Brown Girl Dreaming

by Jacqueline Woodson

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How does the move to New York City change Jackie and her siblings' lives in Brown Girl Dreaming?

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After Jackie and her siblings move to New York City to join their mother, they find that the intensely urban environment is different from South Carolina, but an initial similarity is provided by family connections: at first, Jackie’s family also lives with relatives, as they had in the South. They initially share Aunt Caroline’s home. The children have to adjust to the lack of green space and personal freedom, as they can no longer roam independently or find grassy fields to play in. Even the food is different, and at first, they do not like the unfamiliar dishes.

The city presents different dangers as well. The toxic lead in the paint in one apartment they live in causes major health problems, nearly killing Roman when he eats the peeling paint. This catastrophe, however, forces Jackie to acknowledge her affection for her brother.

For Jackie, the interaction with the school system has some positive benefits. She realizes that her interests, abilities, and accomplishments are not all as unusual as she had believed. Fortunately, one of her teachers, Ms. Vivo, recognizes Jackie’s talent for writing and encourages her to take this gift seriously.

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