When November Nelson loses her boyfriend, Josh, to a pledge stunt gone horribly wrong, she thinks her life can't possibly get any worse. But Josh left something behind that will change November's life forever, and now she's faced with the biggest decision she could ever imagine. How in the world will she tell her mom? And how will Josh's parents take the news? She's never needed a friend more.
Jericho Prescott lost his best friend when he lost his cousin, Josh, and the pain is almost more than he can bear. His world becomes divided into "before" and "after" Josh's death. He finds the only way he can escape the emptiness he feels is to quit doing the things that made him happy when his cousin was alive, such as playing his beloved trumpet, and take up football, where he hopes the physical pain will suppress the emotional. But will hiding behind shoulder pads really help? And will his gridiron obsession present him from being there for his cousin's girlfriend when she needs him most?
Jericho and November, locked together in pain from the past and fear for the future, find that the blues can resonate in the youngest of lives, and that truth is sometimes found in the smallest rays of sunshine.
The sequel to The Battle of Jericho is a no-holds-barred look at what happens when life doesn't go as planned, by the acclaimed author of the 2007 Coretta Scott King Award winner Copper Sun.
1. What made you decide to write a sequel to The Battle of Jericho?
Lots of readers wrote to me and asked what happened to Jericho, to the remaining members of the Warriors of Distinction, and to the girls in their lives. I decided to continue the story by focusing on November, Josh's girlfriend, as well as Jericho, who was also traumatized by the tragedy in the first book. Jericho chooses football as a means of dealing with his grief. November is forced to make choices as well, many she had not planned on. I'm working on a third book for that series now.
2. Your novels often deal with controversial issues such as teen hazing in The Battle of Jericho and now teen pregnancy in November Blues. Why is it important to you to bring attention to these issues through your writing?
Teenagers live in a stressful and confusing world and face difficult decisions every day. Instead of avoiding issues they must deal with, I choose to address the problems they might encounter though fictional characters and situations. I get emails every single day from young people who thank me for writing about subjects that are meaningful to them. I try not to preach--I just put the problems in the lives of characters and see what happens when they make decisions.
3. What is the significance of Jericho’s newfound feelings for Olivia—a girl who is physically different than many of the girls in school?
Olivia is a strong, intelligent young woman that I think readers will admire and respect. Too often we judge each other by our physical appearance instead of our personality and characters. Olivia deserves a boyfriend like Jericho, and Jericho learns that looks, as well as girls like Arielle, can be very superficial.
4. This year, you won the prestigious Coretta Scott King award for your book, Copper Sun, spoke at the National Book Awards and you were nominated for an NAACP Image Award. What were those experiences like and what do these awards mean to you?
Award ceremonies are thrilling and the honors are tremendous. I'm blessed to be chosen to receive them. No two days are ever the same in my life--it's a wonderful rollercoaster. But my real reward comes in letters from young readers, and from teachers and librarians who tell me that my books make a difference in their lives. That's true honor.
5. How has being a teacher affected your writing style and the genres you choose to write?
I think because I was a teacher of adolescents for so long that I have a feel for the pulse of the teen audience. I believe in them, I respect them, and I admire them. And I think they know that. They trust me to write for them and tell their stories, and they tell me they eagerly await the next book.
6. Some of your titles, such as Copper Sun, are historical fiction, but November Blues takes place in the current day. Which do you prefer to write and why?
Historical fiction is daunting because of all the research. It's really important to make sure every fact, every date, every detail is correct. But at least those details don't change. Contemporary fiction is also difficult to write sometimes because modern culture, which changes almost daily, must be captured and made to seem realistic. Modern music, clothing styles, electronic gadgets--all those things must be perfectly blended with the story of teenagers living in today's world. I like the challenge of writing both.