I went to elementary school, middle school, and high school in Hazelwood, Missouri. In fact, "Hazelton" where THE ART OF LAINEY is set, is actually a fictionalized meld of Hazelwood and nearby Bridgeton. Just down the road is Ferguson, another suburb of St. Louis that's gotten a lot media attention lately. I played against the Ferguson high schools in soccer and tennis and had plenty of friends who lived there. The reality is not exactly what you're seeing in the news.
It's been hard for me to see a place so close to where I grew up repeatedly misrepresented and victimized, so I recently got in contact with prominent St. Louis indie, Left Bank Books, to see if there was anything bookish I could do for the community when I go back to St. Louis later this month. The YA coordinator told me they were doing an Angel Tree Book Drive for Airport Elementary, one of the Ferguson-Florissant schools.
For many of these kids, books are a luxury their families can't afford. Please consider donating a book to one of the students this holiday season. Each of the school's teachers has selected a story he or she feels would benefit the classroom and there are some amazing titles on the list--entertaining and meaningful stories that might turn a kid onto reading at a really young age. Left Bank has set up their book drive page so that all you have to do is select a classroom and add that book to your shopping cart. Once you check out, the book will automatically be pulled from stock and added to the fundraiser. Click here to go the the Left Bank Books Angel Tree Book Drive donation page.
If you'd like to help out but can't purchase a book, the Left Bank Books Foundation accepts donations of any amount and works to spread and celebrate the love of books all around the St. Louis area. Tweets and posts about the book drive are also greatly appreciated :)
Thanks for spreading the bookish love this holiday season <3