Title: GIRLS LIKE US
Author: Randi Pink
Pub. Date: October 29, 2019
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Set in the summer of 1972, this moving YA historical novel is narrated by teen girls from different backgrounds with one thing in common: Each girl is dealing with pregnancy.
Four teenage girls. Four different stories. What they all have in common is that they’re dealing with unplanned pregnancies.
In rural Georgia, Izella is wise beyond her years, but burdened with the responsibility of her older sister, Ola, who has found out she’s pregnant. Their young neighbor, Missippi, is also pregnant, but doesn’t fully understand the extent of her predicament. When her father sends her to Chicago to give birth, she meets the final narrator, Susan, who is white and the daughter of an anti-choice senator.
Randi Pink masterfully weaves four lives into a larger story – as timely as ever – about a woman’s right to choose her future.
“Come here, you.” Mrs. Mac lifted her unsteady hand. Her hand reminded Ola of the screen door hanging on its hinges. “I’ll read you.”
Ola walked forward, intentionally ignoring the mess at her feet. She wanted to be read. She wanted to know if her and Walter’s picket fence would be white or red. She wanted to find out, once and for all, how many kids they’d have. She wanted to look into her beautiful future and know. She needed to know.
Ola looked at the old woman and smiled, she’d won. She was about to get read.
Mrs. Mac grabbed her hand tighter than Ola thought possible. She cried out in pain, but the old woman wouldn’t let go. The pain changed. It started as a simple squeeze, like when the nurse is taking blood pressure, and it turned into a heat like embers. Her hand burned so badly Ola felt tears streaming from the side of her eye. Just as quickly as she’d snatched her hand, the woman let go. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, but it felt like an hour.
Mrs. Mac stared wide eyed at the front of Ola’s neck. She squinted her blind eyes as if she was focusing in on a small bit of something near Ola’s Adam’s apple. “Lean in closer,” she said.
Ola leaned in a bit.
“Closer than that, you.”
She leaned in closer still.
Squinting at Ola’s neck, Mrs. Mac whispered, almost pitying, “You’ve got a heartbeat in your neck, gal.”
Izella leaped from her seated position and grasped her mouth in horror. But Ola had no idea what that meant. She grabbed her neck, thinking she’d been snake-bitten or rubbed too much into some poison oak. From the look on Izella’s face, it had to be bad. “What is it? What does that mean? What’s on me?”
“It ain’t what’s on you,” said Mrs. Mac. “It’s what’s in you. That garbageman already coming for you, child.”
Second Potential Excerpt- From Author’s Note
I grew up in the southern United States, and most of my elders were black women raised in the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia. These women were champions to me, but their faces twisted with pain at the topic of backwoods abortion. They had known, or known of, someone who died in those backwoods, and the death of an unwed black girl didn’t make the evening news.
Back then, unmarried pregnant black girls sat at the bottom of the bottomless pit of judgment with zero hope of rising out of it. The lucky ones had at least one supportive family member to help them navigate their predicament, but most were tossed aside as soiled human beings. In a small town filled with such antagonism, a girl could get desperate. And at the core of desperation rests a dangerous lack of restraint, which, in many cases, came in the form of wire hangers, homemade concoctions, and female death.
There’s no way to know how many young women died in the backwoods, but regardless of political stance on the law itself, Roe v. Wade eliminated a fair amount of that death through safer options. I know this from the mouths of those who lived through it, many of whom are still living to tell the tale to anyone who cares to hear it.
One particular pregnant black girl who died in the backwoods inspired the writing of this novel. I will never reveal her name or the person who told me about her, but I’ve known her my whole life. Intangible her. The ghost of her, staring at the clear blue sky before dying in her mother’s arms a few hours later. The ripple her death created within her nuclear family and her neighborhood still exists today. And unbeknownst to any of them, that ripple eventually morphed into the tsunami inside me called Girls Like Us.
Still, I toiled whether to release this book. The concept lived in the notes of my iPhone for many years. And the original draft was an intentionally detached contemporary tale relating in no way to the girl who inspired it. Then, in the summer of 2018, the Supreme Court flipped, and I thought, Life is indeed a circle.
I scrapped the majority of what I’d written and rewrote the whole novel as historical fiction. The voices of my elders helped me along in writing this book, too many to name here. Today, the pendulum swings dangerously close to those backwoods. And if life is a circle, the string that holds the heavy weight of the law could snap under societal pressure. Leading so many choiceless girls back to 1972.
A native and resident of Birmingham, AL, Randi Pink leverages her unique experience with her southern roots when she writes. Randi is a mother, a wife, a writer, an advocate, a fighter, a friend, and so much more. Through a platform of encouragement, advice, and love, Randi loves connecting with the community around her and her loyal community of readers.
Randi Pink is a proud student of University of Alabama at Birmingham’s creative writing program. In 2013, Randi gained her inspiration for her first novel when working on an assignment for a Children’s Literature course. Although it was originally titled “TOYA”, Randi’s first novel “Into White” was published in 2016 and can be found on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Read more about this novel here.
After publishing her first novel, Randi started got right to work on her second novel, “Girls Like Us”. Inspired by the passing of shocking policies for abortion and other threats to women’s rights in her home state as well as her nation, Randi decided it was time to humanize the faces behind abortion. “Girls Like Us” will hit the shelves in October 2019.
Randi continues to write every day, from short stories that you can find in Randi’s Room to personal writings for herself and her close network. Randi can be found promoting her next book, in her garden, and soaking up family time with her favorite people.
3 winners will receive a hardcover of GIRLS LIKE US, US only.
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