Author of the award-winning book Upstate Kalisha Buckhanon is back with the release of her second novel Conception winner of the Terry McMillan Young Author Award.Conception tells the story of 15-year-old Shivana, a teenager growing up surrounded by poverty, and depression on the South Side of Chicago in the early 90s. Like so many young women in Shivana’s world, she is growing up without a father, never been past the city limits, and doesn’t see a way out of the hood.
Shivana feels oppressed by her mother, ignored by her teachers and ostracized by her peers. She’s not light-skinned enough, pretty enough, and doesn’t have the right clothes to stand out in school. To make matters worse, Shivana discovers that she is pregnant by the married man that she babysits for, and her best and only friend Nakeesha won’t speak to her after an altercation.
The only solace in Shivana’s life is her Aunt Jewel, her mother’s vibrant and bubbly younger sister who brings laughter into a tense household, and Rasul, a teenage boy who lives downstairs, who like her, feels out of place in his world.
Shivana’s story is one worth reading. It is a life that is often ignored by most authors. However, Buckhanon eloquently tells her story. Her words are open, honest, and poetic.
Conception is unique because it tells two stories. Not only do we see life from Shivana’s point of view, but we also hear the voice of the soul within the life inside of her. It is a soul that has transcended through several generations of tragedy hoping to be born one day.
Although Conception is heart-breaking, it still offers a story of hope- the hope of a life with choices and the opportunity to rise above every situation. Shivana realizes that there are other places outside of her world and she has the power to exist in them.