When I was a little girl, we lived across the street from the local library. It was small and old and dark, and sometimes it smelled kind of musty and rank, but I’d go there every Friday anyway and come home with an armful of books that I would read over the weekend and then return on Monday. The librarians there were always so excited that I loved books the way they did. They took an interest in me, listened to me, made it a point to get to know what I liked and disliked, and treated me like I was the most special reader they’d ever known. I loved it there.
I don’t spend much time at the library anymore, and when I do, it’s mostly to work on school projects, which really is not all that much fun for me. So these days, when I want to be surrounded by books and have conversations with people who love them like I do, I go to the Mahogany Bookshelf, this little bookstore right next to the downtown mall. They mostly carry books written by black authors, and pretty much all their customers are from neighborhoods like mine. There are probably bookstores closer to where most of us live—even the mall itself has a bookstore—but I think we all try to buy from this particular spot because if we don’t, the big chain bookstores that started taking over will put them out of business. I don’t want to see that happen. I like the owners and the staffers at the Mahogany Bookshelf. They make everyone who comes through the door feel like family. And no one can sell black books the way black bookstores can anyway, that’s just my opinion.
I’m here today because they’re hosting a book signing event for one of my favorite authors, Nairobi St. John, and there’s no way in the world I’d miss that. I want her to sign my personal copy of her latest book, which I’m buying today with the cash I earned babysitting this bratty little girl that lives down the street from me. I’m spending nearly half my earnings from that gig. Hardcover books are expensive, but I love owning as many as I can afford.
I can’t wait for the day when I’m an author and people are lining up on a Saturday morning to have me sign their copies of my books the way they are today for Nairobi St. John. The line is all the way outside the store and bent around the corner, and people behind me are complaining that it’s moving too slow. I want people complaining that way about my book signings someday too when I have a bestselling title on the shelves.
Title: K My Name is Kendra
Author: Kamichi Jackson
Genre: Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Kendra James’ life begins to spiral out of control with the return of her long-lost runaway sister Meisha, and the visit of a young celebrity uncle with questionable intentions. Things take a particular turn for the worse when that uncle exploits Kendra’s loneliness and untreated depression and makes a move on her that sends her world into a tailspin from which she’s not sure she’ll ever recover. Will she survive this tragedy…or will she hit rock-bottom before anyone even notices?
In addition to K My Name Is Kendra, Kamichi Jackson is the author of an eBook entitled Where Present Meets Past (originally available as part of the now-defunct Amazon Shorts Program), the middle reader book You’re Too Much, Reggie Brown, a forthcoming adult novel entitled The Brownstone, two unproduced screenplays, and several short stories. KJ has made numerous appearances in support of her work, among them the Baltimore Book Festival. When not writing, Kamichi is likely off somewhere singing karaoke. The South Norwalk, Connecticut native currently resides in Northern Virginia with family.
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