Last spring, Carleen Brice’s debut novel, Orange Mint & Honey (which was optioned by the Lifetime Movie Network) instantly became a #1 Denver Post best-seller and Essence Magazine Recommended Read. Yet there was more. Later in 2008, this writer won the Breakout Author of the Year Award from the African American Literary Awards Show and in 2009 she received the First Novel Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Carleen is also a finalist for the 2009 Colorado Book Award in literary fiction. And, with such wonderful recognition for Orange Mint & Honey, one might wonder what this author will do for an encore? That answer can be found within the pages of Children of the Waters to be released tomorrow, June 23, 2009.
A visit to the writer’s Home page offers a quick glimpse of the book with this early praise:
“I was exhausted and singing the blues the hour I began Carleen Brice’s new novel, Children of the Waters. Five hours later, I’d finished this fresh, free-rein novel about mothers’ secrets and children’s sorrows and was shouting ‘Hurray!'”__ Jacquelyn Mitchard author, The Deep End of the Ocean
“In Children of the Waters, Carleen Brice manages to explore the difficult, messy and unpleasant details of life with both humor and wisdom. The parallel journeys of sisters, Trish and Billie, will resonate with everyone and anyone who has questioned their identity and place in this world. Once again, Carleen Brice has crafted a thoroughly enjoyable novel that gets at the heart of the human experience.”__ Lori Tharps, author of Kinky Gazpacho
“In Children of the Waters, Carleen Brice highlights the effects of America’s complicated relationship with race and identity on three generations of two families in a clear and insightful depiction of what it means to be American at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Brice knows how far we have come and how far there is left to go, and in Children of the Waters she deflty lays it all out for the reader to see.”__ Matthew Aaron Goodman, author of Hold Love Strong
“In Children of the Waters, Carleen Brice deftly explores issues of family, identity, and race with a wonderful abundance of humor, forgiveness, and grace. This moving story of two sisters separated by prejudice will open minds and touch hearts.”__ Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
Carleen’s focus is once again on family and she has an interesting backstory to Children of the Waters (actually her first novel but after 100 pages, she got stumped and put it away):
“The center of this novel is loosely based on a true story — one of my sisters-in-law is biracial and was given up for adoption while her birth sister, who is white, was kept by the family. When my sister-in-law told me about being found by her birth sister, I thought it was an amazing story. But I changed some things, of course, to make the story it’s own.”
And that backstory evolved into this Synopsis:
The author of the #1 Denver Post bestseller and Essence Book Club Pick Orange Mint and Honey explores the connection between love and race, and what it really means to be a family
Trish Taylor’s white ancestry never got in the way of her love for her black ex-husband, or their mixed race son, Will. But when Trish’s marriage ends, she returns to her family’s Denver, Colorado home to find a sense of identity and connect to her past.
What she finds there shocks her to the very core: her mother and newborn sister were not killed in a car crash as she was told. In fact, her baby sister, Billie Cousins, is now a grown woman; her grandparents had put her up for adoption, unwilling to raise the child of a black man. Billie, who had no idea she was adopted, wants nothing to do with Trish until a tragedy in Billie’s own family forces her to lean on her surprisingly supportive and sympathetic sister. Together they unravel age-old layers of secrets and resentments and navigate a path toward love, healing, and true reconciliation.
If you have yet to read Orange Mint & Honey, please see the presentation post, A Meme of Orange Mint & Honey, to better understand what a smart, refreshing and realistic storyteller Carleen Brice truly is. In fact she’s also provided parts of Children of the Waters first three chapters in this Excerpt
Even in those early pages, do you hear the author’s strong voice on the importance of family and the values of family and friendship and belonging? Carleen admits that family has always been the core of her life — thanks to her grandparents — and she’s passing the message on to her readers. However it’s possible that this writer is offering something more priceless. Last August 7, 2008, Carleen posted Am I the Obama of Fiction? by initially noting:
“I’ve always been confused about what a writing voice is. Until now. Lori Tharp (Kinky Gazpacho) posted a kind review of Orange Mint and Honey, and is one of the umpteen people who’ve noted that my characters could have been any race. I’ve heard very often that the story is “‘universal.'”
“At first, I was perplexed by these type of responses. Why was it worth noting that a book with black characters was universal? Wasn’t that a given? Then, I was a little angry and I wondered if racism didn’t play a part. But then black readers started to tell me the same thing. So I went back to perplexed. I still don’t know why this should be deemed so unusual. Do you think it is?
“This is my world view. This is my life. There are all different kinds of people in it and while I definitely acknowledge and honor differences between my African American, Latino, & white family members and friends, mostly we’re pretty much alike. Finally, coming from Flyover Country pays off! Because that is how my voice was formed. In Omaha, I lived on the same block with and went to school with white, Native American, Hispanic, Asian and black kids. My family has every kind of color in it.”
And this is how Carleen Brice, through her universal voice, has told a tale of living in today’s America — entitled Children of the Waters. TRUST: You will be entertained and enlightened, enjoying every moment spent in the company of her storytelling!