Sherri Winston

sherri-winston-photoA lifestyle columnist with The Sun-Sentinel in Florida, young adult author Sherri Winston has made writing her career.  She is familiar with a life defined by deadlines, rewrites, and feedback from her editor and readers.  She is also not afraid to tackle controversial issues within her writing, be it an analysis on the lack of media coverage when African American women are missing, or shine the spotlight on a grieving mother helping others.  Reading Winston’s columns shows me that she respects the issues and people that she writes about and she wants to give a voice to those whose stories are under represented in our news coverage and our literature.

Along with M.E. Kerr, Rita Williams-Garcia, Naomi Shihab Nye, Winston was a contributing author to Face Relations,41dtctm6qtl_sl500_ an anthology edited by Marilyn Singer that addresses racial issues and race identity across America.  “Snow” is the story of a high school journalist who exposes tensions between Haitians and African Americans in her school.

In a column penned in 2001, Winston talks about her own literary childhood where she read some of the great young adult classics, including Sounder and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  But like many African American readers, she wanted to see herself reflected in the stories she read.   She had a desire to read regular stories, not just historical fiction, that contained characters who liked the same music as her, worried about boys and dating, school, and parents.

I don’t know Sherri personally, but reading that article makes me think that she was itching to write tales for teens then.  I like to think that soon after writing that article, she began to start pecking at the keys to write her first young adult novel, Acting, which was published in 2004.

36410749I checked out a copy of The Kayla Chronicles a year ago from my local library after hearing so much buzz about the book in our nominations for the first 28 Days Later.  I was sold on Kayla’s story for several reasons.  Because of a strong relationship with her grandmother, Kayla is empowered and has a strong feminist identity.  Kayla Dean is mission minded and determined to make a difference in life like her beloved grandmother.   But as we read on, we discover that Kayla is caught in the middle.  She doesn’t feel like she belongs in her own family, and especially doesn’t feel like she and her father even like each other.  As Kayla’s chronicle transpires, Kayla learns more about who she is, what she believes in, and how to accept others for who they are.

Winston has written a book that would be a welcome addition on reading lists for teenage girls across the country.  Through an engaging story, she teaches readers about recognizing their self-identity and standing up for their beliefs.

Bibliography
Acting:  A Novel (2004)
The Kayla Chronicles (2008)

kayla

The Buzz on The Kayla Chronicles
“After finishing The Kayla Chronicles . . . , I came to the conclusion that I need to read more young adult novels featuring non-Caucasian protagonists. It’s not something I’d given much thought to previously, but I now realize my reading habits have been lacking. . . What I enjoyed most was how becoming a Lady Lion challenged Kayla’s views on feminism. . . Told in a voice with the right amount of attitude and sass, this was a nice way to spend a cold, winter afternoon.” ~ Jia, Dear Author

“It is wonderful to read in a young adult novel aimed towards girls about a respect for the women who have come before and how their accomplishments helped pave the way for the life they are able to live now. Since Kayla is African American, these memories take on an even more poignant bent as she deals with the unspoken taint of racism in the world around her. She manages to embrace all the sides of herself as a young woman and give others the same benefit of the doubt, all the while proving to herself and to her unbelieving father that the strength inside her suits her to a tee. Such journeys of personal discovery, peppered with a healthy dose of women’s history, make THE KAYLA CHRONICLES a special and fascinating book . . . Congratulations to Sherri Winston for proving that “chick lit” can be fun, intellectually satisfying and emotionally relevant, all at the same time. ~ Jana Siciliano, Teen Reads

“Narrated with sharp language and just the right amount of attitude, The Kayla Chronicles is the story of a girl’s struggle for self-identity despite pressure from family, friends and her own conscience. Kayla’s story is snappy, fun and inspiring, sure to appeal to anyone who’s every questioned who they really are.” ~ Young Adult ARCs

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12 Responses to Sherri Winston

  1. susan says:

    The Kayla Chronicles are on our wish list. Thanks for the interview.

  2. carlasarratt says:

    Susan, I think you and your patrons will enjoy The Kayla Chronicles. It’s a story that encourages empowerment, plus I love her use of quotes from famous women!

    Thanks for supporting The Brown Bookshelf.

  3. Tanita says:

    I’ve seen — and like — Face Relations and would really like to read more of this author. Thanks for including links to her articles as well. I’m very much impressed with her outspokenness.

  4. cloudscome says:

    I am going to have to look for the Kayla Chronicles as Face Relations. Thanks for featuring Sherri Winston.

  5. susan says:

    Carla,
    I’ve been collecting and sharing quotes for years. I have to push this up on my list. And her candor, kudos. We need more writers speaking as frankly as she does. Thanks. I’m requesting my library buy it as well. I’ve actually been asked for a list of recommendations. I need to put that together. I will also see if they have your book as well.

    Do you have contact info for Ms. Winston. I briefly searched but didn’t find anything. Well, I have trouble with MySpace. I’ll try that at the library.

  6. kayla says:

    hey jus wanted ta say mi name is KAYLA i thoight it was kool im going to find this book im 15 by the way

  7. MikeAmateur says:

    actually your blog is one of those i will bother to revisit. most i saw today are full of useless informations and advertising. thank you for providing some real content to the world :)

  8. Rasheedah says:

    My grandaughter read President of the Whole 5th Grade and could not put it down. A great book for an 11 year old. We are looking forward to you coming back to your hometown to attend a book signing at the local library. Thank you for sharing your insight and writing skills with a community that appreciates your success.

  9. e alexis says:

    My 10 yr. old daughter has started reading President of the Whole 5th Grade Class, and this is the first time that I had to tell her that it was time to put the book down because it was getting too late. I used to read Sherri’s articles all the time in the Sun-Sentinal and was excited once I found out she was the author of this book. Thank you Sherri for sharing your gift with my daughter and I.

  10. dded says:

    can you write a part 2 to president of the whole 5th grade please im in 5th grade and thats a really good book

  11. jennifer ellis says:

    My two fifth grade reading classes just finished reading The President of the Whole Fifth Grade today! They absolutely LOVED it! They didn’t want to put it down each day – they kept begging to keep reading and not leave class! We are very close to where we believe you live (in Kissimmee) and would to contact you about a visit. What is the best way to get contact with you?

  12. [...] there, Sherri Winston, author of THE PRESIDENT OF THE WHOLE 5TH GRADE, showed up next. My boys loved her book (and so do [...]

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