Hold Fast to Dreams

hold fast to dreams

Hold Fast to Dreamsby Andrea Davis Pinkney

  • publisher and date: Morrow Junior Books, 1995
  • genre: realistic fiction
  • age/grade: grades 4-6

Synopsis (from www.bn.com)
Dee Willis is uncomfortable as the only black student in her suburban middle school. Will she fit in better if she acts white? “The subtle challenges that confront an African-American family as it integrates a community . . . a solid, believable tale.”–The New York Times.

Author’s Perspective: (from: Voices from the Gaps)

Andrea Davis Pinkney was born on September 25, 1963 in Washington, D.C., the daughter of parents deeply involved in the civil rights movement. As a result, Pinkney was exposed to the movement at a young age and was even involved in the annual conference of the National Urban League during many of her summer vacations. The Civil Rights Movement played a large role in her childhood and its influence is visible in many of her books.

This book is based partly on Andrea’s experiences growing up in Connecticut. She writes from an insider’s perspective.

Literary Elements:

Character – The characters were likable, but I do tend to agree with the School Library Journal’s review that they were a “bit too ideal.”

Theme – Fitting in, change, friendship, belonging, prejudice. These are all themes that young people struggle with.

Setting – The setting is very important in this book. Dee and her family move to a mostly white town in Connecticut. The struggles to fit in while still maintaining who you are is a main theme in the story.

Curriculum Connections:

  • Write a letter – Write a letter to Lorelle telling her all about the Founders’ Day Assembly.
  • Character change – Each character in Hold Fast to Dreams goes through a change in how they feel about the move and belonging. Choose one character and map out the events that cause the changes to occur.
  • Write a poem – Write a rhythmic, rhyming poem about an experience of Deirdre’s that could be used in a Jumpin’ Jive Five routine.

Web Resources:


Publishers Weekly (from www.bn.com)

Pinkney (Alvin Ailey; Seven Candles for Kwanzaa) takes the title of her first YA novel from a poem by Langston Hughes, who happens to be 12-year-old narrator Dee’s favorite poet. No one else in Dee’s new town of Wexford, Conn., however, seems to have heard him, a difference emblematic of the great gulf between Dee, the only black girl in school, and her lacrosse-mad classmates. She misses her home in Baltimore, her spot on the “Jumpin’ Jive Five” double-dutch team and, most of all, her best friend, Lorelle. Pinkney captures the emotional strain that goes along with change through Dee’s free-form narrative. Frequently witty, it does not mask the pain experienced by Dee and by her younger sister, Lindsay, who is having troubles of her own adjusting to a posh private school. The author also shares valuable insights into the pressures affecting Dee’s parents and other upwardly mobile African Americans. Frank dialogue about how white kids and black kids view each other helps to burst apart stereotypes while affirming racial difference. Ages 10-up. (May)

School Library Journal (from www.bn.com)

Gr 4-6-When 12-year-old Deirdre’s father gets a new job in New York City, the family relocates from Baltimore to suburban Connecticut. There are few blacks in Wexford and the white kids whisper and stare. Deirdre’s younger sister, Lindsay, copes by trying to “act white” and believes that joining the lacrosse team is the ticket to acceptance. Deirdre, however, pursues her interest in photography and makes a friend. Meanwhile, Lindsay is cruelly teased at school and their father is harassed by a security guard at work; strengthened by family support, they refuse to accept further abuse and stand up to their tormentors. This is a positive portrait of strong relationships with characters that are likable, if a bit too ideal. Like a TV after-school special, the conflicts are resolved quickly and easily. Nevertheless, the story will sustain readers’ interest, and persistence in the face of life’s obstacles and maintaining self-esteem are valuable themes.-Jacqueline Rose, Lake Oswego Public Library, OR


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: