My book for middle-grade readers is told in both poetry and prose. Marilyn Nelson and I wanted to write a book for a friend of ours, Mr. Abraham Haqq, who, despite seemingly insurmountable odds, has accomplished an incredible amount of research about African-Americans contributions to the historic town of Colchester, Connecticut.The story begins with 15 year old Pemba, who gets uprooted from her home in Brooklyn, New York to live in small town New England. She’s anything but excited. She’s not only missing her boyfriend, Malik, and her best friend, Raysha, who seem strangely unable to communicate with her once she’s gone, but the house they’ve moved into gives Pemba the creeps. To make matters worse, her mom has volunteered Pemba to be Abraham’s assistant at the library. But as the days go on, Pemba keeps having the feeling she’s being watched, and she can’t shake the weirdly vivid dreams she’s been having, even in the daytime. Only by confiding in Abraham can she unravel the mystery of what’s been haunting her and why.
Houghton Miflin Books
My first novel is for young adults about the power of unconventional unconditional love. I wanted to write a book that had a heroine in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, who also has to find self love in order to understand true love. Opal’s love for her best friend, Marianne, has grown since they were pretending to be goddesses in the woods near their home in rural Pennsylvania.
Marianne, however, has grown up to be riddled with issues and clogged with self-absorption. O clings to memories and her protective, quirky family. Even though M has forsaken her for drugs and high school popularity, O still has plans to rescue her from ruin, on to find she’s too late.
But theirs is not the only love story in this novel. Intertwined are the sad tales of Hannah, the ghost of a runaway slave who haunts the nearby ravine with a message for the girls, Opal’s parents and Marianne’s own mother, who lets pride rule her heart. Ill-fated love does not prevail here, though. There are examples of true love that defy boundaries of society, giving Opal the hope and courage to one day love again.
Houghton Miflin Books