Skip to main content

It All Started With a Book

The Road to Misunderstood 



Last year in one of Dr. Zamora's class fellow grad student Richonda told me about a book called The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and it changed my life. Now, I've always been an avid reader. And since I've become a middle school teacher I've become addicted to YA (young adult)  novels. They are my new favorite obsession.

Every single time I get my hands on my a book that I know will make my students want to read I cannot wait to get it into the hands of students. The Hate U Give aka THUG is that book.


Since I have found books like Dear Martin, The Miseducation of Margot Sanchez and I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter -- each of these titles I have purchased and given to my students. The largest purchase came from Donors Choose. And I am telling you. I cannot keep these books in my library longer than a day.


After I finished reading this book I wanted more. I wanted to read more like it. In my quest I realized that I wanted to write one like it. I had a THUG type story inside of me. I always have. I dabbled in writing before. But none of my stories kept me away or motivated me like the story I am working on for my grad thesis titled, Misunderstood. Growing up in Newark, NJ and now teaching there has inspired me to want to share their stories with the world. My students deserve to read books where they see themselves represented. More importantly, I am writing the books that I wished I had as a child.

In my writing of this novel I know that I have a lot of research to do. The first is figuring out the lane that my book needs to be in. Why does it matter? What space will it occupy in the world? Interestingly enough my research started with Twitter and the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks. I took this as my call to action as an author. I have stories to tell.


Below you will find a synopsis of my novel....

Fifteen-year old MYA ANDREWS’ life has never been easy. When her grandmother, BIG MA dies the summer before her junior year, it is yet another disadvantage added to her life.

Not your average girl from the hood, Mya is no slouch in school. In fact, she prides herself on being a straight A student. She’s determined to succeed in spite of having suffered so much loss. Each loss drives Mya’s dream of going to college to become a doctor-- fulfilling a promise she’d made to Big Ma.

Big Ma’s death leaves Mya with two very heavy burdens to bear; Big Ma’s gift of sight and KEVIN the father she’d never met showing up to take her away. Kevin rips her away her from the only family and friends she’s ever known in Newark, NJ to live in Millburn--an upper middle class Jersey suburb. Mya is forced to forge a bond with her father, his wife and their kids.

Mya’s visions are unpredictable at first. They give her insight into the past and glimpses of the future. But she doesn’t foresee the unexpected course that lies ahead. The first casualty of Mya’s move is her relationships with her best friend TAMIKA. 

While attending a cookout in her old neighborhood, a possible gang related shooting pops off. Tamika’s brother is killed and Tamika is injured. Word gets out that Mya’s father is leading the investigation. Mya’s friends including Tamika turn on her.  Mya is branded a snitch all over social media and ostracized by everyone.

Adding insult to injury, Mya has to learn to navigate her way through a new school where she’s clearly an outsider. Junior class president, self-proclaimed genius and overall jerk AUSTIN LUCKETT ensures that she doesn’t earn a spot on the school’s Academic Olympic team.

Eventually, Mya learns to trust the one person she distrusts the most-- her dad. Austin’s loses his spot as captain of the Academic Olympic team. Mya steps into his spot proving all of her Millburn High haters wrong.

In the end, Mya realizes that moving doesn’t destroy her identity-- it adds another layer to who she’s always been.



Comments

  1. I just want to say I love the book already, especially for the way you framed the importance of finding books that are something the students you know can identify with (the photos of them reading are precious BTW).

    I might guess the answer, but are you asking your students for ideas that might feed into what happens in the novel to Mya? The story already has a great arc, and the journey Mya needs to walk, but also it feels woven with a relevant setting of place and time (ironically have a friend who used to live in Millburn and have visited there, yes I can visualize the place).

    I'm excited to see your thesis unfold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks SO much. Your words mean a lot to me because I am at a point where I am questioning how I feel about this book and my writing.

      Those photos warm my heart! They really did love reading those books. I haven't started that yet. My plan is to allow them to read it and give me feedback when I am finished with this round of edits. I will keep you posted in the blog as to what they say about it.

      Professor Zamora said the same about Millburn.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Revise, Read & Then Revise Again!

It has been hard for me to sit down and track my writing progress. I think this is because I've hit a wall. My novel, this thesis means more to me than just a grade and/ or a graduate degree. I want writing to become my life. I always have. I started this journey in my early twenties. But I quit after my very first no. Instead of buckling down and honing my craft, actually becoming better. I stopped and went in he other direction. And now I am back. In graduate school with my eyes fixed my childhood, goal/ dream. The writing of my novel part is causing me frustration mainly because I haven't been able to find the time to revise my manuscript. I'm getting it done because I am literally hustling the time. I done through and revised my novel for a second time. And now, I'm stuck.

I couldn't put my finger on why, until now. I think it was because I was in the trenches. I was swamped with my creative ideas and the research that supports the notion that there is a place…

God Is In the Details...

This week's thesis journey was straight research. 
Alan's comment on last week's blog got me to thinking. 

Alan's mention of Kurt Vonnegut reminded me of this book that I've had sitting on my shelf for the longest. Now, I never actually read it. It was recommended by Dr. Mary Ann Riley at a professional development workshop. (I love her by the way. Any PD she's teaching I want to be there front and center!) At this workshop she was teaching teachers how to teach students to be better readers and writers and at some point she mentioned this book. And I immediately went on Amazon and ordered it.  
Anyway, I cracked open this book, started flipping around until I found a section that I felt was a great starting point for the things I needed to focus on in my writing. I landed on Chapter Eight titled Details. During our Google Hangout chat with Barbara, we talked about writing techniques and tips. In order to be a good writer, one who has honed and perfected their cra…