After having 3 migraines in 24 hours, I went to work today for 5 hours of advising. It wasn’t as chaotic as I thought it would be, and I was glad I had some tissue to share when a young woman sat down and burst into tears. She had hoped to earn a scholarship to Barnard but then a friend and a close relative committed suicide in the same year. She withdrew from all her courses and took a full-time job but was eventually let go. Now she’s back at school, feeling like she messed up. I don’t know a whole lot about our degree requirements (I take a training every year but the rules keep changing) but I know a little something about losing a loved one to suicide. I hope that student believed me when I told her that 1) she was not responsible for what happened to her loved ones, and 2) it wasn’t too late to resume her studies and impress the scholarship committee at Barnard. As expected, she hadn’t told them about her extenuating circumstances and so I encouraged her to write a letter or explain in person. I probably only advised 10 students today but talking to them one on one reminds me why I love to teach at the college level—and why I write for young adults. They’re on the cusp—no longer innocent yet so much of the world is still unknown to them. Life is still exciting and they believe in their own potential; they haven’t yet become jaded or defeated. I received so much support from the educators in my life, so I hope I’m doing the same for my own students. My high school English teacher read The Deep and sent me this rave review in an email:
The Deep is a real page-turner that had me on the edge of my couch, reading fast to find out what would happen next. I really enjoyed the characters, the whole mad idea, and the well constructed, believable dialogue. I was sad to see the last of Nyla, although I believe she is on to a new phase that you will bring to your readers. The idea of her finding her mother is very gripping, while the other characters are also quite credible and interesting. I was surprised at how effective the whole idea was, because at another level, of course, it is outrageous to imagine: it was impressive to recognize the invented separate world that the reader could accept along with carefully devised characters from the real world. These parents behave like normal parents and the long-lost mother shows very interestingly the different sides of her torn character. The edge of ruthlessness in Nyla’s personality is both shocking and encouraging: the cause needs her courage.
Then yesterday, in between migraines, I got this lovely message from my aunt who had just finished the novel:
I didn’t want it to end…and turned the last page muttering…’NO”…you can’t do this to me!”Zetta “The Deep’ is so good…The ultimate fight of good over evil is so skillfully portrayed and your character development took me intimately into the lives of D, Keem, Nyla, Roan and Lada…So you know what I am going to ask you…the sequel? When? Hoping you will reach under your bed and pull out the finished manuscript and say…Oh…well…I was going to wait but Faith needs it now so I will publish it sooner :))I am so incredibly proud of you…of your ability and the way you are developing strong black women in literature as role models…Love you…