Sunday, March 7, 2010

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford used first person and free verse to narrate the life of an unwanted child named Eleanora Fagan who grew up to become a Harlem jazz legend. Art by Floyd Cooper suits this tale of bittersweet triumphs; his grainy images are predominantly in rich shades of brown.

Almost all of the poems borrow their titles from Billie Holiday's songs. In "Our Love is Different" there is mention of the double standard commonly experienced by young bisexuals, even today: "Mom wouldn't hear / of my boyfriends sleeping over / but never said a word when I brought / girls home: prostitutes, socialites / and stars. I won't drop names / but I had them call me 'Bill.' " When I finished this book, I immediately had to listen to some of Billie's music. (Grade 7 - adult)

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