Jacqueline Woodson’s first middle-grade novel since National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming celebrates the healing that can occur when a disparate group of students are forced to open up with one another.
When six middle school classmates are gathered together for a weekly chat, they fear this new unfamiliar and wonder what their teacher thinks they are supposed to get out of the experience. After all, they don’t imagine they have much in common. But recently one of their fathers has disappeared and this has cast a pall over the class. Their teacher knows that there is something special about this tiny group—and is determined to help them see it by doing what any thoughtful adult would do—taking herself out of the narrative. In an abandoned art room with no adults, the six get to know one another and realize that in this room, which they soon dub "A Room To Talk," it’s safe to discuss the things that are bothering them—all that they feel is unfair in the world, the trouble with adults and so much more. And so they do. From racial profiling to deportation to a deep longing for family history and a long ago homeland, when the six of them are together, they find they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.