By Margot Mifflin
Updated April 21, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Autobiography of a Family Photo Jacqueline Woodson (Dutton, $17.95) This debut novel by the author of five young-adult books starts with a whimper and ends with a bang. Set in Brooklyn, it features a black girl coming of age in the late ’60s and early ’70s who watches her gay older brother go off to Vietnam, endures another brother’s molestations, witnesses the implosion of her parents’ marriage, and quickly discovers that her life is not unusual. Despite the emotional turbulence around her, she grows into a brave and lusty teenager, brimming with sass. Like her protagonist, Woodson’s writing undergoes a compelling transformation in these pages. The book’s opening is hobbled by empty prose poetry: ”Sky. Became the term for blue. Perfection, a synonym for rage .” But as Woodson continues, she finds a stronger voice-lean, angry, and often funny-that makes her story rich and true. B+ -Margot Mifflin