No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...Find out more
Karyn Parsons is perhaps best known for her role as Will Smith's ditsy cousin Hilary Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Karyn has gone on to found Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning foundation which shares stories about unsung black heroes in history, and How High The Moon is Karyn's self-authored debut novel. She lives and works in New York. Follow her on Instagram.
Illuminating, compassionate and beautifully written, this remarkable fact-based debut tells the story of eleven-year-old Ella, who lives in small town South Carolina with her cousin Henry and orphan Myrna, all three of them cared for by Granny and Poppy while Ella’s jazz singing mama works in Boston. In South Carolina, “bad things can happen to colored folks”, as Myrna describes it, including lynching, and Ella sees Boston as something of a promised land, a place where “coloured folks could go anywhere they wanted”, where “fancy was just life” and people “were sophisticated". When a telegram arrives inviting her to stay with Mama, Ella is over the moon but, while non-segregation is an eye-opening wonder, Boston life isn’t everything she’d hoped for. With Mama either working at a ship-fitters, working singing in a club, or tired from working, she’s lonely, and also unhappy about having to share her Mama with roommate Helen, with whom Mama shares a bed, and she’s also frustrated by her mother’s evasion of questions about her daddy. Throughout, the novel is subtly brilliant at capturing children’s uncomfortable glimpses into unfathomable aspects of adulthood. Then, when Mama gets a singing opportunity, Ella returns to the family who’ve been missing her like mad and the shocking news that her classmate has been arrested for murdering two white girls. This authentically-voiced, unforgettable tale of identity, injustice, friendship and resilience is as harrowing on the horrifying realities of racism and segregation as it is suffused in love and hope, with Ella, Henry and Myrna’s alternating narratives providing powerfully captivating insights into how it might have felt to be a black child growing up in the segregation-era Southern States.
_____ Boston was nothing like South Carolina. Up there, colored folks could go anywhere they wanted. Folks didn't wait for church to dress in their fancy clothes. Fancy was just life. Mama was a city girl . . . and now I was going to be one too. It's 1944, and in a small, Southern, segregated town, eleven-year-old Ella spends her summers running wild with her cousins and friends. But life isn't always so sunny. The deep racial tension that simmers beneath their town's peaceful facade never quite goes away, and Ella misses her mama - a beautiful jazz singer, who lives in Boston. So when an invitation arrives to come to Boston for a visit Ella is ecstatic - and the trip proves life-changing in more ways than one. For the first time, Ella sees what life outside of segregation is like, and begins to dream of a very different future. But her happiness is shattered when she returns home to the news that her classmate has been arrested for the murder of two white girls - and nothing will ever be the same again. A beautifully written and deeply moving story about finding and fighting for your place in the world.