Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Linda Williams Jackson

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as thirty-nine authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Linda Williams Jackson

Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta in the teeny-tiny town of Rosedale, Linda Williams Jackson likes to spin stories about everyday people in small-town settings. Though she has lived in a few other states (Alabama, Missouri, and Kansas), Linda currently makes her home in a not-so-small city in Mississippi with her husband and three children.

While a degree in Math and Computer Science from the University of Alabama allowed her to enjoy careers in Information Technology, Linda now prefers manipulating words rather than numbers and symbols. Besides her forthcoming debut middle grade novel Midnight Without A Moon from HMH Books for Young Readers (January 3, 2017), Linda is published in multiple Chicken Soup For The Soul titles and has written reading assessment passages for various educational publishers.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterGoodreads

Imagine, if you will, an impoverished little Black girl growing up among the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta during the 70’s. Can you see her out in the grass-bare yard playing Hide-the-Switch and Hide-and-Seek? Can you see her and her four siblings, and the myriad of cousins who have come to visit, zip through the yard and in and out of the five-room sharecropper’s shack to hide either a switch or themselves? Can you see them lined up in a row to play a game of Mother-May-I, or — if the leader is a boy — Captain-May-I? Can you see them — when it’s too hot to play outside — relaxing on the floor before the black-and-white television set, watching the outrageous antics of Bozo the Clown or perhaps Scooby-Doo? This, my friends, was entertainment for that little girl growing up among the dirt clods of the Mississippi Delta.

But the little girl had a secret.

Come closer, and I’ll share it with you.

The little girl didn’t like playing with other children. What she really wanted to do was read books. But there was a problem.

She had no books.

Zip. Nada. None.

The only time this little girl had a chance to read was in school. And library time was only once a week. And the only books in her school’s library were picture books. At least, that’s all she remembers.

Well, why didn’t her mother just take her to the public library?

One, she lived out in the country. Two, her mother couldn’t drive. Three, they owned no car. Four, I’m not sure she even knew where the town’s library was located.

So by the time this little girl turned twelve and entered the seventh grade, she had never EVER read a book that wasn’t illustrated. Upon entering the library of her junior high school, she was shocked to find the shelves lined with thick books where the only illustration was on the cover. No longer did she have the option of checking out her beloved illustrated books.

So while her friends pulled from the shelves Little House On The Prairie books and Dear, God, It’s Me Margaret, this little girl hesitated before the spines of those books and wondered whether she would be able to “picture” the story without the help of illustrations.

Then one day she spotted a title that had a nice ring to it. What she saw sticking out from among the other spines on the shelf were the words: The Soul Brothers and Sister (Since the barcode covered part of the title, the little girl thought the title was The Soul Brothers and Sisters.)

Wait…thought the little girl. Soul Brothers and Sisters. Why, that sounds like something I can picture in my mind.

The little girl had been, after all, watching Soul Train every Saturday afternoon, so she did, in fact, know all about soul brothers and sisters. With delight, she pulled the book off the shelf. Then, she got an even bigger surprise. The actual title was: The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou. And much to her surprise, children graced the cover of the book — four boys and a girl — a brown girl like herself!

The girl opened the book and began to read. And right away she was able to picture the scene in her mind! Why? Because the characters were like her! They were brown children who faced some of the same struggles that she did, except they lived in the city while she lived in the country. But they talked the way she talked. They liked the music that she liked. They ate the same kinds of foods that she ate. The little girl was beside herself as she devoured this book — her first book without pictures — her first novel—The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou.

Thanks to Louretta Hawkins — the “Lou” in The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou — the little girl fell in love with books and became a lifelong reader. She eventually became a writer, too. But that’s another story for another day.

Title Midnight Without A Moon
Author Linda Williams Jackson
Pages 320 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre & Keywords Historical Fiction
To Be Published January 3, 2017 by HMH Books For Young Readers
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. But for now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation. 

Then, one town over, an African American boy, Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. When Till’s murderers are unjustly acquitted, Rose realizes that the South needs a change…and that she should be part of the movement.  

Linda Jackson’s moving debut, which Sharon Flake deems “a magnificent piece of writing,” seamlessly blends a fictional portrait of an African American family and factual events from a famous trial that provoked change in race relations in the United States. This powerful middle grade debut is perfect for fans of Brown Girl Dreaming and The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

4 Responses

  1. I’m so glad 12-year-old Linda Jackson found the book that changed her life forever. Now Linda’s books will change the lives of countless other kids.

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Hi! I’m Jen! I’m a thirty-something introvert who loves nothing more than the cozy comfort of home and snuggling my two rescue cats, Pepper and Pancakes. I also enjoy running, jigsaw puzzles, baking and everything Disney. Few things bring me more joy than helping a reader find the right book for them!