Books can help people escape the world they are living in. Books can also help people navigate their world. It is just as powerful to have refuge as it is to have something or someone you can relate to. When she was a young girl, Mariama J. Lockington couldn’t find books about black female youth adoptees like herself. Her forthcoming novel For Black Girls Like Me, the book she says she needed growing up, is now helping to contribute to the literary representation as well as conversation about black girls who have been adopted by white and/or other non-black families.
“As far as transracial adoption, I think there are a lot of narratives that exist in the media and in the world that really center the voice of adoptive parents, and I was interested in a story that centered the voice of an actual adoptee,” Lockington tells So Booking Cool.
“I played around a little bit with the idea of the adoption fairy-tale narrative. I think that there is an assumption that adoption is a fairy-tale sometimes and that it’s a win-win situation and a family comes together in this way and everyone is really happy and lucky. And those things can be true, but there is also a lot of grief and unknown things, and just wondering, and challenges that come up with the experience as well, and it was really important to me to put that in the book.”
The book, Lockington hopes, will spark discussions about what it means to belong as well as race, identity, and friendship.
In part one of our conversation, Lockington discusses the font behind her book, how her Buzzfeed essay led to her book deal, the first person who encouraged her to write, why she doesn’t believe in writer’s block, how she gauged that Makeda‘s story was best told in the middle grade voice, how her previous work with middle schoolers helped with the dialogue in her book, and more!