A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott 2008
I.Q. (Incredible quote, a line that is quotable, it can be funny, beautiful and/or deep) "Sometimes I feel like there's a tattoo on my forehead that says 'ghetto'. And I don't know if it'll ever go away, not even if I change my clothes, move out of this neighborhood, and graduate from college.. ... The thing is, everyone who's black ain't ghetto, and everyone who's ghetto ain't black." Genna
This book is amazing. I wanted to just read it all day, but I had to keep setting it down to pick up my siblings or go to my job (which made me irritable, I'm sure my family is relieved that I finished this book and they can talk to me again without fear of me biting their head off for interrupting my reading). As a full disclosure, Zetta did send me this book, but (as with all books I get sent) I reviewed this with no special treatment or preference or anything in mind. I am not exaggerating about how much I loved this book, if I hadn't liked it you would know.
The I.Q. line is something that I've tried to explain so many times, that 'everyone whose black isn't ghetto and everyone whose ghetto isn't black' to so many people, to no avail! I'm the farthest thing from ghetto, but there were kids in my middle school who were convinced that I was ghetto, like Genna says (I'm paraphrasing here) about Hannah (a white lady who befriends her) you can tell that people are disappointed that you aren't acting ghetto or 'black enough' around them. I was really able to relate to Genna and so many thoughts that I'd had (like the ghetto quote) were expressed in this book.
My favorite character is Genna. I see myself in her for the most part. I admire the fact that she is so determined to get out of her bad neighborhood and go to college and become a psychiatrist. I also admire her strength and work ethic "sometimes people give you things and they don't know when to stop. They give too much, 'cause they want to fix all your problems, but sometimes you got to fix your own problems, your own kind of way." I think she really grows when she's transported back in time, positive changes and real growth occur.
AWAM is about 15 year old Genna Colon (she's Panamanian and Black like me!!), who lives in a bad Brooklyn neighborhood that she wants to get away from. Genna believes in wishes and everyday she visits a fountain in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and throws a penny in and makes a wish. She wishes that she were different and that she could be someone else and live a different life. She gets her wish and goes back in time to 1863 Brooklyn. Life in 1863 Brooklyn isn't necessarily any easier than life in 2001 Brooklyn.
My other favorite character is Paul. There are two boys in Genna's life, Judah and Paul. Judah is the boy from 2001 Brooklyn and Paul is a boy she meets in 1863 Brooklyn. Judah likes reggae, has dreadlocks, and is Jamaican. He's serious, has strong opinions and doesn't like America. He wants to visit and maybe even live in Africa. I liked Judah in the beginning of the book, but he really got on my nerves afterwards (read the book to find out why!). Paul on the other hand is different. Part of the difference may have to do with the different time periods, Judah living in the present, Paul in the past. Paul is half-white, half-black, funny and saves Genna's life. He asks permission to "call on her" (so cute! ahh 1800s romance...), but Genna refuses because she feels beholden to Judah. I don't really understand why Genna is so loyal to Judah since they are in two different time periods. I think it's because Judah made her feel special for the first time in her life and so she doesn't want to let him go because she's afraid no other guy will find her special. But Paul does find her special! He listens to her as well. Forget Team Edward and Team Jacob (I'm no Twilight fan), there should be a Team Judah and a Team Paul! I'm definitely on Team Paul. Thank goodness there will be a sequel, Judah's Tale (release date TBA). Hopefully, Paul will be back and Genna will come to her senses!
Another interesting part of the story was the attitude that white abolitionists in the North held towards African Americans. They wanted to help them, but still viewed AAs as inferior. They didn't want them to be slaves, but they didn't think they could go to college or hold certain jobs. The author did an excellent job of using dialogue and details to showcase that fact.
I can't stress enough, why people should read this book. I didn't find the book as much sci-fi /fantasy as I did historical fiction. An interesting aspect of the time traveling was that (unlike in other books I've read about time travel) while Genna was in 1863, life in 2001 moved on. Usually, time stops or the person isn't gone for as long as they think they are. I can't recommend this book enough. 8th grade and up. For historical fiction lovers, sci-fi/fantasy (time travel element) lovers, fans of realistic fiction and all people who just want to read an amazing story. The characters are deep and complex, the plot is new (I didn't know anything about New York City during the 1860s, especially the fact that there were riots going on during the Civil War in NYC) and the writing is just all around superb. Warning: The ending is a cliffhanger, be prepared! This book is in my list of top 10 favorite books.
A bit off topic here but today Reading in Color is celebrating two special events! Today is our president Mr. Barack Obama's birthday (I am an unapologetic Obama fan). Happy birthday Mr. President!!
And today is Reading in Color's one-month anniversary! We made it :) Congrats to us and our followers/readers! Thanks for all the support and I'm sure this blog will continue to grow and get even better. In honor of this one-month anniversary, a contest will (hopefully) be announced this weekend. Stay tuned!