86 pages 2 hours read

Jacqueline Woodson

Harbor Me

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2018

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Maturation and Childhood

The action of Harbor Me takes place over the course of just one academic year, but it is a year of fundamental changes in the lives of the six children in the ARTT group. In the next-to-last chapter, the group members have fun reminiscing about how awkward and scared they seemed at the beginning of the year in comparison to the end. This reflection evokes a typical, accepted part of the passage of time. 

Likewise, many of the other changes that the children face touch on typical aspects of the transition from childhood to adolescence. Amari seeks to prove he is becoming a man, for instance, by insisting that his voice is “getting deep” (63). Similarly, Haley reflects on how she has outgrown her purple unicorn comforter that she once begged for but now seems “silly and childish” (32). These thoughts convey Harbor Me’s insight into what it is like to grow from childhood into adolescence.

At the same time, the novel stresses that the ARTT group members are undergoing changes that are less typical and more unique. For instance, a few of Haley’s issues include her father’s impending parole, his return home, and the revelation that her family is financially well-off.