Kick the Wind is a story about regular people who are called upon to do extraordinary things during a remarkable era in American history.
It’s two years after the Civil War in a small Mid-Western town. Two girls, one deaf and motherless, the other the first African American to break the color line in the local all-white grammar school, must forge a friendship strong enough to save their lives when racial violence erupts.
I began writing Kick the Wind after I came across a little book that my grandmother wrote for me as a child about her own childhood as a deaf girl in Iowa. Stuck inside on an icy day, as I turned the pages, my grandmother’s voice carried me back to the nineteenth century and her home in Iowa at a time when the generosity, kindness, and the love of family and friends made a difficult life bearable for many.
Kick the Wind, is historical fiction inspired by real people and actual events. After the ice melted and I could leave my home, my desire to learn more led me to study people, customs, and ideas from the years following the American Civil War. I began researching Iowa history and was excited to discover the true story of an African American girl named Susan Clark. Susan’s father, Alexander Clark, sued the Muscatine, Iowa, school board in 1868 and won the right for his daughter to attend the all-white grammar school, over eighty years before Brown v. The Board of Education. The Iowa case is cited in Brown.
Historical fiction relies on the author’s imagination to fill in gaps in history and create the internal state of mind of the characters. The character Allie is based on my memories of my grandmother, her book, letters, and other writings. Benjamin Carter in Kick the Wind is modeled on Alexander Clark. The character Susan Carter is inspired by his daughter.
Kick the Wind is aimed at middle-grade readers (ages 10-12) because Allie and Susan, both twelve years old, are going through much that middle-grade kids are dealing with -- friendships made and lost, family relationships changing, a wide range of school experiences, and a growing awareness of the wide world outside of themselves and the injustices that often contains. I also gravitate toward middle-grade readers because that was a time in my own life when I discovered the enchantment of books.