“…the dialogue is fast and lively, and Sandrine’s first-person narrative delivers immediate, searing drama.”—Booklist
“[An] aching debut…[with] echoes of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings…” —Publisher’s Weekly
“Reading Dedra Johnson’s Sandrine’s Letter to Tomorrow, I was fully in the presence of the mind, heart, and soul of a richly rendered, fascinating fictional character. I knew I was also in the presence of the brilliant voice and sensibility of a major new American writer. This is an important novel by a true artist.”—Robert Olen Butler
“Dedra Johnson has caught something wonderful in Sandrine’s Letter to Tomorrow. She writes brilliantly about childhood, New Orleans, the intricacies of a vexed family life. Sandrine is a remarkable debut novel that will catch your heart.”—Frederick Barthelme
Despite being a straight-A student and voracious reader, nine-year old Sandrine Miller is treated like a servant by her mother, who forces Sandrine to clean house, do chores and take care of her younger half sister, Yolanda. On top of the despair of her life at home, Sandrine must confront up against the harshness of life in mid-1970s New Orleans, where older men prey on young girls and she is ostracized because she is a light-skinned black girl. The only refuge against her bleak world is spending summers with her beloved grandmother, Mamalita. After Mamalita’s death, Sandrine realizes that she must escape from her mother, from New Orleans, from everything she has ever known, if she is to have any kind of future. In the tradition of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Sandrine’s Letter to Tomorrow is a brilliant and uplifting debut from an important new voice in African-American fiction.
A native and current resident of New Orleans, Dedra Johnson received her MFA from the University of Florida, where she was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Sandrine’s Letter to Tomorrow was a finalist for the 2006 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Award.