Peace, LocomotionTitle: Peace, Locomotion
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
ISBN: 9780399246555
Pages: 136 pages
Publisher/Date: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, c2009.

There was a time when all of us were together. There was a time before the fire and before nobody wanted to be my foster mama until Miss Edna came along. There was a time before your foster mama came and said, “I’ll take the little girl but I don’t want no boys.” You were the little girl, Lili. And you didn’t want to go. It was rainging that day just like it’s raining now. And you held on to me and cried and cried. You kept saying, I want to be with my brother. (7)

Lonnie “Locomotion” Motion lives with his foster mother and brother in New York. He lives apart from his biological sister Lili, who he gets to see about once a week. He’s worried about his memories of his biological parents fading, so he’s become the “rememberer” for their tiny family. Locomotion’s connections with his foster family become stronger though, as they all worry about his foster brother’s involvement with the army oversees. In the follow up to Locomotion, Jacqueline Woodson’s Peace, Locomotion asks the question of how many families can you love at one time.

I finished this book less then a week ago, and it’s already starting to fade from my brain, which probably says more than a book review could ever say. The two scenes that stuck in my brain though are when Locomotion and his friend Clyde are discussing whether or not Miss Edna is Locomotion’s mother.

Then Clyde said, You got another mama? And even though he’s my best friend, I wanted to hit him hard. He knew the answer to that question. You know my mama died, man! I was starting to get mad. Clyde put his hand on my shoulder and told me that all he was trying to say was that Miss Edna was my mama now and I could call her whatever I wanted to be calling her but she was my for-real mama.

The second scene related to this theme of families is when Lonnie’s little sister Lili refers to her foster mother as Mama.

She’s not your mama, Lili,” I whispered. I looked over to where Miss Edna and your foster mama were. They were sitting in the waiting area but they weren’t sitting together. Miss Edna was reading a magazine and your foster mama was reading her Bible. […]
“We got a Mama, Lili.”
“That Mama’s in heaven,” you said. “I want a mama right here, Lonnie.”(63-64)

I think it’s the details more than anything that pulls at the heart strings of the reader. Lonnie is stuck questioning the what ifs and could have happeneds, which kids will relate to. It’s difficult to imagine Lonnie’s life when your own is so different, but those feelings of belonging are what drive the story. It causes deep, penetrating questions that readers are left considering after their done, even as the details of the story line fade from memory.