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A Wish After Midnight Paperback – 16 Feb 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (16 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982555059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982555057
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,920,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Zetta Elliott earned her PhD in American Studies from NYU. Her poetry has been published in the Cave Canem anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. Her novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto's Black Storytellers, and her essays have appeared in The Black Arts Quarterly, thirdspace, WarpLand and Rain and Thunder. She won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books' New Voices Contest, and her picture book, Bird, was published in October 2008. Her first play, Nothing but a Woman, was a finalist in the Chicago Dramatists' Many Voices Project (2006). Her fourth full-length play, Connor's Boy, was staged in January 2008 as part of two new play festivals: in Cleveland, OH as part of Karamu House's R. Joyce Whitley Festival of New Plays ARENAFEST, and in New York City as part of Maieutic Theatre Works' Newborn Festival. Her one-act play, girl/power, was staged as part of New Perspectives Theater's NYC festival of women's work, GIRLPOWER, in August 2008. Her self-published young adult novel, A Wish After Midnight, was re-released by AmazonEncore in February 2010. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

Product Description

About the Author

Zetta Elliott was born and raised outside of Toronto, Canada but has lived and taught in Brooklyn for over 10 years. An educator and a writer, Elliott has published numerous works of poetry, plays, essays, and children's books, including Bird, her critically acclaimed picture book which was released in 2008. Elliott also originally released A Wish after Midnight in 2008, in response to a need for more books that spoke to the varied roots and realities of children in urban schools. She is currently working on a sequel to A Wish after Midnight.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By elmsyrup on 2 May 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Zetta Elliott's tale of an American teenager who time-travels back to 19th century Brooklyn, when black people were still slaves, is emotionally affecting and educational. The author sets out the difficulties in Genna's two lives quite well, and the different pressures black people found themselves under then and now. I do find Genna's motivations and feelings to be sometimes oblique, but her observations of the world around her are sharp and I learnt a lot about that period in history, which appeared to be well researched.

The story itself has weaknesses in that the sci-fi aspect is not very well done. There is merely a vague explanation of how the time travel happens, and no mention of whether Genna has gone into someone else's body, or whether she has just materialised out of thin air in her own body- and modern clothes?- in 1863. Also she seems to accept her time-travel without much confusion or question. I would have liked there to have been some focus on whether she can change history by her actions, whether she can use her modern knowledge to help her, and so on. Really the story might as well not have had any time travel aspect at all, because it was used as a deus ex machina and nothing more. Perhaps the author felt that her target audience would not want to read a book about the American civil war without giving them a modern cipher to act as an entry point.

There were quite a lot of typos which did distract me. I wouldn't normally mention it when reviewing a proof copy, but this book has already been published once, so they really should have been ironed out by this point. But overall I would recommend this book for teenagers because it is touching and informative, and raises a lot of issues (you can tell it was written by a teacher to facilitate classroom discussion). It's not a masterpiece but it's readable and fulfils a useful purpose.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Walker VINE VOICE on 18 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a white, middle class, English male and have very little knowledge of American, poor and black communities, so this novel came as an eye-opener for me.
The autor writes convincingly on her subject and the characters are well drawn.
The main character, Jenna, is somehow transported back in time from present day Brooklyn to the year 1863, just after slavery was abolished. Nonetheless, racism is rife and she finds life difficult in the extreme.
Yes, the plot's far-fetched, but as a device to compare the way black people are treated today with a century and a half ago it works well. It's a thought provoking novel, and I recommend it highly.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 26 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
There are few speculative fiction works that have a person of color as their central character, possibly the result of the fact that the great majority of sf writers are white. This is a very nice exception to this general picture.

Genna is a modern-day 15 year old living in the slums of New York. She's intelligent, ambitious, determined to go to college and leave the slums behind, and works hard at making that plan come true. But she's also shy, has typical teenage concerns about her looks and whether she can attract a boy who can understand her, and has a rather dysfunctional family whom she feels obligated to help. She also has real trouble understanding those people for whom `black' is synonymous with `trash', and chafes under the unwritten rules of our society that say that blacks can go this far, and no further, and are not admissible to the upper ranks of society.

All this is presented in the early sections of this book, and forms a very good character study, along with a well-painted picture of just what life is really like in the ghetto. But then she is magically transported back to the New York of 1863, where she is taken for a runaway slave, and where every aspect of this society places her not just at the bottom of the heap, but buried under a mountain of class and permissible action restrictions, where racism is not a dirty word, but the accepted norm of the day, except for a very few who are fighting to change that status quo. Genna's adaptation to this new world is adroitly done, though I did feel in spots that she, due to her modern-day perspective and attitudes, would have been more prone to make unacceptable mistakes in actions and words that would have netted her even more punishment than what is actually shown.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book stars Genna, who is a fairly ordinary teenager. A bit too clever to be popular with her classmates; a bit shy with boys; family problems at home - there are plenty of characters like this in young adult literature, and Genna is well portrayed by Elliott and her "voice" feels very natural on the page.

After a particularly bad row with her mother, Genna runs to a local gardens to cool down. Somehow (exactly HOW is not explained in the book), Genna is magically transported to Brooklyn of 1863. Here she is taken for a runaway slave and savagely beaten; she is lucky to be rescued by some free blacks, and eventually goes to work for a white Doctor and his wife.

The rest of the book explores how Genna reacts to being bullied by whites generally and patronised by the doctor (who is otherwise kind to her) both on the count of her race and her sex. Rather unbelievably, her boyfriend from modern day Brooklyn, Judah, has also been magically transported to the same time; this provides the author with an opportunity to present some different experiences of blacks in 1863, and present Genna with some interesting dilemmas in terms of acceptable behaviour in 1863 vs Judah's 21stC expectations.

This book is an historical study text, written by Elliott to catch the interest of (possibly disaffected) black and mixed-race urban teenagers. And I must say it does an excellent job of presenting facts about the American Civil war and early emergence of black rights in an entertaining way. There is also a nod to the problems of poor white Irish immigrants, and Elliott does a nice job of portraying the violence that flares up between this group and free blacks in a non-judgemental way.
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