Buckhanon takes us to Chicago, 1992, and into the life of fifteen-year-old Shivana Golding, who believes most Black women wind up the same: single and raising children alone, like her mother. Until the sudden visit of her charismatic and free-spirited Aunt Jewel, Shivana spends her days desperately struggling to understand life and confront the challenges she faces growing up in a tough environment. When she accidentally becomes pregnant by an older man and must decide what to do, she begins a journey toward adulthood with only a mysterious voice inside to guide her. Then, when she falls in love with Rasul, a teenager with problems of his own, together they fight to rise above their circumstances and move toward a more positive future.
Through a narrative that sweeps from slavery onward, Buckhanon unveils Shivana’s connection to a past filled with tragedy, courage, and wisdom.
Kalisha Buckhanon's first novel Upstate won an American Library Association Alex Award and was nominated for the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award in Debut Fiction. Terry McMillan selected her to receive the first Terry McMillan Young Author Award in 2006. A recipient of a 2001 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship and an Andrew Mellon Fellow, Buckhanon frequently teaches writing and speaks throughout the country. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New School University in New York City, and both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. She was born in 1977 in Kankakee, Illinois.