Miracle's BoysBook - 2000
From the critics
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The fact that all three of the characters are boys allows Jacqueline Woodson to explore how outside expectations of rough and so-called manly behaviour clash with the grief they’re feeling. This is particularly noticeable with Charlie, once a stray-animal-saving boy, who now deals with his emotions by treating everyone with hostility and by hanging out with gang members he used to cross the street to avoid. Miracle's Boys takes a look at what some of the consequences of this idealization of violence can be, and it provides an alternative in the end.
What I liked the most about Miracle’s Boys was the depth of the characterization. The characters are all so human – they're not perfect, but they're never vilified either, despite the mistakes they make. Indeed, one of the main things Lafayette learns is that his brothers are human, neither monsters nor saints; that despite being older than he is, they too are young boys who are scared and alone.
Ty’ree was all right after Mama died. But I was all wrong. The year before, I’d seen this show about snakes. They showed this one snake slipping out of its old skin and then leaving the old skin on the ground behind him. That’s how I felt—like Mama’d been my skin. But I hadn’t grown a new skin underneath, like the snake had. I twas just blood and bones spreading all over the place.
Sometimes I stared in the mirror and was surprised to see how little and lost I looked. That was how Ty’ree looked now—like he was waiting for somebody to take his hand and show him the way home.
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At twenty-one Ty'ree, the eldest of three brothers, is now caring for his younger siblings. Lafayette, twelve, is still grieving and blames himself for not being able to save his mother, who died from an insulin shock two years earlier; and Charlie, fifteen, has just returned from Rahway Home for Boys where he has been imprisoned for the last three years after being convicted of armed robbery.
Ty'ree and Lafayette have built a stable, if quiet, relationship and are comforted by predictable daily routines. Charlie introduces an element of chaos and hostility that neither of his brothers is able to relate to. In response they begin talking to each other in a way they hadn't been able to previously. They fear for Charlie and want to help him overcome his anger and grief. In attempting to help Charlie, they end up working through their grief as well. The story is told almost exclusively through dialogue with little action actually taking place
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