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The House You Pass on the Way

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  1,199 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
Staggerlee is used to being alone. As the granddaughter of celebrities and the daughter of an interracial couple in an all-black town, she has become adept at isolating herself from curious neighbors. But then her cousin, Trout, comes to visit. Trout is exactly like Staggerlee wishes she could be: outspoken, sure of herself, beautiful. Finally, Staggerlee has a friend, som ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 27th 2003 by Speak (first published September 8th 1997)
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Jul 11, 2010 Amanda added it
Snapshot: Set in the rural South, this book is the story of Staggerlee, a 14-year-old girl who is searching for her own identity while also attempting to understand her complicated family legacy. Staggerlee is caught between worlds in terms of race--her mother is white and her father is black in a mostly black community--and in terms of sexual orientation--Staggerlee is trying to come to terms with being gay. A visit from a cousin who seems to understand her enables Staggerlee her own awakening. ...more
Mar 02, 2011 Lawral rated it it was amazing
I'm always amazed by how quickly I get sucked in to Jacqueline Woodson's books. The House You Pass on the Way is barley over 100 pages, and yet it is full of growth, a well-rounded cast of characters, and so much emotion. It even covers enough time to be both a little bluesy and a little hopeful at the same time. It's the perfect book for a rainy afternoon.

Staggerlee is kind of a loner, and, for the most part, she likes it that way. It gives her space to think and to play her music. In a town th
Amanda Childs
Sep 09, 2012 Amanda Childs rated it did not like it

Contains homosexual themes.

The daughter of mixed-race parents in an all-black southern town, Staggerlee has learned to avoid curious or deriding neighbors by keeping quietly to herself. She spends most of her time walking her dog by the river, alone. Though she longs for a friend, she feels alienated at school because her once-close friend Hazel has tuned the other girls against her. Secretly, Trout knows she and Hazel shared more than friendship, having had an experien
Nov 19, 2015 Adiafaith rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
There really aren’t enough words to describe how beautiful, how moving, and how vital this story is. I looked to see when this book came out and it was in 1997 when I was 17 years old. By that point, I had already fled my birth family’s home and at that age I already had enough confirmation to know that, within my birth family, being queer was not and would never be okay. But when I think back to age 13 and 14, the age of Staggerlee and Trout, I remember that sense of trying to figure out who I ...more
Jun 27, 2009 Josiah rated it really liked it
"And freedom? Oh, freedom.
Well that's just some people talking.
Your prison is walking through this world all alone."

—The House You Pass on the Way

"What did it sound like...having someone call your name across a crowded school yard? How did it feel to turn to the sound of your name, to see some smiling face or waving hand and know it was for you and you alone?"

—Staggerlee, "The House You Pass on the Way", P. 43

From before I even read page one of this book, I was drawn into it by the power
Jun 22, 2010 Ab rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-ness
A quick read, but quite interesting. The racial issues along with the questioning of sexuality as 14-year-olds makes for a fairly intelligent story. I'm glad I read it!

p.5 "Again & again she had searched through the photo albums. Again & again she saw the pictures of Evangeline Ian -- pretty, smiling baby. As she grew older, that smiling baby girl became her own tiny burden. She was the good child -- the happy one. The one that never needed, never asked for anything, never caused any tro
Sally Kruger
"I'm me. That's all." That's the attitude that helped Staggerlee get by in a small, Southern town called Sweet Gum. Her grandparents were famous entertainers, and after their tragic deaths, there was a memorial erected in their honor. But even famous ancestors didn't make up for the fact that Staggerlee and her siblings were the product of a mixed-race marriage.

Her daddy was black like most of the people in Sweet Gum, but her mama was one of only a handful of white people. Staggerlee didn't mind
Jan 27, 2017 Laurel rated it did not like it
"I don't want anyone to find it and get stupid."
Staggerlee watched her a moment. "You think the day'll come when you can write something like that in the dirt and it won't faze anybody?"
Trout smiled and started writing their names again.
"Guess it won't ever come if it doesn't start someplace, right?"

A book about a biracial lesbian tween in an all black town. Honestly the story could have been amazing. Staggerlee had famous grandparents killed in a bombing, unreconcilable family disputes, and
Jun 02, 2008 Lily rated it really liked it
The House You Pass on the Way, by Jacqueline Woodson is a riveting book that examines the relationship between two friends and how the confusion of the coming of age affected their friendship. There are so many factors I had never considered that could complicate such a close relationship. First of all, the main character Staggerlee confused her extremely close friendship with her best friend Hazel, for love. She questioned her sexuality as well as her personal worth. Her mother had dark skin, w ...more
May 02, 2016 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqia, 5-star-2016
Staggerlee is a young girl in the south trying to discover who she is. Her name is one she chose on her own. She deals with being the granddaughter of revolutionaries who became martyrs. She also has to deal with being biracial and being made to feel like she doesn't belong.I think her thoughts on family and seeing how she felt about her own skin growing up was so compelling to read.

This was a really great story.A very fast read. I loved how it had a lot to do with family. Staggerlee's family is
Apr 04, 2010 Lydia rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lgbt
What happens when you have a secret, deep inside yourself, and absolutely no one to share it with? What if your life is complicated enough, living in the south, with famous grandparents who even have a monument built to them in the center of your small town, your father is a true community figure, and your mother, who is white, has no friends?

For Staggerlee (born Evangeline), there are competing examples of how to socially fit in. Her tall, handsome black father is at ease in his hometown. Her m
~Nadia~♥Love The People Who Saw You When You Were Invisible To Everyone Else♥~
Rating: Undecided

This was a really quick read, and because of that, there isn't a lot to say on it. If this is a black perspective on homosexuality...I don't really know what that is. the book seems more to be to be about race than anything else, as Staggerlee is mixed. But other than that, I don't know. Nothing really happened, I felt. There wasn't any depth. I think she should've continued the story because though her flashback was interesting, that was basically the whole book-a flashback. I
Jan 29, 2017 Margaret rated it really liked it
Woodson writes YA fiction. Its prose and vocabulary reflect that. This is sparser language, a story more simply told.

That said, this is a lovely depiction of two young women, both queer and black, coming of age and trying to figure it all out. It is also a lovely story about prejudices within the African American community: suspicion of interracial marriage, rejection of queer love. Set in the deep south, Sugarlee's voice is one worth considering, and worth a conversation about what we do and d
Rain Misoa
Apr 03, 2015 Rain Misoa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Contemporary lovers and people who like bittersweet endings.
Recommended to Rain by: Library
Shelves: lgbtqiap
A very good read! Though the ending was bittersweet.

To read my full review, click here.
May 25, 2011 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars!

beautifully written, poignant and sweet.
a wonderful novel on self-discovery. this
was my first read by woodson and i look forward
to many more.
Oct 26, 2016 Nellie rated it did not like it
Good book a little dry and it went quick
Feb 11, 2017 Andrea rated it liked it
Shelves: anglés, godi-gsrdi
I have to be honest: this story left me wanting more. Or just wanting something else. I'm not completely sure.
One of the main things that I've liked about it is how soft it is. If that makes any sense. I like how it is not really angsty like other YA novels and it deals with the characters in a more "quiet" and blurry way. However, it also left a few relevant things practically unexplored. For example, the story of their grandparents could have been told differently and more extensively. I also
Cynthia Sillitoe
Mar 14, 2017 Cynthia Sillitoe rated it really liked it
I love this author's haunting and snapshot style, which few writers could pull off, but I admit I wanted a little more from maybe fifty more pages. Or even twenty more.
Jan 09, 2017 Macey rated it liked it
I didn't really like this book because it was very short. And had very little explanation to the evidence in the book.
Mackenzie Bowen
Jan 09, 2017 Mackenzie Bowen rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Title: The House You Pass on the Way
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Genre: Older child/YA.
Setting: Sweet Gum, a (fictional?) small town in the south.
Reason for Reading: 50 book PoC project, book 36! I definitely feel like I'm on the downhill slope now - just 14 more books to go! (Though I don't really think I'm going to be stopping there.)
Relevance to the Project: I appreciated the way the main character describes trying to just be herself, in a world that wants her to choose whether she is black or
Themes: sexual identity, homosexuality, self-discovery

Fourteen-year-old Staggerlee Canan has been a loner, an outsider, for as long as she can remember. She doesn’t have close friends at school, she doesn’t demand a lot of attention in her family, and because of her natural introversion, she has a reputation for being stuck-up and aloof among the other kids her age. Her father, the son of the now-dead, black heroes of the town, have not been in good standing with Staggerlee’s aunts, living a few
Thank goodness for Jacqueline Woodson.

In The House You Pass on the Way she has written a lovingly understated story of identity and family. As a young teenager, Staggerlee is seeking answers and understanding and relationship -- trying to figure out who she is and her place in the world -- big questions for anyone. As the biracial daughter of a Black father and a white mother living in a nearly all-Black, Southern small town, she has spent her entire life living the legacy of racism and its con
Jul 14, 2013 Saundra rated it really liked it
This book is for mature readers, as the story explores sexuality and gender identification, racism, and family issues. The book centers on Staggerlee, a girl coming of age, with feelings for other girls. The book explores some of her internal struggles as she keeps her attraction to other girls a secret. I believe that this book would appeal more strongly to female readers, as the main character offers a female perspective on what is happening in her life. Boys could also enjoy the story and rel ...more
Sally Kruger
“I’m me. That’s all." That’s the attitude that helped Staggerlee get by in a small, Southern town called Sweet Gum. Her grandparents were famous entertainers, and after their tragic deaths, there was a memorial erected in their honor. But even famous ancestors didn’t make up for the fact that Staggerlee and her siblings were the product of a mixed-race marriage.

Her daddy was black like most of the people in Sweet Gum, but her mama was one of only a handful of white people. Staggerlee didn’t mind
Patrice Sartor
Aug 23, 2010 Patrice Sartor rated it really liked it
GENRE: Fiction, realistic fiction, homosexual issues.

SUMMARY: Fourteen-year-old Staggerlee has experienced difficulty fitting in at school; her classmates hold it against her that her father is black and her mother is white, and they feel that Staggerlee is a snob. Amidst this, Staggerlee is struggling to come to terms with the kiss she shared with Hazel, who was her one and only friend until Staggerlee's classmates turned Hazel against her. Life improves after Staggerlee's cousin Trout comes to
Acelynn Perkins
Sep 21, 2016 Acelynn Perkins rated it really liked it
Staggerlee Canan is a biracial 14 year old girl who lives in the rural, all black town of Sweet Gum, South Carolina. Everyone in Sweet Gum judges Stag based on her black/white racial identity. After losing her best friend (and potential first love), Stag is left lonely and confused. When Stag's cousin Trout visits her in South Carolina in the summer, Stag learns about herself regarding her family roots, race, and sexuality while enduring the struggle of finding herself in midst of “knocking down ...more
Jul 13, 2010 Sonya rated it it was ok
The House you Pass Along the Way: Jacqueline Woodson
Date Finished: August 2009

Snapshot: Staggerlee is a 13-year-old girl, half black and half white. She is from a family of legends and her family is criticized by the community for being stuck up. She doesn’t have many friends, and is excited when she discovers that her adopted cousin Trout will be staying with them for the summer. Staggerlee feels a deep bond with Trout, and is confused about what this means. After Trout leaves in the fall, thei
This is one of the books that I tucked under the pillow and read over one sitting when I couldn't sleep, when the sun was above the horizon and the soft glowing light from the sky would shine over the last pages, making me feel like a 14 year girl playing harmonica in large field of cornflowers.

Staggerlee is a 14 year old daughter of interracial couple who sees herself as a loner yet she likes it that way as she spends most of her time playing harmonica and remembering the time when she kissed
Apr 29, 2008 Evan rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Folks who are into reading almost anything queer
I wanted to like this book more than I did. If I had read this book at 10 it would have made me feel less alone but scared I think. If I had read this at 16 I would've hated it. Now, at almost 30, I think it was really thin. 99 pages. Everyone is sketched so thinly. It's hard to really care about anyone. I'm glad I read it though. It's one of the few books that deal with a maybe lesbian black (& biracial) teenager. I just wish it was a little deeper. And it's kind of a lonely book. It's lone ...more
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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
More about Jacqueline Woodson...

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“If I loved someone enough, I would go anywhere in the world with them."

“And freedom? Oh, freedom.
Well that's just some people talking.
Your prison is walking through this world all alone.”
More quotes…