Pieces of Why
by K. L. Going
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Release Date: September 8th 2015
From the award winning author of Fat Kid Rules the World andThe Liberation of Gabriel King comes a lyrical, middle grade gem that asks all the hard questions and hits all the right notes--perfect for fans of Cynthia Rylant and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.
Tia lives with her mom in a high-risk neighborhood in New Orleans and loves singing gospel in the Rainbow Choir with Keisha, her boisterous and assertive best friend. Tia's dream is to change the world with her voice; and by all accounts, she might be talented enough. But when a shooting happens in her neighborhood and she learns the truth about the crime that sent her father to prison years ago, Tia finds she can't sing anymore. The loss prompts her to start asking the people in her community hard questions--questions everyone has always been too afraid to ask.
Full of humanity, Pieces of Why is a timely story that addresses grief, healing, and forgiveness, told through the eyes of a gifted girl who hears rhythm and song everywhere in her life.
Franny and Zoey, by JD Salinger.
The Big Bang Theory
The Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Yes, I realize that’s actually three movies, and thus it’s probably cheating to combine them into one selection!)
Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission soundtrack.
The shire; the original cabin in Little House in the Big Woods; Avonlea from Anne of Green Gables…
Ewan McGregor… wait, he’s real. Okay then, Robin Hood.
If there is light in the soul,
There will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person,
There will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house,
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
There will be peace on Earth.
--- Chinese proverb ---
Thanks for inviting me on this tour! Book lovers are the best kind of people :)
Hello Kelly! We are super excited to have you in our FFBC tours.
Pieces of Why is the story of Tia, a small girl with a huge singing voice growing up in a tough area of New Orleans. Tia has a lot of talent, but she also has a lot of challenges to overcome – her father is in prison for murder, her mother hides from trouble, and her neighborhood is dealing with the after effects of violence. All of this threatens to silence Tia’s voice, so Tia must figure out how to reconnect to joy in order to keep doing the thing she loves the best: sing.
The best thing about Tia is her strength (although she doesn’t see that quality in herself until the end of the book). To an outside observer she might seem quiet, but beneath that reserved exterior there’s someone who is passionate and brave. She isn’t afraid to confront things straight-on, and even though she doesn’t get a lot of support from her mom, and her father isn’t involved in her life, she still has the kind of inner compass that allows her to seek out and find people who can guide her along the way.
There are always (for me, at least) a lot of different sources of inspiration that come together to form a book. Many times, they’re very different. Initially I would have said that the same was true of Pieces of Why, but I recently realized that all of my sources of inspiration had something in common: gun related violence. When I first started the book, I was thinking about how to respond to school shootings, and what I’d want to say to children who have been touched by this kind of violence. I thought back to an incident in my own life where I overheard a car-jacking in which a baby was killed, and how profoundly that affected me. I’ve often asked the question “why”… and I try to look at this hard question from both angles – from the perspective of the perpetrators and from the perspective of the victims, wondering how and when we will ever learn to overcome this part of human existence. But I don’t think we’ll transcend it until we understand it.
“I sang like a magician pulling scarves from my sleeve. More and more scarves until it didn’t seem like there could be any left. They flew up and out, every one connected to the last in a flurry of color. I sent my cool, bright sounds into the thick June air, letting the scarves weave their way through the rafters of the old church. That’s how it was that night.” (Page 19)
Actually, it’s the scene I quoted above. I loved the challenge of capturing how it feels for Tia to sing. I used to sing in a gospel choir during college, and there was so much joy in that music. Movement, color, emotion, spirit … I drew on my own memories to bring the scene alive, and that was a lot of fun.
Note to God, sung by Charice. This is the song Tia wishes she could sing for the Raven woman, and it’s the song that I’d listen to in order to get into the mood of the story. Like Tia, Charice is a tiny person, but she sings with an incredibly powerful voice, and this is exactly how I imagined Tia’s singing.
Tia: there’s a girl from the One Voice Children’s Choir… I believe her name is Lexi Walker. I don’t know if she can act, but I sure know she can sing. Her voice is amazing, and she’d make a perfect Tia if she dyed her hair black.
Keisha: A young Raven Symone because she’s so spunky!
Kenny: a young Lee Hyun Woo because he can look very vulnerable, yet strong.
Tia’s mom: Jodie Foster
Keisha’s mom: Angela Bassett
Hmm… first, I’d say listen to some classic New Orleans music. Zydeco, perhaps, to get in the New Orleans spirit, and then some gospel music to set the scene… Cook up some Jumbalaya for dinner and snack on some pralines, and then you’ll be all set!
I’m working on another novel, but in the meantime, I also have some picture books in the works, and one of them should be out next year: Pablo the Poet, illustrated by Yuyi Morales. I’ve been waiting years for this one, so I can’t wait to see it!
Thank you so much for everything, Kelly!
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KL Going is the award winning author of books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz honor book by the American Library Association, as well as one of the Best Books for Young Adults from the past decade. Her books have been Booksense picks, Scholastic Book Club choices, Junior Library Guild selections, winners of state book awards, and featured by Publishers
Weekly, School Library Journal, and Children's Book Council as Best Books. Her work has been published in Korea, Italy, Japan and the UK.
KL began her career working at one of the oldest literary agencies in New York City. She used this inner knowledge of publishing to write Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel -- a how-to book for aspiring writers, published by Writer's Digest. She has also written short stories for several anthologies and currently has two picture books under contract for future release. She currently lives in Glen Spey, NY where she both writes and runs a business critiquing manuscripts. To visit KL on-line go to www.klgoing.com.
1st Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, a Fat Kid movie, a signed Fat Kid original book cover, a signed poster of Saint Iggy and Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)
2nd Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, a signed paperback of The Liberation of Gabriel King, a sign poster for The Garden of Eve and a Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)
3rd Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, an audio edition of The Garden of Eve, a signed poster for The Garden of Eve and a Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)