Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing Up in America share button
Susan Richards Shreve
Format Paperback
Dimensions 0.54 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)
Pages 238
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date October 2003
ISBN 9780618379026
Book ISBN 10 0618379029
About Book

In the title essay of this extraordinary keepsake of childhood in America, John Edgar Wideman pays fierce tribute to a complex mother who "used to dream me home safely by sitting up and waiting for me to stumble in." The young writer Bich Minh Nguyen remembers arriving in Michigan from Vietnam in 1975 and a classmate who said, "Your house smells funny," and Michael Parker recalls a sister's vivid—and hilarious—act of defiance on a particular North Carolina evening in 1971. These and many more intensely intimate memories make Dream Me Home Safely a collection as diverse and powerful as all of American letters.


From the Publisher

"This collection constitutes a memorable portrait of coming-of-age in America." Booklist, ALA

Publishers Weekly

In today's diverse society, it's no longer possible for an individual voice to capture a singular American view of childhood. Dissimilar experiences can each sound uniquely American, such as the stability of Patricia Elam's refreshingly functional family, in which "the only thing that distinguished us from the families on Ozzie and Harriet, Leave It to Beaver, and Father Knows Best... was our brown skin"; the quiet confusion of Michael Patrick MacDonald, who "decided that `normal' certainly meant something somewhere out there, beyond... where we lived"; or the poignant isolation of Nina Revoyr as the only Japanese child in Marshfield, Wis. This collection successfully gathers many voices, completing an impassioned picture of growing up in America. Thirty-four authors, including Chang-rae Lee, Alice Walker and John Edgar Wideman, lyrically portray their younger years. Each piece-whether describing the bluffs of Illinois, the movie houses of Paris, Tex., or Christmas in Alabama-illustrate how childhood informs adulthood. As Lisa Page writes, as we age, "the child remains, transcended, often denied, but there all the same, hiding beneath our business suits, our corporate uniforms, the camouflage we wear to communicate our grown-up selves." While most essays are magical, a few are forced and the flow of the anthology suffers from its alphabetical, rather than thematic, organization. But these are easily overlooked flaws in this beautiful compilation that proves that "childhood, of course, never ends." (Oct. 22) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.


This unique collection of stories, vignettes and scraps of memories from childhood captures what it has been like to grow up in America. The authors come from a wide range of backgrounds and from different parts of America, yet there is a commonality to all of their stories as well as a sense of how distinct each of our childhood experiences are. Some of the authors are well known, such as the editor, Susan Richards Shreve, Anna Quindlen, and Alice Walker, but some of the most poignant writing comes from young authors, like Bich Minh Nguyen, especially those who came to America from a different culture and made the adjustment. Most stories reveal how important it is to be like everyone else as a child, but many are about the moment when the child discovers the importance of being unique. "Foreigner in Marshfield" is an example of how being different often teaches a child important lessons about being yourself. This collection is excellent for many reasons and it attempts to give all races and ethnic backgrounds equal time. KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Houghton Mifflin, Mariner, 223p., Ages 12 to adult.
—Nola Theiss

Library Journal

The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is dedicated to the mission of "leaving no child behind," especially those who are poor, disabled, or minority. This collection of 34 essays, assembled in celebration of the organization's 30th birthday, provides a balanced blend of essays on childhood contributed by such authors as Joyce Carol Oates, Anna Quindlen, and Alice Walker. All of the essays are highly readable and of high quality, even when the contributor is not as well known. And since each piece represents a unique experience, the essays may be read in random order. From the sweetness of Tina McElroy Ansa's "The Center of the Universe" to the poignancy of Alexis Pate's "Innocence Found," the collection teems with memorable narratives. Especially moving are the stories told in the first person, with a hint of nostalgia for childhood. Many feature children living in poverty or with less than ideal parents, but the tone never sinks to cynicism. A foreword by CDF founder and president Edelman rounds out the text. With such a low price and proceeds going to an excellent cause, this work is recommended for all collections.-Jan Brue Enright, Augustana Coll. Lib., Sioux Falls, SD Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.