(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Miracle’s Boys tells the story of Lafayette, Charlie, and Ty’ree Bailey, brothers orphaned by the tragic deaths of their parents. The entire novel takes place over the course of two days, a Friday and Saturday, though it incorporates flashbacks to earlier events as well.

Charlie recently returned home after spending over two years in Rahway Home for Boys, a juvenile detention center. Watching Charlie get ready to leave the apartment with his new friend Aaron, Lafayette laments the changes that have become evident in his brother since he came home. Once, Charlie was the kind of kid who would cry over a wounded dog he saw in the street and who would stay up late telling stories to his younger brother. Now, he rarely even looks at or speaks to Lafayette, and he usually denies feeling anything at all. Charlie seems to prefer spending time with hardened characters such as Aaron and acting tough in the streets. Lafayette has even taken to calling Charlie “Newcharlie,” because his behavior and personality have become so remarkably different.

Charlie and Aaron leave Lafayette alone in the apartment, where he sits watching television until Ty’ree gets home. Through flashbacks, Lafayette shares his life story. Shortly before Lafayette was born, his father died from hypothermia after he rescued a woman and her dog from a frozen lake in Central Park. Three years ago, Charlie robbed a neighborhood candy store at gunpoint and was...

(The entire section is 520 words.)


(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Bishop, Rudine Simms. Free Within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children’s Literature. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. History and analysis of the evolution of African American writing for children and young adults, from the oral culture of slave narratives through contemporary African American young-adult writers, including Jacqueline Woodson.

The Horn Book Magazine. Review of Miracle’s Boys, by Jacqueline Woodson. 76 (March/April, 2000): 203. Argues that the book is stylistically similar to Hinton’s The Outsiders.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Interview by Deborah Taylor. School Library Journal, June 1, 2006. Article and interview featuring Jacqueline Woodson upon her receipt of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring lifetime achievement in literature for young adults. Includes discussion of reader reaction to Miracle’s Boys.

Woodson, Jacqueline. “Miracles.” School Library Journal, August 1, 2001. Text of Jacqueline Woodson’s acceptance speech for the Coretta Scott King Award, which she received in 2001 for Miracle’s Boys. Woodson speaks of the many miracles that conspired to bring her to that moment in time.