LENA by Jacqueline Woodson


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Woodson's quietly harrowing I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This (1994) left teenager Lena Bright and her gifted sister Dion on the run from their abusive father; here, after hitching their way from Ohio to Kentucky, they find the safety they seek, back where their flight began. The book divides neatly into halves: in the first, the weeks-long journey generally takes a back seat to Lena's lengthy internal recapitulation of themes and incidents from the preceding novel; in the second, with abrupt changes of pace and direction, hours after an idealized foster mother takes the two under her wing, Lena learns over the phone from her loving friend Marie back in Ohio that her father has disappeared and that Marie's father wants to adopt the Bright girls. Within 48 hours they're on a plane. This does bring a sense of closure to its open-ended predecessor, but the severely unbalanced structure and a resolution that can best be described as shrink-wrapped, make it a weak sequel.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0142417335
Page count: 115pp
Publisher: Delacorte