Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A book YEARS in the Making...

Every book has a story behind it. A story that has lent part of itself to the book but not has given itself completely to it. And so it is with the debut of my first young adult novel, Ruby Red.

When I was in middle school, I read a book that changed my life. It was about a remarkable family that adopted ten children, one at a time. I was so moved that I read the book time and again. And then I somehow knew, I would never have biological children; that I would find my children through adoption. Although I would have loved to have raised at least a half dozen children, God saw fit to bless me with two, first Kimberly and then Matthew.

Kim was in third grade when Good Housekeeping and IBM teamed up for a national writing contest. Kim entered and she won national in her divison. The story was about her adoption and what it meant to her being part of a family in A Bear Named Song (A mother's assertion that "When something valuable goes out of your life, something more precious enters" is proved twice in her daughter's life), later published by Standard Publishing. Although the book is now out of print, it can still be found on the secondary market and through places like Amazon and ebay.

Around this same time I became aware of something called the Orphan Train.  Homeless children roamed the streets of New York City from the late 1800s through the 1930s. Death and disease were heaped upon poverty and overcrowding, causing thousands of children to be abandoned and left to fend for themselves. An organization sent thousands of children out west on trains to find a new home, a new family and new life. History tells us stories of the white children who rode these trains. No mention has been made of the African American children. It made me wonder what happened to babies and children like my daughter  who is a mix of white, Hispanic and African American.

Ruby Red became a speck of an idea that quickly grew and changed over the next several years. This young adult novel is a fictionalized tale of a true event.

Ruby embody's Kimberly's indominable spirit. An impish brown skinned girl who walks into your heart and takes over your life in beautiful ways. Matthew is my son, who is the same shade of white that I am. He is gentle and filled with joy and imagination like Andy. Andy? Who is Andy? You will meet him and others in Ruby Red.

Eleven-year-old Ruby is taken in as a maid. Believing life holds more for her than washing someone’s clothes, she makes a risky move by faking insanity. After being expelled from the household, Ruby sneaks onto the Orphan Train, meant only for white children. With her best friend, a cockroach named Red, housed in a canning jar, Ruby searches for a place to call home and runs into adventure and heartbreak. Both an enigma and a young teen, she is the perfect reflection of how life once was in America. Ruby embodies goodness, and simplicity of truth; a rare gem which bespeaks her name. Softened a bit through suffering she refuses to be hardened and keeps believing that the world holds a special place for her. Young teens and as well as adults will be inspired by the indomitable spirit of Ruby Red. She will live in your heart far beyond the pages of the book.

Ruby Red on Amazon

No comments: