To: The Women's National Book Association/LA Chapter
and the Judy Lopez Memorial Foundation
I was so honored to learn that The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had had been selected as one of the Judy Lopez Memorial Award Honor Books for 2010. 1 wish I could be with you tonight, but since I can't, I wanted to tell you a little about how this book came about.
The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had was inspired by my grandfather's life. It's not a true story, but many of the characters were based on real people and some of the events in the book actually happened. This may lead you to believe that I was close to my grandfather growing up, but in fact, I didn't know him well. My grandfather lived far away when I was a child, but in the 1970s, he wrote down his memories of life growing up in Alabama. For a long time I put off reading his memoirs, assuming that because my grandfather spent his childhood in the South, he was racist. Boy was I wrong!
It was only after his death that I finally read what he had written. I was amazed to discover my grandfather had had black friends. He had his hair cut by the town's black barber and he went fishing with the barber's son. Racial tensions certainly existed in his small town, but the relationships weren't as clear-cut as I had assumed.
In addition, my grandfather described a freedom to go wherever and do whatever he wanted as a child. At the age of twelve, he could drive a car, plant a field, or play and hunt in the woods for hours. I found this freedom fascinating. It is something that many children in the United States do not get to experience today.
By writing The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, I felt like I got a second chance to get to know my grandfather. I'll always be grateful to him for giving me that opportunity. Thank you to the Judy Lopez Memorial Awards committee for honoring my book and my grandfather's memory. I hope everyone who reads this story enjoys getting to know it as much as I did.