Books by Lori Aurelia Williams

Released: Sept. 28, 2010

From the first line, the eponymous narrator—affectionate, funny and smart—draws readers into her story with the same strong will she uses to persuade her longtime boyfriend, Brian, to tie the knot. Now that her best friend is married, plus-size Maxine, 17, longs for her own wedding and escape from the selfish mother who's always valued her boyfriend du jour higher than her daughter. Sights fixed on wedded bliss, headstrong Maxine ignores abundant warning signs that Brian is ambivalent, and the marriage quickly collapses. Instead, she's manipulated into parenting Demonee, Brian's troubled cousin, while struggling to finish school and heal her wounded heart. Set in the world of Williams's earlier fiction (When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune, 2000, etc.) the plot is overlong, repetitious and rambling, while the pivotal marriage is given puzzlingly few pages. However, Maxine, through sheer force of character, holds readers' interest. It's a pleasure watching her learn from experience and apply that earned wisdom, especially the dawning recognition that if Demonee has the right to be loved and accepted for who she is, so has Maxine herself. (Fiction. 14 & up)Read full book review >
BROKEN CHINA by Lori Aurelia Williams
Released: March 5, 2010

Only 14, China's two-year-old daughter is the center of her universe. It's hard to be a good mom, and yet China knows that she's learning what it takes. However, all the care in the world can't prevent Amina's tragic death due to an undiagnosed heart problem. Unwilling to attend the funeral, China insists on an elaborate and expensive coffin. Once she's committed to an impossible debt, she quits school to work at the counter of a raunchy strip club in her Houston neighborhood. It's no mystery where the plot is headed and incredibly obvious that all the things China tells herself only bring her closer to disaster. A big plus is the realistic rendering of the dialogue in vibrant language without resorting to incessant swearing, yet the heavy telegraphing by the author of the discoveries ahead may make some readers impatient with the slowness of stubborn China to realize the truths abundantly evident around her. Those with a taste for gleams of sunshine in their grit will find this just the ticket. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

This sequel to When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune (2000) stands firmly on its own merits. In the summer of Shayla's 13th birthday, she faces her painful relationship with her father, the nature of friendship, and her own developing identity. Through Shayla's eyes, readers watch her family and friends take on adventures in which they never leave their neighborhood but still solve mysteries and make discoveries about themselves and others. The reader is sucked into the lives of this family that nothing keeps down for long—not poverty, not personal betrayals, not their own frailties. Besides Shayla and her folks, Kambia Elaine is back, having loving parents now but still a victim, this time of a chain of cruel pranks. And Shayla reluctantly befriends Lemm, a boy with the gift of gab and a bag full of troubles, who makes Shayla's skin tingle in the weirdest way when their hands touch. In this character-driven book, there are occasional contrivances of plot and at least one big coincidence. And yes, the ending may be a little too happy to be totally believable. But these are minor faults in a wonderfully noteworthy effort. Characters are defined through descriptive language, pithy sayings, and artfully constructed dialog. The text is lushly descriptive, filled with eloquent, evocative similes and metaphors. Though many of the events in the book are serious, this is not a depressing read—there are touches of lightness and humor and an ending filled with hope. A fine second effort from a promising author. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >