A.J. Verdelle was born Washington, D.C. in 1960. She is the recipient of Whiting Writers Award and the Bunting Fellowship from Radcliffe College. She has taught creative writing at Princeton University. Her first novel, The Good Negress, won the L.A. Times Book Prize and the Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the International Impac Literary Award. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and has an MFA from Bard College.
The year is 1963 and young Denise Palms has rejoined her family in Detroit where she must work to make a place for herself and prepare for the arrival of her mother’s new baby. The baby will mean the end of Denise’s afterschool lessons with a stern teacher who insists that Denise learn to speak “proper” English to make herself heard. Verdelle’s intuition and ear allow her to dramatize precise moments of Denise’s self-recognition and, in the process, offer an inside look at a maturing intelligence.