title: The House You Pass on the Way
author: Jacqueline Woodson
date: Delacorte Press, 1997
main character: Staggerlee Canan
“And freedom? Oh, freedom.
Well that’s just some people talking.
Your prison is walking through this world all alone.”
Any book that begins in the winter is gong to be a cold, lonely story and the House You Pass On the Way is no exception. While most of Staggerlee’s coming of age story occurs in the warmth of the summer, her overall life lesson reinforces her aloneness. Just like the men in winter, everyone in her life from her grandparents to her favorite brother and now her cousin Trout seems to fade away into the quiet. Staggerlee seems to be taking control of her growing up self, choosing only to answer to “Staggerlee” rather than her given name, Evangeline Ian. But, she has this odd feeling in her that she cannot begin to define until her cousin Trout comes to visit. Away from the Canan home, the house you pass on the way and out by the ever-changing river, the two girls share honesties and intimacies.
Woodson’s metaphorical use of seasons and places provide a rich emotional background for a young, biracial girl whose coming of age means understanding her sexual orientation. An older book by Jacqueline Woodson, it definitely withstands the test of time. The House You Pass on the Way was named to the ALA Popular Paperbacks For Young Adults list in 2006 and won the Lamda Literary Award in 1997.