With warm, gleaming, gem-like sentences, Woodson captures the rare treasures of girlhood friendships, but the book contends with so much else, and the taut plot balloons with tension as August grows to understand a tragic realization about her family, one that will shape her for decades after ... Woodson writes lyrically about what it means to be a girl in America, and what it means to be black in America. Each sentence is taut with potential energy, but the story never bursts into tragic flames; it stays strong and subtle throughout.
...it is the personal encounters that form the gorgeous center of this intense, moving novel ... Woodson brings the reader so close to her young characters that you can smell the bubble gum on their breath and feel their lips as they brush against your ear. This is both the triumph and challenge of this powerfully insightful novel.
Woodson’s prose unspools like 'jazz improv,' riffing through a story world that is both exotic and familiar ... This is truly a rare, perfectly cut diamond of a book about the families we make and unmake, and the memories that not only shape us but somehow reveal what we can become and why.