Y’all, I flopped on my summer reading list. I didn’t get a chance to read any of the books I picked out. I just had a lot of things going on this summer, so my reading fell to the wayside. Which I am extremely bummed about, because I love to read.
Well, actually, I was able to squeeze out one book…
A month ago, I was visiting with a friend and told her I needed to catch up on my summer reading. She asked me if I knew about Tayari Jones’s book “Leaving Atlanta.” I had heard of it, but had never gotten around to reading it. My friend had an opportunity to study with Jones in Lisbon for a writing workshop. She spoke highly of Jones and her work and recommended I read her book. She offered to lend me her copy, and gently warned me not to lose it as Jones had signed it 🙂
I’m glad she gave me the book. Jones’s fictional novel is based on the Atlanta child murders in the late 70’s:
“Jones herself was in the fifth grade when thirty African American children were murdered from the neighborhoods near her home and school. When asked why she chose this subject matter for her first novel, she says, “This novel is my way of documenting a particular moment in history. It is a love letter to my generation and also an effort to remember my own childhood. To remind myself and my readers what it was like to been eleven and at the mercy of the world.” http://www.tayarijones.com/about/
“Leaving…” is told from the perspective of three young people: Tasha, Rodney, and Octavia. The characters are all interesting, but it is the last story of Octavia, that really moved me. Octavia is teased at school for being “too dark” and poor, but she is the smartest and most caring of the bunch. Her character is forced to deal with a lot, making you want the best for her. I would love to see a book based on Octavia.
So, while I failed to read the books on my summer list, I am glad I had a chance to read this book instead. “Leaving Atlanta” is a unique story that looks at a horrifying time in the lives of black children, yet is rarely written about.