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Jacqueline Woodson’s “Beneath a Meth Moon”
One of the first articles I read (and listened to) this new year was Editing Your Life’s Stories Can Create Happier Endings, by NPR reporter Lulu Miller. It dicusses the power of writing and how writing can help people cope with the struggles in their lives by focusing on a specific event and making sense of a negative outcome by putting their memory into words.
Why do I mention this when I’m suppose to be talking about Beneath a Meth Moon?
First, this type of therapy has been proven to help. Just ask professors Tim Wilson at the University of Virginia and James Pennebaker at the University of Texas at Austin. In the process of opening yourself up and by free writing on a particular troubling subject or event, you can begin to see how you remember that event and can begin to make new sense of it or to see it in a way you couldn’t before.
Another way to think about it is dreaming. Over the years, scientists have discovered that dreaming is a way for the brain to make sense of the new information it received during the day, and to sort through what is important, what knowledge will be helpful later, and what we don’t need to remember, thereby also discovering the importance of forgetting. This writing exercise does the same, helping people better understand why something happened, how it happened, and how it either was or was not their fault.
Again, why do I mention this?
Second, without any spoilers, the main character of Jacqueline Woodson’s Beneath a Meth Moon, Laurel Daneau, does just this and perhaps without realizing what she is doing. She writes, a lot - through the good times and through the bad. The story is written through her point of view, and through her words we discover what happened to her at the same time she begins to understand and make sense of the series of events that brought her to the current time in the story. But more importantly, she learns how to put the past behind her and move on, all of which makes her a stronger person.
This story is about so much more than what I just wrote, but like I said - no spoilers. If you want to learn more it is a great read. Below is an interview with Jacqueline Woodson talking about how she came to write this story.
Come out and hear her read at the Rose O’Neill Literary House at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, February 4th. This event is free and open to the public.
Co-sponsored by: Black Studies Program, the Department of Education, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Rose O’Neill Literary House, and the Sophie Kerr Committee.