When His Own Where was first published in 1971, it gained both praise and notoriety. A finalist for the National Book Award, June Jordan’s first young adult novel was considered controversial for being written entirely in Black English. Would children be encouraged to shirk the mastery of standard English, or would they, as Jordan proposed, become more engaged in a story about urban survival and the power of love, written as people actually speak?
Jordan did more than drop verbs and dangle participles in this short piece, which I did not find off-putting. In spite of the use of broken English, His Own Where manages to eloquently relay the harsh realities of two teens and the tenderness of the their budding relationship. Buddy's father is a patient in the hospital where Angela's mother is a nurse. Their relationship is spawned from Buddy's desire to protect Angela from her abusive family. This is a classic tale of young runaway love. The use of street vernacular is an appropriate vehicle that makes this story accessible to young people and augments a story that might have fallen flat had it been written in standard English. Juxtaposing lives still young and filed with boundless hope against death, Jordan's poetic prose came together as an endearing tale.
Many thanks to The Feminist Press at CUNY for getting this title back in print.
Disclosure: This book was supplied by the publisher.