Betty May’s fabulous book, Changing Corners is free on Kindle only through February 16th 2016. I can’t recommend it highly enough, so please go and download it before you miss your chance. Though the book is YA, it is a great read for adults, but also appropriate for age 12 and up. I know you’ll love it as much as I did.
Here is the LINK to get it, and Here is the blurb:
In 1958, Bobbie doesn’t believe the southern attitude toward people of color applies to her northern world. Phillis lived in Mississippi and endured the worst effects of racial hatred, generating a mind filled with fear, distrust, and bitterness. Friends when they were five years old, the two reunite in a late 1950s Long Island high school. Phillis must convince Bobbie to confront the reality of racism even as they fight for the right to be friends.
With humor and drama, Phillis, Bobbie, and a diverse group of teenagers wage battle to change their corner of the world. At first they succeed. They share high school highs and lows and first romances. Their euphoric lives collapse when officials accuse Phillis of arson, a riot ensues, and police arrive, guns drawn. They must expose the true culprits and clear Phillis’s name before she faces undeserved years in prison.
I was so intrigued with this book, that I had to ask Betty May a few questions:
Diana: How much of Changing Corners is based upon your own life?
Betty: The setting is my high school on Long Island, I’ve always loved theater, and I had two big sisters. The conflict between Bobbie and her parents is similar to my own. I used that conflict because I needed a compelling reason for Bobbie’s determination to renew her friendship with Phillis. With her sisters grown and gone and her parents fighting all the time, Bobbie is lonely.
Diana: What is your favorite part of Changing Corners?
Betty: This goes back to the first question. Bobbie’s speech is based on a true experience I had with a neighborhood friend when I was five years old. It was fun remembering it and writing it all down. The scene in the jazz club was also true to life. Yes, Louie Armstrong kissed me! It is a memory I cherish and an event that makes me the envy of all my musician friends. I also had fun writing about the romances between Phillis and Leonard and Bobbie and Frank. I had a good time describing their dates and having the two girls fall in love at the same time.
Diana: What compelled you to write Changing Corners?
Betty: 1950s teenagers are often called the “do-nothing” generation. Consumed by their cars, poodle skirts, and dance parties, they appeared to be an unconcerned lot. However, their seemingly nonchalant, selfish lives had more to do with lack of awareness than lack of caring. Many, when confronted with the truth about racial inequality, became activists in civil rights issues—sometimes with tragic results.
Now, in the 21st century, the struggle continues.
Unfortunately, rampant racism is alive and well in the United States. And I think there are parallels between the underground racism in the 1950s northeast United States and today. It was there in the 1950s and it is here in the 21st century. We can’t fight it if we don’t own it and accept that it exists.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Betty May is a theatrical director, a writer, a high school teacher, a circus coach, and a clown. Her career in theater has taken her across the United States; to Europe where she toured England, France, and Switzerland with her Teens Onstage troupe; and to Central America where, in a Guatemalan squatters’ settlement, she founded a song and dance company of ninety children.
At present, she works with a group of female lifers at a Maryland state prison. This experience led to her book, FACES Imprisoned Women and Their Struggle with the Criminal Justice System. She is now an activist in the judicial system, testifying before congressional committees and advocating for people she once knew only through horrific headlines.
Betty and her late husband, Gerald (Jerry) G. May, M.D., have five grown children: Earl, Paul, Greg, Julie, and a late addition, Chris. She lives in Columbia, Maryland with a wussy dog and a neurotic bird.