Books by Angelo

RUNNING BACK TO LUDIE by Angela Johnson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

A series of spare, linked poems tell the story of a teenage girl's fleeting reunion with the mother who left her many years ago. The unnamed narrator describes her longing for her mother, her anticipation of the visit, her father and her Aunt Lucille, who helped raise her. Johnson's (Those Building Men, 2000, etc.) poetic style at its best distills the narrator's emotional state into a pure essence that immediately communicates itself to the child reader, as in "Cracks": "I don't step / on / cracks. / Ever. / I walk with / my head down. / Watching. / More careful than the others / with / mothers / that they take for granted." The poetic spotlight dances along, illuminating moments and emotions, but never dwelling overlong on any of its subjects. However lovely individual poems may be, though, the selection is rather odd. While most develop and extend the narrator's relationships with the key people in her life—father, aunt, mother Ludie (and hairdresser and psychiatrist, brilliantly paired in two poems)—others, such as a poem that muses about twins, seem plunked in to the sequence with little regard for their context. In a larger collection, they would serve to flesh out the narrator's character and environment, but this one is so slim that the occasional non-germane poem serves only to distract from the otherwise tight focus. Angelo's (Stepping Out with Grandma Mac, not reviewed) soft, black-and-white spot illustrations are pleasing enough but do not materially extend the text or really do justice to a self-described "grrl." Overall, however, this slender offering packs an honest emotional punch. (Fiction/poetry. 10-15)Read full book review >