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I HADN'T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS by Jacqueline Woodson

I HADN'T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS

By Jacqueline Woodson

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-385-32031-0
Publisher: Delacorte

 Friendship lightens the burden of adolescence in a spare novel about two girls drawn together by the common thread of their loss. Marie, popular daughter of a black professor who developed anti- white sentiments during the civil rights movement, befriends Lena, the essence of ``poor white trash.'' Not only is Lena struggling with the death of her mother; she's also tormented by her father's sexual advances. ``Lena's eyes seemed to hold on to that sadness as though any minute she'd start crying and no one in the world, not even God, could stop the tears. She didn't cry, though. Behind the sadness in her eyes there was something--like a thin layer of steel.'' Marie's mother, too, is gone, on a ``walkabout'' from which Marie and her father know she'll never return. Marked by their abandonment, the two struggle to negotiate treacherous early adolescence; briefly, they find a gritty comfort in each other. But when Lena's father makes a pass at Lena's younger sister Dion, Lena summons the courage to take her and disappear. Woodson's poignant prose deftly understates issues of race, abuse, and loss as it tracks the friendship's brief course. ``Me and Dion, when we go, if I never see you again, I want you to know that I'm somewhere thinking about you, Marie.'' (Fiction. 12+)