Yesterday we held the book launch for Bright Blue Sky and Gray Silence at the High School of Fashion Industries. Over 150 students, their friends and family members, and teachers came out in support of the newly published authors. The launch party was the culmination of an eight week book project in partnership with 10th and 11th grade students at the High School of Fashion Industries. Over those eight weeks, students read about, thought about, and wrote about the power of place and space in shaping identity. Bright Blue Sky and Gray Silence contains the personal narratives that each student wrote and edited over the course of the project.
The launch party began with the student editorial board—responsible for editing, naming, and choosing the order of the narratives—talking about the pieces in the book and their process for arriving at the finished product. They were followed by Sheri Booker, author of “Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home,” who spoke to the students about the importance of continuing to write and read from her foreword to Bright Blue Sky and Gray Silence.
Five young writers followed Sheri Booker and read from their own essays. Their stories covered diverse topics: a girl makes a surprise visit to see her sick mother in New Orleans; the mixture of beauty and banality on a family road trip across the country; a teenager tries to find her own space in a shared bed with five siblings; how a bedroom allows a teenager to have an identity that is hers alone. In one story, “Sol,” eleventh grader Natalie H. remembers leaving the country to visit her grandmother when she was younger:
“I remember the trips to the beach. I remember the blue skies. I remember the cerulean hues, the glimmering blues of the water. I remember the water, a water so clear, so captivating. I remember the water, a water so reflective of its country’s beauty. I remember.”
We are so proud of all the students who participated in this project and became published authors. You can read more about the book at the Bright Blue Sky and Gray Silence website, which the students created with the help of a web developer and graphic designer.
Lastly, we want to extend a special thank you to Ms. Eisenberg and her 10th and 11th grade students who worked so hard to make this beautiful book. We also want to thank AT&T and Amazon Literary Partners for helping to make this project a reality.