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Conception

by Kalisha Buckhanon
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Product Details

  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • Publishing date: 08/01/2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780312545147
  • ISBN: 0312545142

Synopsis

In the same vein as her critically acclaimed debut novel, Upstate, Kalisha Buckhanon again shares an emotionally beautiful story about today’s youth that magnifies the unforgettable power of hope and the human spirit.

Buckhanon takes us to Chicago, 1992, and into the life of fifteen-year-old Shivana Golding, who believes most Black women wind up the same: single and raising children alone, like her mother. Until the sudden visit of her charismatic and free-spirited Aunt Jewel, Shivana spends her days desperately struggling to understand life and confront the challenges she faces growing up in a tough environment. When she accidentally becomes pregnant by an older man and must decide what to do, she begins a journey toward adulthood with only a mysterious voice inside to guide her. Then, when she falls in love with Rasul, a teenager with problems of his own, together they fight to rise above their circumstances and move toward a more positive future.

Through a narrative that sweeps from slavery onward, Buckhanon unveils Shivana’s connection to a past filled with tragedy, courage, and wisdom.

Kalisha Buckhanon's first novel Upstate won an American Library Association Alex Award and was nominated for the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award in Debut Fiction.  Terry McMillan selected her to receive the first Terry McMillan Young Author Award in 2006. A recipient of a 2001 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship and an Andrew Mellon Fellow, Buckhanon frequently teaches writing and speaks throughout the country. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New School University in New York City, and both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. She was born in 1977 in Kankakee, Illinois.
A School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Teens

In the same vein as her critically acclaimed debut novel, Upstate, Kalisha Buckhanon again shares an emotionally beautiful story about today’s youth that magnifies the unforgettable power of hope and the human spirit.

Buckhanon takes us to Chicago, 1992, and into the life of fifteen-year-old Shivana Golding, who believes most Black women wind up the same: single and raising children alone, like her mother. Until the sudden visit of her charismatic and free-spirited Aunt Jewel, Shivana spends her days desperately struggling to understand life and confront the challenges she faces growing up in a tough environment. When she accidentally becomes pregnant by an older man and must decide what to do, she begins a journey toward adulthood with only a mysterious voice inside to guide her. Then, when she falls in love with Rasul, a teenager with problems of his own, together they fight to rise above their circumstances and move toward a more positive future.

Through a narrative that sweeps from slavery onward, Buckhanon unveils Shivana’s connection to a past filled with tragedy, courage, and wisdom.

"Conception is Buckhanon's second novel, a work of urban fiction that mixes the usual streetwise tales of woe with casual references to Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison and the occasional bit of French . . . The heroine is 15-year-old Shivana, who lives in a Chicago slum and believes that most black women stumble blindly into the same painful trap: meet some man, believe his sweet talk, bear his offspring, then watch him leave . . . Shivana's own mother has followed this scenario, ending up bitter and alone . . . Shivana, seeking love in all the wrong places, finds herself pregnant by the first older man who smiles her way. The question of the novel thus becomes whether she will decide to terminate the pregnancy or to keep the unborn child . . . [Conception is] the work of a gifted young novelist."?Kim McLarin, The Washington Post
"On the same day I began reading Kalisha Buckhanon's ambitious new novel, Conception, I just happened to receive a newsletter from a major African American literary Web site featuring its latest bestseller list. Among the top 10 works of fiction were three by the erotic writer Zane, plus books whose titles all included the words Sex, Whore, Hustler or Thug. That list, however unscientific it may be, perfectly delineates the continental divide between so-called street lit and works by more traditionally literary African American writers, not one of whom appears within shouting distance of the bestseller list. What's interesting to note is how young writers such as Buckhanon seem intent not on taking up positions along this divide but on straddling it. Conception is Buckhanon's second novel, a work of urban fiction that mixes the usual streetwise tales of woe with casual references to Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison and the occasional bit of French . . . The heroine is 15-year-old Shivana, who lives in a Chicago slum and believes that most black women stumble blindly into the same painful trap: meet some man, believe his sweet talk, bear his offspring, then watch him leave . . . Shivana's own mother has followed this scenario, ending up bitter and alone . . . Shivana, seeking love in all the wrong places, finds herself pregnant by the first older man who smiles her way. The question of the novel thus becomes whether she will decide to terminate the pregnancy or to keep the unborn child . . . It must be mentioned that part of Conception is narrated by Shivana's unborn child. That choice allows Buckhanon to tour African American history by having the fetus visit various potential black mothers before finally coming to rest in Shivana's womb. The book feels aimed at a high school crowd, and for those readers, the whirlwind tour through black history may be instructive, perhaps even illuminating . . . [Conception is] the work of a gifted young novelist struggling to weld together the various metals of her experience."?Kim McLarin, The Washington Post

?Readers . . . are richly rewarded.”?The Chicago Sun Times

"Much like her acclaimed debut novel, Upstate, Buckhanon is again at her best."?Mosaic Literary Magazine

?A poignant, heart-wrenching novel.”?Kirkus Reviews

?Heartfelt and affecting.”?Booklist

"Buckhanon’s second novel firmly establishes her as a timeless voice for a new generation. An authenticity of language and action permeates the novel. The realities of poor Chicago life and Shivana’s desperation to escape lead to a sad, seemingly predestined conclusion, yet do not detract from the underlying foundations of love and hope. Teens who like Toni Morrison’s work, Buckhanon’s Upstate, and other realistic novels will enjoy this one."?School Library Journal

"Abandoned by her father and having unfulfilling sex with the married man whose children she babysits, Shivana Golding, fifteen, already knew what it felt like to feel nothing. Living in subsidized housing on Chicago's South Side, Shivana is soon enough pregnant. She fears confessing to her mother, considers abortion and finds herself unexpectedly falling in love with a neighborhood boy who just might be her heart love?and also with her own unborn baby. The spirit of this unborn child is a character in its own right, telling a story that spans centuries and offers tragic glimpses into the truncated lives of black children. The fetus's wise . . . narration grounds Shivana's story within a sad legacy, through slavery, lynching and ongoing racism to a modern world where reproductive choice is a myth, virtually all children are unwanted, and The Cosby Show is the ultimate fairy tale."?Publishers Weekly

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  • One Word, WOW!
    From Amazon

    This book was and wasn't what I expected it to be (if that makes sense). I loved this book and couldn't put it down. The reason it doesn't have a five star rating from me is that at first it was a bit confusing. There is still one part I'm confused by but I can't get into it without giving an awesome part of this story away. I love Buckhanon's writing! It's beautiful and the kind you want to take your time with. It's not long winded descriptions which I absolutely can't stand, it's almost like poetry at some parts. I can't say enough good things about this book! Just go read it, you wont regret it!

  • A bit disappointed....
    From Amazon

    I am usually all for reading books by lesser known authors and when I picked up this book I honestly felt like it would be a keeper. Unfortunately, I feel that the plot of this story may have had a lot of potential but fell short and was a bit underdeveloped. It became uneasy to believe Shivana, the protagonist and the motives behind her actions. I dont think she fully realized the gravity of her pregnancy. Shivana's relationship with her mother and friend were also never fully explained. I ultimately fell in love with the spirit of her unborn child though. Buckhanon used some very brilliant language (very Toni Morrison) to describe the fetus stride however when it came to exposing Shivana to the reader I felt like the protoganists' ideas were trumped with choppy and unsophisticated language (very Zane like). Moreover, there is no real resolution to the story....or maybe it was there but without any real sense of closure or reasoning. Shivana's relationship with her mother, her baby daddy's wife....all remained unresolved. The ending seemed a bit overdramatic and forged. OMG, I was so loving the first half of this book but then it flopped, and I just hate that. If youre like me and like a good read please pass on this book.

  • A good read
    From Amazon

    If Shivana were real she and I would have been very close in age. In her own words and mind she seemed wise beyond her years with above average intelligence. Her actions were unlike anything I would expect from someone that smart. I enjoyed the characters and the secondary storyline. This was a good book but not nearly as great as 'Upstate'. I still look forward to more work by Buckhanon.

  • An Amazing Read...
    From Amazon

    I read and LOVED Ms. Buckhanon's first novel 'Upstate'. I've been looking forward to reading this book for sometime, but was a bit skeptical that I would enjoy this book as much as I did her first. Well, I certainly was not disappointed. Ms. Buckhanon is an amazing storyteller. It was near impossible to put this book down. The struggles of Shivana Montgomery and her unborn child (yes, even the unborn child has a story to tell) are heartbreaking, yet hopeful. You find yourself rooting for Shivana, wanting so bad to see her achieve her dream of a 'Cosby Show' kinda life, and rise above her tough South Side Chi way of life. As for the ending...very emotional, and not something I saw coming. I really don't want to give anything away, but, it was a memorable one. I find myself still thinking about it days after finishing the book. If you're at all interested in reading this, go for it. It's an extremely satisfying read...and when you've finished this one, go ahead and pick up her first novel. I absolutely look forward to future works from this super talented author.

  • My Perception
    From Amazon

    This was beautifully written but at times troubling to read. The author's voice seemed to echo through the pages and dominate the protagonist's journey. You have a 15 year-old who speaks to the reader with such wisdom and intellect coupled with ignorant dialogue and actions. It was too two-dimensional. This was a worthy soul-searching effort written uniquely with a disheartening deeper meaning, but didn't trump the author's first effort, Upstate in my opinion.

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