Tag Archives: Tonya Cherie Hegamin

10 Diverse YA Historicals About Girls

In honor of Women’s History Month, here are 10 diverse young adult historical novels about girls. Descriptions are from Worldcat.

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis (Alfred A. Knopf)

Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women’s Army Corps.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (Houghton Mifflin)

Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove is locked away in the Wildthorn Hall mental institution, where she is stripped of her identity and left to wonder who has tried to destroy her life.

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In free verse, evokes the voice of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, a book-loving writer, feminist, and abolitionist who courageously fought injustice in nineteenth-century Cuba. Includes historical notes, excerpts from her writings, biographical information, and source notes.

Willow by Tonya Cherie Hegamin (Candlewick Press)

In 1848 Willow, a fifteen-year-old educated slave girl, faces an inconceivable choice – between bondage and freedom, family and love – as free born, seventeen-year-old Cato, a black man, takes it upon himself to sneak as many fugitive slaves to freedom as he can on the Mason-Dixon Line.

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman (Arthur A. Levine Books)

When Jade Moon, born in the unlucky year of the Fire Horse, and her father immigrate to America in 1923 and are detained at Angel Island Immigration Station, Jade Moon is determined to find a way through and prove that she is not cursed.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano (Scholastic)

It is 1969 in Spanish Harlem, and fourteen-year-old Evelyn Serrano is trying hard to break free from her conservative Puerto Rican surroundings, but when her activist grandmother comes to stay and the neighborhood protests start, things get a lot more complicated–and dangerous.

Anahita’s Woven Riddle by Meghan Nuttall Sayres (Amulet)

In Iran, more than 100 years ago, a young girl with three suitors gets permission from her father and a holy man to weave into her wedding rug a riddle to be solved by her future husband, which will ensure that he has wit to match hers.

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman (Penguin)

In India, in 1941, when her father becomes brain-damaged in a non-violent protest march, fifteen-year-old Vidya and her family are forced to move in with her father’s extended family and become accustomed to a totally different way of life.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)

When young American pilot Rose Justice is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp, she finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery, and friendship of her fellow prisoners.

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang (Delacorte)

Emmajin, the sixteen-year-old eldest granddaughter of Khublai Khan, becomes a warrior and falls in love with explorer Marco Polo in thirteenth-century China.

New Releases – February 2014

Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers by Steve Berman (Lethe Press)

“The positivity that runs throughout the book, even in stories that end on gruesome or eerie notes, is the best part: the sense of ‘coming out’ in many of these pieces is also a sort of coming to life, or a coming into the self. The undercurrent of acceptance despite the odds is pleasant and heart-warming. These are stories about kids finding out what it means to be themselves, and how to be with other people. That’s good stuff…” — Tor.com

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson (Knopf)

“A teenage girl from an unnamed Middle Eastern country attempts to come to terms with her dictator father’s bloody legacy in this absorbing character-driven novel authored by a former CIA official. … Laila is a complex and layered character whose nuanced observations will help readers better understand the divide between American and Middle Eastern cultures. Smart, relevant, required reading.” — Kirkus, starred review

Changers Book One: Drew by T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper (Akashic Books)

“A thought-provoking exploration of identity, gender, and sexuality. … An excellent read for any teens questioning their sense of self or gender.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Worlds We Make by Megan Crewe (Hyperion)

Book description: When Kaelyn and her friends reached Toronto with a vaccine for the virus that has ravaged the population, they thought their journey was over-but hope has eluded them once again. Now there is a dangerous group of survivors intent on tracking them down and stealing the cure no matter the costs.

Forced onto the road again, Kaelyn redoubles her efforts to find a safe haven. But when the rest of her group starts to fall apart, the chances for her success grow slim. Kaelyn’s resolve is strong, but is she willing to surrender everything in order to stay alive?

Boy on the Edge by Fridrik Erlings (Candlewick)

“Henry ‘had never seen anyone as ugly as himself’; his odd appearance and clubfoot make him a target for bullies, and his stutter and difficulties with reading lead him to keep his emotions bottled up. … a poetic and powerful novel.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Willow by Tonya Cherie Hegamin (Candlewick)

“A solid historical foundation, strong characterizations, and lyrical descriptions highlight Hegamin’s rich novel about slavery and black/white relations before the Civil War. … Engrossing and educational.” — Publishers Weekly

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe (Viking)

“Learning that her parents plan to place her unpredictably violent autistic brother in a group home, accomplished trumpet player and responsible older sister Daisy Meehan experiments with bad behavior in her junior year in high school, trying to figure out how she feels about it. … An intriguing medley of music, teen romance, high school life and serious family issues.” — Kirkus

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (Candlewick)

“In a sorely needed resource for teens and, frankly, many adults, author/photographer Kuklin shares first-person narratives from six transgender teens, drawn from interviews she conducted and shaped with input from her subjects. … its chief value isn’t just in the stories it reveals but in the way Kuklin captures these teenagers not as idealized exemplars of what it “means” to be transgender but as full, complex, and imperfect human beings.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Unintentional Time Traveler by Everett Maroon (Booktrope Editions)

Book Description: Fifteen-year-old Jack Bishop has mad skills with cars and engines, but knows he’ll never get a driver’s license because of his epilepsy. Agreeing to participate in an experimental clinical trial to find new treatments for his disease, he finds himself in a completely different body—that of a girl his age, Jacqueline, who defies the expectations of her era. Since his seizures usually give him spazzed out visions, Jack presumes this is a hallucination. Feeling fearless, he steals a horse, expecting that at any moment he’ll wake back up in the clinical trial lab. When that doesn’t happen, Jacqueline falls unexpectedly in love, even as the town in the past becomes swallowed in a fight for its survival. Jack/Jacqueline is caught between two lives and epochs, and must find a way to save everyone around him as well as himself. And all the while, he is losing time, even if he is getting out of algebra class.

Storm by Donna Jo Napoli (Paula Wiseman Books)

“Napoli (Skin) draws from the story of Noah’s Ark in this account of a Canaanite girl, Sebah, with a big problem: rain, which sweeps away her family, home, and the ground beneath her feet. … Napoli’s focus on Sebah’s immediate circumstances allows her to grow organically as a character, bringing a satisfying realism to this familiar story.” — Publishers Weekly

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier (Strange Chemistry)

Book Description:  Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge—the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases—like for Natividad’s father and older brother—Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)

“Schrefer switches focus from bonobos to chimpanzees in this engrossing, meticulously researched, and gripping tale of survival in the deep wilds of Gabon, a thematic follow-up to 2012’s Endangered. … Schrefer’s passion for the material and empathy for the characters shows on every page, and his non-human subjects are every bit as complex and fascinating as narrator Luc.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Happy Endings Are All Alike by Sandra Scoppettone (Lizzie Skurnick Books — re-release)

Book Description: Sandra Scoppettone’s 1978 lesbian young adult romance was a novel ahead of its time. The story follows the relationship between high school seniors Jaret and Peggy. At a time when girls were only allowed to date boys, Jaret and Peggy know they had to keep their love a secret. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and before long they have to contend with the confusion and outright hatred of those closest to them. But nothing compares to the danger ahead, and the tragedy that will not just test their faith in their relationship, but their belief in themselves.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Dutton)

“Austin is in love with two people—his girlfriend, Shann, and his best friend Robby; neither of them is okay with it but, as Austin frequently repeats, ‘I was so confused.’ … Filled with gonzo black humor, Smith’s outrageous tale makes serious points about scientific research done in the name of patriotism and profit, the intersections between the personal and the global, the weight of history on the present, and the often out-of-control sexuality of 16-year-old boys.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Feral Curse by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick)

“Campy humor is paired with themes of social justice in this fast-paced, clever second volume in the Feral series. … [T]he dynamics among characters are fascinating and are well-served by the first-person narration alternating between Yoshi and Kayla. A neat, smart middle novel that clearly sets the stage for an epic showdown between those who champion the rights of shifters and those blind to their humanity.” — Kirkus

The Tinker King by Tiffany Trent (Simon and Schuster)

“The prize for saving the world is having to do it all over again in this companion to the steampunk romance The Unnaturalists (2012). … lush, with a nice touch of Victorian post-humanism for an original twist.” — Kirkus

5 Things Tonya C. Hegamin Learned From Writing WILLOW

By Tonya C. Hegamin

new-hegamin-willowIn 1848, an educated slave girl faces an inconceivable choice — between bondage and freedom, family and love.

On one side of the Mason-Dixon Line lives fifteen-year-old Willow, her master’s favorite servant. She’s been taught to read and has learned to write. She believes her master is good to her and fears the rebel slave runaways. On the other side of the line is seventeen-year-old Cato, a black man, free born. It’s his personal mission to sneak as many fugitive slaves to freedom as he can. Willow’s and Cato’s lives are about to intersect, with life-changing consequences for both of them. Tonya Cherie Hegamin’s moving coming-of-age story is a poignant meditation on the many ways a person can be enslaved, and the force of will needed to be truly emancipated.

(Book Description from Candlewick Press)

1. I have to get really wrapped up in the work.

I guess most writers get all emo about their characters but I know now more than ever that it is a vital part of the process. If I don’t feel the character as though I am living through them, nothing will work. I wanted this to be a love story because love changes humans so deeply. Familial relationships for slaves in the 1840s were bleak and unlikely, and so was romantic love. I wanted to know how that would translate for someone who had the choice between the two, a painful place to be in emotionally. I love authors who get me emotionally wrapped up in their work, and usually it’s because of those deep connections that I often read an author’s entire work, at least until I feel a disconnect. Then I know it’s time to break up. It’s like having an intimate relationship with another person’s brain.

tonyachegamin
Author Tonya C. Hegamin

2. Just like being in love, I like beginnings better than endings.

It’s easy to fall in love. I like to believe that all humans are loveable and deserve love. The hardest part is staying in love and knowing when to let love go. Like I said, love changes people, yet we are all resistant to change. So when I’m writing I get caught up in this person I created, in their world. I’m in love with it because I birthed it, I loved it into existence. I don’t want to let it go sometimes, although there are moments I want to chuck it all into a skillfully built bonfire. And then just when I think I can’t stand it anymore, and there’s the temptation to let it all go, I can’t think of how to put an end to this thing I’ve created. I want to live in the world I know so well, where I know there are more discoveries and challenges that I could create and experience, but everything must end. As long as the letting go is treated as a lesson in bravery, gracefulness and compassion, it has possibility. Willow has been with me for years; it was hard to let the ending happen, to tie it up finally. Perhaps subconsciously my relationship with Willow isn’t over; I have dreams of what her children would be like.

3. I really do have to read it out loud. And I really do hate that.

I often tell my writing students to read their work aloud. It helps to vocalize your vision, to feel it vibrate as it hits the air. I sing my poetry sometimes, but I’m a reluctant performer. In fiction there are a lot of words that could always have been sliced, phrases that get clunky. It’s an organic living thing in some respects, so there’s always a new layer or microscopic world view. Things you only see after draft and draft and draft, there’s always things that make you cringe and seem to only surface when you’ve had some space from the work.  Lucky for Willow, I had the blessing of having my dear friend E.B. Lewis, who also illustrated the cover, as an audience. He heard the first pages and demanded more. Then he made me read it to other people. Of course, it was the best thing for me and for Willow.

4. Nobody cares that you’re “writing a book.”

It’s sad but true. Not that people don’t want you to succeed, or that they don’t think you’re a good writer. It’s just that they may underestimate the amount of brain space required to download creativity from the cosmos. No two writers have the same process, so sometimes not even a fellow writer can give one hundred percent of a damn. You have to be ok with that. People in your life need you for different things, and inadvertently they will pull you away from writing, or stroke your procrastinating tendencies. I don’t just mean haters, I mean the people you find it hard to say no to the most because they do genuinely love and need you. You have to care the most about your work, what you’re trying to so artfully express. I’ve tried living in isolation and for a while that works until life happens. I went through some serious life lessons and struggles while writing Willow, things that threatened my commitment to even continuing as a writer because it does require so much raw energy. Unless you’re a narcissist, it’s hard to say NO and to deal with those consequences gracefully, to articulate “loving boundaries” for yourself and others, but it has to be done.

5. Be willing to throw in the kitchen sink.

I like to play “What If.” I make up stories and reasons for everything, it’s a habit. I also have a habit of holding on to memories; I’m an archivist. Doing historical research can be addicting because you can make up stories about small details or re-envision whole time periods just by inserting your own perspective; it’s easy to overindulge. There are so many roads and avenues to take with your imagination but only a few can sustain a novel. There was a point that I had to allow myself to put in any idea, just because it kept me writing. Even if it didn’t go with the original storyline, I just put it down in a journal or made a comment to myself on the margin. I keep multiple journals that have mostly random ideas and notes that might become useful or inspiring. Although Sylvia Plath said self-doubt was the enemy of creativity, I think self-censorship is the worst.


Willow is now available. Find out more about Tonya Cherie Hegamin at her website.