I love book events. Talks, signings, readings… You name it and I’ll probably enjoy watching an author I admire and adore do it because I just think they’re cool.
So when news first dropped about Tomi Adeyemi going on a book tour to celebrate the release of her debut novel Children of Blood and Bone AND that she’d have a tour-stop in my lovely neck of the woods at local bookstore Books and Books AND that she’d be in conversation with the ridiculously talented Elizabeth Acevedo (whose debut novel The Poet X is also amazing), I got obnoxiously excited.
I mean… I all but put up flyers across the English department and purposefully set up our spring break session so that we’d be a three minute walk away from Books and Books. I invited my entire class and wound up in a delightful group of five — with four of the coolest people I know and well… myself.
One of my favorite things about this book talk and of watching these two amazing women of color “in conversation” was that they’re each other’s biggest fan. I mean, this was an absolutely positive and inspiring look at two female authors of color who literally couldn’t get enough of each other’s work. They gushed about their books (Tomi about Elizabeth’s and vice versa) and asked each other really insightful questions about their works and process.
It was like getting to peek at what it’s like to be like… a part of their processes almost. It was great.
Some other things I adored about the evening:
- Tomi and Elizabeth talked quite a bit about what it’s like as a first-generation kids of immigrants and how their family lives influenced their writing. I think one of my favorite things was when they talked about how the US is kind of outside of the home. I know I’m not saying it right and I absolutely should’ve remembered to record like… everything but there was something that felt so familiar to me because the apartment that I shared with my mom as a tween/teenager was St. Thomas, but even as close to the US as the Virgin Islands literally is, stepping over the threshold on the way to school was like leaving that for the US.
- They had some interesting things to say about discipline (like parental punishment) from the perspective of characters in their respective works and about cultural nuances that came up in their writing.
- They each did a reading! So good! The piece that Tomi read from Children and Blood and Bone was inspired by/written around the murder of Philando Castile and was just so raw. Like I nearly teared up at her reading because the emotion was just so dang present. And then, Elizabeth read four poems from The Poet X that were literally like… so good that the first thing I did when I got back to Host Mom’s where I’m staying for Spring Break was read them over. I had an extra audible credit (the first one I had I used to buy Children of Blood and Bone) so I also bought the audiobook for The Poet X while in line.
- They’re both just really sweet. I was too anxious to hold up the line and like really try and talk to them, but they were just the sweetest women ever. Like so kind like across the board. Like I’m going to treasure meeting them for like way longer than I probably should (but also… I still hold onto a memory of Jason Mews of Jay and Silent Bob fame wishing me “Happy Birthday” almost a decade ago so… this is par for the course with me.)
I haven’t read The Poet X yet, but I will. I got a print copy for the fourteen year old niece and I’ll be giving it to her the next time I see her. We’ll probably read it together the way we did Jenny Han’s books. I’m looking forward to it.
Right now I can speak more to what Children of Blood and Bone means to me and what I want it to mean to my nieceling because I’ve already read it and I’m working on a review of it. (I also got the nieceling a copy of that book!!)
But both books are beyond important. So are their authors.
So many YA books have come out in the past 2-3 years by women of color that have literally changed my world. These are books that tell truths, that show what we’re like, and give us focus that much of media has denied us. These are books that I could’ve used at seventeen, but that I definitely loved (and needed) at twenty-seven.
I’m so grateful for the experience I had to see Elizabeth Acevedo and Tomi Adeyemi in conversation with one another. They were delightful, adorable, and absolutely inspiring.
Go buy their books today (Amazon links only because I’m heading to bed):
(Also, while you’re here, you should check out my post on Children of Blood and Bone that I did for the book tour!)