BETWEEN THE LINES
Hattie Percha is crushed when the riots start on her tenth birthday, and when she must move away from her treasured childhood home and friends, attending public school for the first time, she’s afraid her life is over. Then, she meets Beverly Jo Nichols, her first black friend, and Crackers, a fearless tomboy. Despite opposition from Hattie’s mother and a racist teacher, the unlikely friends join forces. As the self-proclaimed Dream Girls, they challenge bigotry and intolerance, willing to do whatever it takes to hold onto what’s most precious to them all, their friendship.
Growing up in Detroit, I was always concerned about differences and wanted life to be fair. I’m not sure if I was born this way or if my upbringing rooted this belief in me, but it didn’t take long for me to learn that life is anything but fair. Still, I made it my personal mission to try and help people settle their differences in an equitable manner, and be kind to everyone, no matter how different they were from me.
When the Detroit riots started on my fifteenth birthday, like Hattie, I was devastated. But the riots also cemented this sense of wonder in me. Why couldn’t all people get along?
Crackers, Beverly, and I met in college, and when I came to write a novel for my students, I couldn’t think of a better place to begin than with a story inspired by our true friendship, one that has lasted for over forty years.
Some people would call me naïve, I suppose, but I firmly believe that with the right education, much like Jane Elliot’s diversity training, we could learn to celebrate differences and live together in peace. I’m sure that my sense of fairness, my fascination with learning more about how all of us negotiate the world, and my desire to make a difference led me to teaching and to the field of special education.
Writing Between the Lines was a somewhat selfish endeavor for me. Now I can spend more time back in the classroom, where my heart belongs.