Being Amani - Publication Day!!!
In celebration of my upcoming publication day Thursday 20th May 2021. I am answering 7 questions about Being Amani. If you would like more detailed answers to these questions check out my video where I elaborate a little more.
Being Amani is available from WHS Smith, Waterstones, Amazon and the Hashtag Blak website.
1. Why does Amani’s mum force her to build a relationship with her dad after what she’s been though?
Amani’s mum is struggling with her own mental health for a number of reasons, she finds herself in a position where she reaches rock bottom and doesn’t think that she should be alive, let alone looking after Amani. She doesn’t force Amani to have a relationship with her dad but more gives her an option as she knows that if she is unable to parent Amani on her own, she will need someone. Amani’s mum can see that Levi has changed and he is more like the Levi that she knew for the majority of their relationship. Despite what has happened she still trusts that he wouldn’t harm Amani and therefore gives Amani a choice rather than an answer. It is also important to note at this point that this is the reality for a lot of ethnic minority families living in the UK, they try not to cut ties with family too quickly as their communities and support networks can be fragile and small, so a lot of serious issues often getting dismissed and a lot is often left unsaid.
2. Why does Amani forgive her dad?
At no point does Amani forgive her dad, she just gets to know the new him better. Amani is lonely and doesn’t know who to turn to for support with her anxiety, her relationships or her mum’s health. As she grows throughout the book, she begins to realise that she needs someone. She is a young adult and wants to return to the familiar comforts of her dad, she battles with the flashbacks and this prevents her from forgiving and forgetting. So, she stays close and watches from the side lines to suss out who her dad really is. She doesn’t forgive him, that would take a lot longer than a year and also may never fully happen. The whole situation is down to interpretation based on an individual readers experiences, thoughts, beliefs, how they read it etc, but at no point does Amani explicitly forgive her dad for the past and 'move on'.
3. Who do you think will really relate to what Amani is experiencing in the book?
I think a range of people can relate to Amani’s story. I think anyone that has ever suffered with acute or severe anxiety will be able to relate to Amani’s story. She shows signs of suffering throughout from her indecisiveness to her full – blown panic attacks. I think anyone who has ever been in a situation where their primary caretakers need support from them will be able to relate to Amani’s story. Very quickly Amani has to step – up and support her mum as she battles with her demons. I think anyone who has witnessed someone that they love change will be able to relate to what Amani is going through when she has to see both her mum and her dad change over time. She continues to try and smile through and do normal teen things while battling harrowing memories and living inside her own head.
4. How do you want the book to be received your target audience?
Ideally, I would like people to recognise that this is Amani’s story, this not a guidebook on how to deal with everything that Amani goes through. I wouldn’t use a fictional book to advise young adults on such serious topics. I wrote this book for young adults to enjoy and recognise that not all young Black teens are involved in drugs and get pregnant young or roam the streets with guns and knives as other fictional books would have us believe. I wrote this book to remind young Black girls that I see them and I hear them. Although they may be labelled as rude, intimidating and aggressive, I completely understand that they are none of those things I completely understand that most are just dealing with a lot and have nobody to turn to and so they paint a smile on their faces and get on with it.
I also wrote this book to remind all girls that things may seem tough when you fall out with your friends or you can’t find the right guy or you home situation isn’t ideal but you have to trust yourself, find happiness in your situation and grow because nobody is going to hand you that happiness on a plate.
5. Why is there a trigger warning on the front cover?
Although Amani’s story is fictional we still recognise that it covers a lot of issues that young adults and teens may find triggering such as: Physical and emotional abuse (domestic abuse) of a mother and child, Parental mental health, Divorce and separation, Suicide attempt, Teenage carer, Racism, Sexual assault, Gaslighting, Alcohol abuse, Depression, Panic attacks, PTSD, Toxic teenage relationship and the Sexual objectification of a Black teenage girl therefore a trigger warning was very necessary to allow those picking up a copy to prepare themselves before opening the book.
6. What would your advice be to young adults in similar situations?
I can only give advice from the perspective a Black British girl living in the North. I can only base my advice on my own lived experiences and the advice or stories of those around me but I would say. Talk to someone, a friend, a family member, a professional. Open up and take advice on board. Don’t shut people out when they are trying to help you and remember that, like Amani, you can make it through all of what you are going through.
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