The book starts with it, the jacket quotes it and Frannie, the main character, ponders it, so I’ll begin with it as well.
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words, And never stops at all –Emily Dickenson
Hope and feathers are woven gently throughout this compelling book. Frannie and her family soldier on through lost babies and barriers others set up toward Sean, Frannie’s brother who is deaf. Then a boy who looks just like Jesus, and some even think he is Jesus, shows up in Frannie’s class, and he looks white while all the rest of them are brown-skinned. Jacqueline Woodson’s Feathers is set in 1971, but it is timeless. It covers themes of bridging differences, friendship and family. I’ll leave you with a few of Woodson’s words.
” ‘ You just remember there’s a time when each one of us is the different one and when it’s our turn, we’re always wishing and hoping it was somebody else. You be that somebody else when you see that boy. You be the one to remember.’ ”
” ‘ I guess the writer was thinking about how light feathers are and they can just float everywhere. And I guess that’s how hope is too–all light and everywhere like that. There’s hope in this house. And at your church. And at OnePeople. At our school. Across the highway and on this side too. Everywhere.’ ”