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From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  923 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
Jacqueline Woodson's remarkable, award-winning story of a boy coming to grips a sudden change in his family.

Melanin Sun's mother has some big news: she's in love with a woman. Now he has many decisions to make: Should he stand by his mother even though it could mean losing his friends? Should he abandon the only family he's ever known? Either way, Melanin Sun is about to l
Paperback, 141 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published 1995)
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Oct 15, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: young adults, adults
Recommended to Anna by: conference organizers
First off, let me just say that I didn't know much about this book before reading it. I am attending a young adult literature conference next weekend and I signed up for a workshop that featured this book and Call Me Maria by Judith Ortiz Cofer. The theme of the workshop is "Crossing Personal Borders" but that was all I really had to go on before I started reading this book.

The beginning was a little bit rough in the sense that I had a hard time getting into the author's writing style. She has
Nov 14, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it
Like all of Woodson's books, this is beautifully written and painfully heartfelt. On first reading, it was one of my favorites of all the books of hers I'd read. On a recent rereading, I was totally taken aback by the abruptness of the ending... I think Woodson has an artistic commitment to leaving the reader with a lot to resolve on their own, which I valued when I was trying to find books for adolescents that would get them thinking. As a rereader, and a civilian (so to speak) I was inclined t ...more
Sep 26, 2011 Josiah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems to me that Jacqueline Woodson's uncanny ability to sensitively connect with a reader's deepest unspoken thoughts and feelings correlates directly with how much of herself she puts into the characters of her books, and how emotionally honest she is through those characters. It's not just the stories and relationships that move the reader; above all, it's the fact that the emotions are totally real and accessible to anyone who picks up the book and reads. There's nothing manufactured abo ...more
Okay, let me start this review out by saying that technically, this book is really good. Woodson is a master of language; everything of hers I've read has just been so well-written and so beautiful. So when I say that I didn't like this book, you'll understand that I'm speaking purely on content, not skill.

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun is about a thirteen-year-old boy whose mother comes out to him, and he proceeds to have a ninety-page shitfit. That's... really it. Okay, that's actually simp
Nov 19, 2009 Kym rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with Jacqueline Woodson, her sensitivity to so many issues,but more importantly her writing. I have read many of her books since June and find I am drawn in within the first few pages. Melanin Sun..more than a goodread!

“Mama…” Melanin Sun calls. Even at thirteen, when asked what he wants says, “Nothing. I just want to be sure of you”. Being a teen isn’t easy, it isn’t easy in a single parent home, and it isn’t easy when that one person that you are sure of, your mom, falls in lov
Nov 21, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
This is an excellent (and easy to read) book that addresses issues of sexuality and racism in a fluid and tender story of the relationship between Melanin Sun, a 13 year old African-American boy, and his single mother, EC. Melanin's life turns upside down one day when his mother brings home her new girlfriend for him to meet. Not only is EC dating a woman, but she's dating a white woman. This throws Melanin for a loop, to say the least, as he navigates his own blossoming sexuality in a world of ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Outstanding story of an African American teen whose mother announces that she's in love with a white woman. Woodson does a beautiful job of depicting Mel's reaction--confusion, fear, anger, shame. He loves his mother and has been happy with their comfortable relationship, which he now sees threatened by Kristin. This is the first book I've read about a child with a gay parent in which the child reacts very negatively. Woodson depicts realistically how, when Mel's friends and neighbors finally fi ...more
This is the second book written by Woodson that I have read. I read the Tupac one in Comprehension class. Both books appeal to young readers who easily understand the nuances of the language of the stories. They relate to the teenager in the Notebooks and how he writes his feelings about his life, his mom and her white girlfriend. Also entering into his feelings is Angie, a girl that stirs emotions in him that he has never felt before. Pressure from his peers, racism, and betrayal are revealed i ...more
Allyson Bogie
Jul 19, 2016 Allyson Bogie rated it it was amazing
This was my second Jacqueline Woodson book and like the first one, I was captivated. Something about her books makes me feel like I'm all wrapped out inside of them when I'm finished. She doesn't use flowery language or endless descriptions. But her stories are so evocative and REAL. And I can totally relate to them, even though they are about Black teenagers in Brooklyn and that is definitely not my demographic.

When it comes to "urban fiction" (aka short, easy to read books about poor Black an
Bridgette Davis
This book was actually much better than I expected. Melanin is a really realistic character - his emotions are totally believable. His problems are real.

I really appreciate the way that the author didn't keep everything neat or politically correct in this novel. The chaos and confusion are exactly right for the situation.

Melanin triumphs. However, during the middle of the book, I was deeply scared that he'd "never see the light".
Jul 06, 2007 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adolescents
My first book by Jacqueline Woodson. A story of identity and discovery. A young male voice that was sincere and real.
Anahi Cruz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bogi Takács
If you read my reviews, you probably know that I'm a Jacqueline Woodson fan, but this one didn't quite work for me.

This book is the kind of YA contemporary that frankly feels more like a historical now. It's about a young Black boy and his queer mother; and just so much has changed about queer rights since 1995, when it was published, that I simply can't see the entire plot go the way it goes.

Warning that this book has a LOT of outright hate speech and in general a huge amount of anti-queer sent
Oct 04, 2015 E.S. rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara Lederer
A unique title delivering a universal message, From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, tells the story of a boy and his mother in Brooklyn, New York. Jacqueline Woodson introduces the main character, Melanin Sun to the reader in an honest, respectful manner. Melanin, named after his dark skin color, lives in Brooklyn with his mother, his father left the family years earlier. Melanin likes to write, collect stamps and loves his mother very much.
This is a story of Melanin Sun learning that his mother
Mrs. Reed
Aug 05, 2012 Mrs. Reed rated it really liked it
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun follows the title character, a sensitive, introverted boy raised by his loving, free-spirited mother.

Melanin has to face his own prejudices that he didn't even know he had--didn't know he had them because he hadn't been faced with them before. "There weren't white people in our world. That was it.... No use for them in this neighborhood. This was our place--people of color together in harmony, away from all of their hatred and racism. I didn't dislike white peop
Kay Mcgriff
Jan 28, 2014 Kay Mcgriff rated it really liked it
When I picked up From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun at the Authors as Artists series with Jacqueline Woodson, I didn’t know much about it. I chose it because I connected with the description of Melanin on the back cover. Melanin Sun sometimes has trouble getting his words out when he speaks, so instead he writes them in his notebooks. I sometimes stumble when I have to speak deep truths aloud, but if I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, the words flow much easier.
I loved how the first perso
This coming of age tale takes on a difficult subject in a tough environment. Melanin Sun is a teenage boy growing up in Brooklyn. He is out of school for the summer and trying to occupy his time. He loves his mother and they have a very close bond. Melanin is a quiet kid that loves to write in his journals about what is going on in his life. He also collects stamps of endangered animals and often worries about them and their demise. One day Melanin's Mom, EC, asks Melanin to meet someone special ...more
Jen Castagno
Nov 30, 2012 Jen Castagno rated it liked it
Shelves: english-420

This novel is written as a notebook that the main character, Melanin, is writing in. He is a young boy who is very dark skinned, unlike his mother EC. SHe has lighter skin and is the only parent because his father left before he was born. Melanin and his mother have a very close relationship. They talk about everything and are best friends. She has had many men over, but none stayed very long, which was good for Melanin because he liked it with just him and his mom. One day, his
Taylor White
Sep 17, 2014 Taylor White rated it really liked it
Shelves: november-12
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson is a Coretta Scott King Award novel. Melanin Sun is a teenager who keeps notebooks of his thoughts about the world. Melanin and his mother only have each other until a secret Melanin's mother is keeping is revealed to Melanin. This secret drives Melanin and his mother apart. Melanin struggles with how to handle this new information so he writes it all down in his notebooks. Melanin also struggles with what everyone will think of this knew n ...more
Colleen Halloran
May 31, 2015 Colleen Halloran rated it liked it
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun was about betrayal. Melanin and his mother were extremely close until she came out of the closet. Melanin's thoughts and disapproval resembled how any child would have reacted to this situation. I enjoyed how by the end of the book he accepted her for who she is and he also accepted her partner. Even though Melanin was upset with his mother he still defended her when his friends were making fun of her. I think that that is the true meaning of family. I like how ...more
Audry Sanders
This post is part of the Must Read Harder Challenge Grant funded by IMLS through LSTA and sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries
“From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun”
By: Woodson, Jacqueline
Puffin Books
A Penguin Random House Company
Brooklyn (NewYork,NY)
ISBN: 978-0-14-241641-9
Grades 7-11
Melanin Sun is, a 13 going on 14 year old African American boy growing up in Brooklyn with his single mother. Mel comes across as a sweet, kind quiet boy who is happy with life till his mom tells him
Anna-beth Haye
Sep 11, 2013 Anna-beth Haye rated it it was amazing
This book is about a young African American boy who lives in a rough ghetto neighborhood. in this neighborhood homosexuality isn't welcomed, people frown upon gays and lesbians. So when Melanin finds out that his mother's new spouse is a female he's furious yet confused. Finding this out hurts him emotionally and mentally causing his grades to drop and getting in numerous physically and verbal fights. Towards the end of the book he learns to accept his mother's decisions and her new girlfriend w ...more
This quick read lets the protagonist, Melanin Sun (Mel), speak directly and personally of his mother's coming out (and choosing a partner across racial lines) and his resulting re-examination of identity, place, belonging, and personal values. Woodson doesn't attempt to write a neat and tidy, politically correct story, but rather allows the confusions, tensions, and juxtapositions of real life to sit heavy and unmediated. Similarly, she doesn't hide from or pretend to ignore the ugliness of raci ...more
Victoria Alvarez
Nov 13, 2014 Victoria Alvarez rated it it was amazing
This is a story based on LGBQT . It is about a black boy who lives with his mom, and are very happy together, they are more like best friends. They both enjoy spending lots of time together. He has some friends who think his mom is really pretty. Though his mom never brought dates home since his dad left them. Melanin always writes down things on his journal, and one day he noticed something weird about mom and a friend of hers. She saw her really happy together, and one day mom told him that sh ...more
Leeah George
Jan 21, 2012 Leeah George rated it it was ok
Fourteen year old Melanin Sun thinks his biggest problems are figuring out what to say to he girl he likes, learning to be less withdrawn, improving his slam-dunk, and wishing his name was something like Donald or Carlos. Then his mama, his only parent and near best friend, tells him something that changes his life and shows him, for the first time, what problems are really all about. Her news makes him question who he is, what love means, and if he can love his mother in spite of what she tells ...more
Alyssa Scherr
Oct 23, 2014 Alyssa Scherr rated it liked it
Shelves: lit-circle-books
This story is narrated by Melanin Sun, a young boy who believes his mom is his best friend until she drops some big news on him one day in the car. The woman he met the other night, who he believed to be his mom's "friend" from the gym is actually her lover. How does he tell his friends? How does he now act towards his mom? Melanin struggles to find the right way to answers these questions and ends the novel with a powerful message.

I believe the theme in this book is conflict. Melanin is in con
Oct 07, 2014 hareton_fan1 rated it it was ok
This was one of the weirdest books I have ever read (and that's saying a lot because I just read the Wave before this and that book is seriously messed up). I have very few good things to say about this book, but I'll start with them. The style itself was pretty good. She does a good job of delving into the kinds of thoughts that a normal African American 14 year old boy would have. The details themselves are realistic and I would totally believe that this actually happened, though it didn't. Ho ...more
Nov 24, 2012 Esther rated it liked it
Melanin Sun has always stood out because of his dark skin color. Also because of his interest, his friends Sean and Ralph always tease him for collecting stamps. They say it's faggy which he hates. He even calls himself that at one point. To his surprise his mom is gay. He was mad enough that his mom liked woman, but he was even more upset that she is white. He was extremely ashamed and didn't tell anyone, but his friends and the whole neighborhood found out anyways. Eventually he learns to acc ...more
Judith Owens-smalll
Jul 19, 2014 Judith Owens-smalll rated it really liked it
Woodson, Jacqueline. (1995). From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun. Puffin Books. p76.
Three-time Newbery Honor Jacqualine Woodson, in her Coretta Scott King Award winning novel, tells a tale of sexuality and racism. Narrated through the voice of the main character Melanin Sun, a closeness, an intimacy is eroded when he discovers his mother is gay. He’s scared. The loneliness, the loss, and the shame leaves him abandoned. So, he writes it all in his notebook-the keeper of all his thoughts. The whole
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I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories a
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“Mama says it's okay to be on the quiet side—if quiet means you're listening, watching, taking it all in.” 12 likes
“And when I can't speak it, I write it down. I wish I was different. Wish I was taller, smarter, could talk out loud the way I write things down. I wish I didn't always feel like I was on the outside, looking in like a Peeping Tom.” 6 likes
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