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The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,588 ratings  ·  275 reviews
Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods’ moving, uplifting story of a girl finally meeting the African American side of her family explores racism and how it feels to be biracial, and celebrates families of all kinds.

Violet is a smart, funny, brown-eyed, brown-haired girl in a family of blonds. Her mom is white, and her dad, who died before she was born, was black. Sh
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 9th 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  1,588 ratings  ·  275 reviews

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Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gs-2014
Can we say precocious?! She's 11 year old mixed girl. Not much happens in terms of action, she simply connects with the other half of her family who is African American. Speaking to younger readers, with super short chapters that make for light reading. There is a strong emphasis on family connections and identity. Very politically correct and gently addressed racial issues without becoming offensive. Beautifully shows how a mixed person can feel part of no race. Someone mixed: to white people t ...more
Sarah Hannah
I don't know. Cute and sweet, but with some characters who troubled me? But I guess they did so in a realistic way that is much like real people, so that's also good. Yes, this book is good because it's very realistic about the complexities of race and biracial-ness. But like, a white parent who constantly tells their mixed, black-appearing child that all people are of the human race and race doesn't matter (instead of talking about how even though race is a construct, it's still very real and s ...more
Loved this book! Great book to read and discuss with your middle grader readers.

Violet Diamond is eleven years old, has a wonderful family, good friends and a lot of hobbies. But something in missing in her family. Her father died a couple months before she was born, and she has never met any of his family. Also, she struggles, because her mother and older sister are white; her father was black. Everyone in her family is fair skinned with light eyes. People are constantly giving her funny looks
Interesting plot, but the quality of the writing left something to be desired. Too much telling instead of showing, and the dialogue occasionally felt contrived. The insertions of French with immediate translations and the constant vocabulary lessons were obnoxious.

(Personal Pet Peeve: the author must not be very familiar with the Pacific Northwest. Those of us native to this area are quite proud of our ability to withstand the weather without needing an umbrella, and few - if any - own whole co
C1 Katherine
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I really loved this book! It really explained a lot about racism to me, and it also had a very interesting view and perspective on biracialism. This is a beautiful story about family, forgiveness, a young girl's dreams, and the journey of rising above prejudice.

I highly recommend this book.
Rebekah Torres
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
For my Alternate book report, I chose to write a birthday list for Violet Diamond. I chose this alternate because Violet tells the reader many things about herself, her likes, and her activities. This gave me many ideas for gifts for her.

Violet, your 12th birthday is coming up! What would you like for your birthday?

I had a list of 30 things, but my mom made me cut it down to 10. Here is the list:

1. An iTunes gift card. I heard a lot of good old songs at my Bibi’s house. I want to get them and pu
Mary Lee
After reading the first book in the Land of Stories series, which is a NYTimes bestselling series and wildly popular with my students, I learned that books I might think are not well written might be just right for 10-11 year-olds.

For that reason, and because discussions around race and culture are common in my very multi-cultural classroom, I think this book is going to make the rounds like wildfire.

The heart of this story is a biracial girl who is exploring what it means to be half black in a
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book makes me want to hug on my sweet Mimi so much. I really relate to the bond between grandmothers and granddaughters- something about skipping a generation that really makes two people cosmically connected.

I loved the treatment of race in this book as well. I loved the beautiful language that incorporated new language in a kid-friendly way without being heavy handed or relying too much on an obnoxiously precocious narrator as so many books do.
Tracey Walsh
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The characters were so captivating. You can't help but love them. Great life lessons to tajKe away from Violet's story.
Jun 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile, lyrc-2017
I really wanted to like this because I think the message was important, but it was so saccharine and boring.
My pleasure to meet delightful Violet Diamond and experience the beginnings of her blossoming universe!
Brenda Woods deals with a challenging topic quite well. Violet is a biracial child who only knows her mother's side of the family. She is in for all manner of surprises when she is allowed to know her father's side of the family. I LOVE the fact that Violet characterization from beginning to end "blossoms" as she does all these things to "fit in" with her mother's side of the family. Her mother feels that by teaching her African American history, etc---Violet is suppose to be 'above' confusion a ...more
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, 2017
Review originally published 3 July 2017 at Falling Letters.

Earlier this year, my mom and I read Black Berry, Sweet Juice by Lawrence Hill, a non-fiction book which profiles the experiences of biracial Black Canadians. That book opened my eyes to the unique challenges biracial people can face. The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond explores those challenges from a middle-grade perspective.

This book focuses on Violet finding her space within both her White family and her Black family. The
Ms. Yingling
Dec 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Violet has a long summer ahead of her, and lots of thoughts in her head. Her friend Athena is heading off to Greece, she has a new cat named Hazel, and she still struggles with the fact that her mother and sister are white, while her father was black. She wants a family that all looks the same, and this longing is intensified because her father died right before she was born. Her father's mother is estranged from the family, and after doing some research, Violet confronts her mother and asks to ...more
Brandy Painter
Originally poste here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods is a new acquisition at my local library that caught my eye. I checked it out despite the crazy amount of ARCs I currently have to review and was excited when I found a slot where I could actually slip it into the schedule. It is a heartwarming story of family and identity and I'm glad that I found it.

Violet is a typical MG age girl. She longs for a kitten, fights with and loves h
Justine Ridder
This is my favorite out of all the Intermediate Nominees for the 2015-2016 Golden Sower Nominees. Violet Diamond's father was African American and her mother is Caucasian. Violet's father died in a car accident before she was born. Because her mother was the person driving the car, her grandmother blamed her for the accident which left her bitter towards the entire family. Violet has lived with her Caucasian mother, sister and grandparents her whole life. She goes to a school where only one othe ...more
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a really wonderful and unique story about a young biracial girl who is trying to understand her history. Raised by a white mother and grandmother and living with her white half sister since her father died before she was born, Violet Diamond has always felt sort of out of place in her small Washington town. People give her looks when she walks down the street with her family, as if she were adopted, or someone else's child. Yet when she goes out with her friend Yaz, who is black, everyon ...more
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Such a wonderful book! I'm so happy to see more and more books that depict a child with a biracial or bi-ethnic heritage. In the world of children's books this is a wonderful gain. As to the plot, please see the synopsis of the plot given by the publisher. My writing here is to express my thanks to the author for writing such a wonderful character, and a lovely book. Violet Diamond is such a big hearted, believable character. At every turn the subject of family is always treated with such love, ...more
Melissa Mcavoy
I agree with some of the other reviewers. The author gets lots of points for a great topic. Mixed race girl, whose father died before she was born, wants to feel connected to both sides of her background and struggles with feeling half white, half black, and never whole. There is plot tension in that her father's only surviving parent, her Africa-American grandmother, never accepted her white daughter in law and blames her for her sons death. However the writing could be tighter and there is too ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Violet is a typical 11-yr old girl. She lives with her mom, sister, and grandparents in a suburb of Seattle. Her father died before she was born. Her father was black and her mom, half sister, and grandparents are white. Like any middle-school girl, Violet begins to struggle with her biracial identity, especially because everyone around her is predominantly white. This starts her off on her journey to find out more about her African American heritage. After doing some digging, Violet finds out t ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this is story was one that interested me and I was excited when I began reading it. But sadly, the writing left a lot to be desired. Honestly, I know high school students who could write circles around this author. What's one of the first things we tell our students when we teach them about writing a story? Show not tell. I think the author needs to revisit that lesson. The whole book was dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, tell, tell, tell, a smidgen of showing, then some more telling ...more
Jun 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Violet Diamond is a biracial 11 year old girl whose mother and sister are white and whose father was black. Her father died before Violet was born, and she has never met anyone from the African-American side of her family. She feels that a big part of her life is missing and she wants to know more about her father's side of the family. When Violet finally gets the chance to meet her grandmother, she goes to stay with her for a few days and finds out many things about her father that she never kn ...more
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Brenda Woods has written a moving story of a young girl's quest to understand her biracial heritage. Young Violet Diamond bravely decides to find out about her late father's family by reaching out to her artistic African American grandmother, Bibi. With an authentic narrative voice, Woods has created a beautiful family dynamic with Violet getting honest and loving answers to some heartfelt questions. The relationship between Violet and Bibi was especially touching and definitely had the reader w ...more
Amy-Jo Conant
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
DRA - 50
Lexile 670

This book moves at a good pace and is a very good realistic contemporary fiction. It talks about topics relevant to many youths today.

Loss (her father died)
Blended families
growing up biracial
fractured families (she has never met her grandmother on her father's side)

A very refreshing aspect of this book is that it attacks difficult topics and feelings head on. It doesn't dance around the issue or draw it out. Characters ask difficult questions and the main charact
Dara Botvinick
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I was hooked from the first and loved reading from the viewpoint of a biracial girl. The pacing was perfect with just enough mystery and drama to keep this sweet realistic fictional read moving forward. As a sixth grade teacher, I would recommend this to so many of my students in a snap.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it
A sweet, soft addition to the conversation around what it means to be black in white spaces. There's not a lot here that will challenge black or brown readers, but I'm sure some young people will enjoy recognizing elements of their own experiences in the novel, perhaps most specifically the food. Woods writes fun and spot-on characterisations of African American aunties and cousins.
Dawnella Adams
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Just when the story may start to drag there's a twist that keeps you wanting to know more. Really enjoyed reading an original story, yet one that many kids in today's world could relate.
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing

*************Spoiler Alert************

Do you ever think how it would be not knowing anything about one side of your family? Well in this Realistic Fiction novel, Violet only knows her moms side of here family but not her dads side of her family. I really loved reading this book because it teaches you that even though if a part if your family doesnt know you, they will be willing to meet you and spend time together. I really enjoyed reading this book so much because it also teaches you that no ma
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I was hoping to enter it for the The Seasonal Reading Challenge here on GoodReads, but it fell below the required AR qualifications and I wondered why seeing how the book was about a biracial 11-year-old trying to learn about herself and to fit in. That seemed to me like it should rank higher on the AR list. Having since read the book, I now understand why it is not. It is written in a really simplistic way. It feels like it is written for a gro ...more
Rachel Ogden
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am a white woman marrying the love of my life, a black man. (In July, yay!) We want to have kids in the next couple years. I want my future daughter to read this when she is old enough. I think Violet would understand her heart in ways that Mom couldn’t.
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Brenda Woods was born in Ohio, grew up in Southern California, and attended California State University, Northridge. Her award-winning books for young readers include The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond (a CCBC choice and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book); the Coretta Scott King Honor winner The Red Rose Box; the ALAN Pick Saint Louis Armstrong Beach; and VOYA Top Shelf Fiction selection Emako Blu ...more

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