A compelling story of survival from a four-time Newbery Honor winning author

At the end of I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Lena and her younger sister, Dion, set off on their own, desperate to escape their abusive father. Disguised as boys, they hitchhike along, traveling in search of their mother's relatives. They don't know what they will find, or who they can trust along the way, but they do know that they can't afford to make even one single mistake. Dramatic and moving, this is a heart-wrenching story of two young girls in search of a place to call home.
© John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Jacqueline Woodson (www.jacquelinewoodson.com) received a 2023 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. She was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and in 2015, she was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She received the 2014 National Book Award for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award, and a Sibert Honor. She wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She is the author of dozens of award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include Coretta Scott King Award and NAACP Image Award winner Before the Ever After; New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me; The Other Side, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; Miracle's Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award; and Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Jacqueline is also a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. View titles by Jacqueline Woodson
An Excerpt from Lena:

        "You crying, Lena?" I felt Dion's little hand on my shoulder.

        "What would I be crying for?" I gave my eyes one more wipe and glared
        at her.

        Dion shrugged. She took a step back from me, hunkered down on her own
        knapsack. We must have been a sight--two kids in flannel shirts and jeans
        and hiking boots at a Trailways station--Dion chewing on her collar, me
        with my head in my hands.

        She swallowed like she was a little bit scared of what she was gonna say.

        "Where we going, Lena? You tell me that and I won't ask you anything else--ever
        again if you don't want me to."

        People on the outside who didn't understand would probably look at me
        and Dion and say, "Those kids running away from home." But I knew we were
        running to something. And to someplace far away from Daddy. Someplace
        safe. That's where we were going.

        "Mama's house," I whispered, my voice coming out hoarse and shaky. "We
        going to Mama's house."

        Dion shook her head. "Not the lies we tell people--the true thing. Where
        we going for real?"

        "Mama's house," I said again, looking away from her.

        "Lena?" Dion said "Mama's . . . dead." . . .
  
        ". . .I know she's dead. I didn't say we were going to her. I said we
        were going to her house."

        "And what's gonna happen when we get there?"


        "You said you wasn't gonna ask no more questions, Dion."

        Dion nodded and pulled her book out of her knapsack. I took a box of colored
        pencils out of mine and the brown paper bag our sandwiches had come in
        and started sketching. I sketched the cornfields across the way from us
        and a blue car moving in front of them. I sketched the sky with the pink
        still in it and Dion sitting on her knapsack reading. Maybe we sat there
        an hour. Maybe two or three...We'd learned how to make ourselves invisible.

        
"This taut story never loses its grip on the reader."--Publishers Weekly, Starred

"Lena's rough voice . . . speaks eloquently for the tenacity of the human spirit. . . . Once again, Woodson writes . . . about difficult issues of childhood and leaves readers encouraged by humanity's potential for insight, compassion and hope."--School Library Journal

"A tender and loving story of . . . encountering much goodness in the world as well as ultimately a place to belong in it."--The Bulletin, Recommended

About

A compelling story of survival from a four-time Newbery Honor winning author

At the end of I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Lena and her younger sister, Dion, set off on their own, desperate to escape their abusive father. Disguised as boys, they hitchhike along, traveling in search of their mother's relatives. They don't know what they will find, or who they can trust along the way, but they do know that they can't afford to make even one single mistake. Dramatic and moving, this is a heart-wrenching story of two young girls in search of a place to call home.

Author

© John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Jacqueline Woodson (www.jacquelinewoodson.com) received a 2023 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. She was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and in 2015, she was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She received the 2014 National Book Award for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award, and a Sibert Honor. She wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She is the author of dozens of award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include Coretta Scott King Award and NAACP Image Award winner Before the Ever After; New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me; The Other Side, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; Miracle's Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award; and Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Jacqueline is also a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. View titles by Jacqueline Woodson

Excerpt

An Excerpt from Lena:

        "You crying, Lena?" I felt Dion's little hand on my shoulder.

        "What would I be crying for?" I gave my eyes one more wipe and glared
        at her.

        Dion shrugged. She took a step back from me, hunkered down on her own
        knapsack. We must have been a sight--two kids in flannel shirts and jeans
        and hiking boots at a Trailways station--Dion chewing on her collar, me
        with my head in my hands.

        She swallowed like she was a little bit scared of what she was gonna say.

        "Where we going, Lena? You tell me that and I won't ask you anything else--ever
        again if you don't want me to."

        People on the outside who didn't understand would probably look at me
        and Dion and say, "Those kids running away from home." But I knew we were
        running to something. And to someplace far away from Daddy. Someplace
        safe. That's where we were going.

        "Mama's house," I whispered, my voice coming out hoarse and shaky. "We
        going to Mama's house."

        Dion shook her head. "Not the lies we tell people--the true thing. Where
        we going for real?"

        "Mama's house," I said again, looking away from her.

        "Lena?" Dion said "Mama's . . . dead." . . .
  
        ". . .I know she's dead. I didn't say we were going to her. I said we
        were going to her house."

        "And what's gonna happen when we get there?"


        "You said you wasn't gonna ask no more questions, Dion."

        Dion nodded and pulled her book out of her knapsack. I took a box of colored
        pencils out of mine and the brown paper bag our sandwiches had come in
        and started sketching. I sketched the cornfields across the way from us
        and a blue car moving in front of them. I sketched the sky with the pink
        still in it and Dion sitting on her knapsack reading. Maybe we sat there
        an hour. Maybe two or three...We'd learned how to make ourselves invisible.

        

Praise

"This taut story never loses its grip on the reader."--Publishers Weekly, Starred

"Lena's rough voice . . . speaks eloquently for the tenacity of the human spirit. . . . Once again, Woodson writes . . . about difficult issues of childhood and leaves readers encouraged by humanity's potential for insight, compassion and hope."--School Library Journal

"A tender and loving story of . . . encountering much goodness in the world as well as ultimately a place to belong in it."--The Bulletin, Recommended

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