jacqueline Woodson Web Site.  At http://www.jacquelinewoodson.com/ya.html. Retrieved on July 31.  Retrieved on July 31, 2005.

 

Scholastic: Authors and Books.  At http://www2.scholastic.com/teachers/authorsandbooks/teachingwithbooks/producthome.jhtml?productID=12128&collateralID=10744&displayName=Discussion+Guide. Retrieved on July 31, 2005.

 

National Book Foundation: Author Bio. At http://www.nationalbook.org/jwoodsonbio.html. Retrieved on July 31, 2005.

 

Guide Review - From the Notebooks of Melanin. At http://lesbianlife.about.com/cs/families/gr/notebooks.htm. Retrieved on August 7, 2005.