Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading from my first novel to students, juniors, at Berkeley High where It Begins With Tears is being taught.
Although this novel has been taught in more than 30 colleges nation-wide, and internationally, and at three High schools, including Berkeley high, in the past, I had not written it with young people in mind so I am always surprised and humbled when students come up to me and say, as two students did yesterday, that it is the best book that they have read, and countless others, approached me after my presentation to say how much they enjoyed and liked the novel.
A parent was in the audience and asked what has been my most favorite thing about writing this and other books, and I have to say, hands down, it is the opportunity to share my work and hear what readers take away. I love that it continues to find its way to young people, and as far removed as they are from the rural Jamaica setting, and the issues of community and relationships that it explore, that it still resonates with students.
I want to thank Alan Miller, the teacher who has introduced these young people to my text and who invited me to present to both his classes yesterday, and for inviting other teachers and students, who were not in the class, but who came to listen and ask questions.
The greatest reward for me as a writer is sharing my work, and knowing that there are people out there who are reading me and being exposed to the people and their stories that I present in my works.
I truly enjoyed revisiting this text through the eyes of these young adults, and want to thank each of them for being present and all the questions they asked.
Thanks too to the two students who introduced me, Nia and the young man whose name escapes me now, and Zeeshawn, who made me promise to write a story with a character with his name.
Nuff Respect to Berkeley High School for my visit.