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"That's the way I felt, like something had eaten parts of me, the best parts. There would be no journal entry when I got back to the house this time. Like Grandma said, I just didn't have the words." Shayla feels that she's been replaced now that her father's new wife has given birth to a baby -- born on Shayla's own birthday. As upset as she is, though, she can't confide in her best friend, Kambia Elaine, because she doesn't want to diminish Kambia's happiness at finally being part of a loving family. Yet Kambia's life is not without difficulties of its own: Someone has been sending her evil messages and packages that threaten her well-being. Neither can Shayla confide in her new friend, Lemm, because she discovers that he has his own troubles -- although she can't imagine the tragedies from his past that he's still keeping secret. As she did in When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune, Lori Aurelia Williams (whom Publishers Weekly has called "a writer to watch") has written an emotionally charged novel of unconditional love, told sensitively in luminous prose.
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Thirteen-year-old Shayla has never thought much of her estranged father, the silver-tongued Mr. Anderson Fox. And she thinks even less of the new baby girl he has fathered named Gift ("I don't think that she's a present.") Jealous and angry that "once again Mr. Anderson Fox has tracked sadness into our house on the sole of his shiny leather shoe," Shayla tries to take her mind off her baby blues by spending more time with her best friend Kambia Elaine and flirting with Lemm, the cute new boy in the 'hood. But she soon discovers that each of them are nursing their own troubles. Kambia is receiving awful anonymous reminders of her former abusive home that cause her mind to "run away from her like folks do from Casper the Friendly Ghost," and Lemm is struggling with a terrible family secret that he tries to cover up with alcohol and fast talk. As she strives to help them both, Shayla painfully learns that friendship has its limits and that the maturity she longs for comes with a price. Lori Aurelia Williams has more tightly focused this sophomore follow-up to her critically acclaimed, yet somewhat rambling first novel, When Kambia Elaine Flew In from Neptune. With Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues, Williams sticks closer to the plot, while continuing to write Shayla's first-person voice in the signature lyrical style that made Kambia Elaine so unforgettable. To borrow a quote from the vivid wordsmith Williams herself, this poignant sequel is like "thinking you had eaten the last cherry Jolly Rancher out of the bag and then opening it and finding two more." (Ages 12 to 18) --Jennifer HubertAbout the Author:
Lori Aurelia Williams is the author of When Kambia Elaine Flew In from Neptune and Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues. She holds a master's degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was awarded both a James A. Michener Fellowship and a scholarship in creative writing. Born in Houston, Lori Aurelia Williams lives in Austin.
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