Author Kelly J Morgan has entered the literary world with a novel that will trigger conversations, debates, and intellectual observations for years to come. You Sound White is the story of protagonist Tallulah and a cast of young aspiring African-American women five years post-college. Her writing career has not taken off as she has planned and she is working three jobs to makes ends meet. She has grown up in a world that judges her on her skin color and how she talks. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she befriends a homeless woman named Lily. Tallulah realizes that there is a story there and as Lily’s past materializes, her own life is illuminated and dissected in ways she could have never imagined. You Sound White removes the urban veil away from the most radiant character interactions you have ever read with poignant dialogue that rides along a pragmatic plot that will have you hanging on each and every chapter. Author Kelly Morgan writes like a seasoned veteran and has elevated the expectations of debut works. She is here to slay.
Targeted Age Group:: 18
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Growing up in an all-white neighborhood, I was ridiculed for how I talked. People would judge me or make assumptions, purely based on skin color.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters are a combination of people I grew up with, went to school with, or even worked with. They are all fictional but there is a little bit of truth to each character.
The sun beamed into the small kitchen window of Tallulah’s 2nd-floor apartment as the open window allowed the morning breeze to flow in. The apartment was small, but she liked to use the term “cozy” whenever her parents mentioned its size. The two-story, the grayish building was an old warehouse that had been converted into four apartments about fifteen years ago. The windows faced east, so there was always plenty of sunlight. Tallulah had found the apartment soon after she graduated college. The rent was cheap, and the neighborhood – though not the nicest in the city – was pretty safe.
Tallulah was a pretty girl. When she was in college, she was often referred to as “thick”. Her skin was the color of brown sugar, and her brown eyes and thick lips accented her high cheekbones. She’d started growing dreadlocks when she turned 15; one night while watching TV, she saw a woman with beautiful, long dreadlocks and decided right then and there she wanted the same for herself. Her mother thought she was crazy, but her grandmother liked the idea and helped her figure out how to grow and maintain her locks. Once she’d transformed her hair into twist locs, there was no turning back.
Tallulah was of slightly above average height, standing about 5’7”. She was happy she was tall because it evened out her thick thighs and long torso. Her butt was round and full and poked out when she walked. When she was younger, she’d tried to cover it up or hide it, sometimes tying a sweater or hoodie around her waist to conceal it.
Her mother always told her she was pretty, but it’s hard to think you’re pretty when everything around you says skinny, blonde, blue eyes and milky white skin is pretty. Some of the white girls at her high school would make fun of her and call her “big lips” or “bubble butt”. It wasn’t until she got to college that she realized men like women with big, round asses, thick lips, and soft but firm thighs.
When Tallulah first moved into her apartment, the walls were white. The landlord gave her permission to paint them a soft earth tone blue, which was perfect because that was the only paint on sale. She purchased all her furniture second hand and found her small kitchen set at a flea market. Chloe, one of her best friends, had mentioned her grandmother had the exact same set in her house. The two chairs were metal, painted yellow. The table was also metal and covered in big yellow painted flowers.
Tallulah had managed to find some old pictures at a thrift store. Because her funds were limited, she went with the ocean beach setting and found another picture of a little Black girl running through a field. Chloe had donated the small sofa for her living room; it was just the right size for the space. Meanwhile, her downstairs neighbor, Mrs. Herrera, gave her a small coffee table.
The only thing Tallulah moved in with was her bedroom set, a graduation present from her parents. Her queen-sized bed barely fit the bedroom, but it did allow enough room for a small dresser. The bathroom was equally small, with only enough room for a shower, sink, toilet, and small wall cabinet.
Tallulah sat in her living room, typing on her laptop. Scattered around her were samples of her past and recent articles, poems, and unfinished short stories. She stopped typing long enough to glance at a piece of paper that read “Notice of rent increase”. She frowned as she stared at the notice; news of the increase had thrust her into panic mode, and she immediately started looking for additional work. She’d been applying for several different writing positions all morning, sending writing samples to editors of magazines and newspapers, as well as blogs and various online publications.
Tallulah reached for the coffee cup sitting on the small coffee table directly in front her, took a long sip, then set the ceramic cup back down on the table. Just as she placed it down, her email notification chimed; it was a reply to a job she’d applied to. She felt a slight quiver in her stomach as she guided her cursor and clicked on the email, and then suddenly frowned.
“Fuck!” she said out loud. She then stood up and set down the laptop. “If I get one more rejection, I’m gonna kill myself!” she yelled. Her voice echoed throughout the apartment as she let out a huff and said, “Rejection is not cool.”
She began to pace around the apartment, stopping in front of two pictures sitting on the kitchen window sill. The first one was in a silver metal frame, the second in a brown wooden frame. She picked up the picture in the metal frame, looked at it, and smiled; it was of her and her girls, Chloe and Zoe. They were smiling, holding up their diplomas, having just graduated college. She set down the first picture and picked up the second one. In it was Michael, her best friend from high school, and her parents. Tallulah stood in the middle of the trio, smiling widely. She and Michael had just graduated high school and were holding up their diplomas.
She set the second picture back in its place and sighed. Everyone in her life was doing what they’d set out to do. Zoe and Chloe had their careers on an upward trajectory, and Michael had started his own paper.
She stared at both pictures a moment longer, then said, “Y’all are doing great. Me…not so much.”
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