Two childhood friends reunite in a late 1950s Long Island high school. Bobbie doesn’t believe the southern attitude toward people of color applies to her northern world. Phillis lived in Mississippi and endured the worst effects of racial hatred, generating a mind filled with fear, distrust, and bitterness. Phillis must convince Bobbie to confront the reality, even as they fight for the right to be friends. With humor and drama, Phillis, Bobbie, and a diverse group of teenagers wage battle to merge Negro and White factions in their school. At first they succeed. They share friends, high school highs and lows, and first romances. Their euphoric lives collapse when officials accuse Phillis of arson, a riot ensues, and police arrive, guns drawn. They must expose the true culprits and clear Phillis’s name before she faces undeserved years in prison.
Changing Corners is available on line and in print. Go to Amazon.com
FACES Imprisoned Women and Their Struggle with the Criminal Justice System is a memoir of my experience with women convicted of capital crimes and serving life sentences in a Maryland maximum-security prison. It is an adult non-fiction project meant to be passed on to young adults—especially young women—as an informative and cautionary story.
The book chronicles interviews with incredible and courageous people—not only the inmates, but also individuals dedicated to justice and humane treatment for those behind bars. They come from different points of view, from different life experiences: a mother who lost a son in a random shooting; two mothers who have loved ones in prison; a man who was incarcerated for thirty-nine years, freed when he proved his innocence; a woman who mediates meetings between victims and perpetrators, promoting compassion on both sides; a warden of twenty years who recognizes the bias against women in our courts. All have a lifetime of fighting for equity in our judicial system.
I have also interviewed victims’ rights advocates. They recognize the ongoing anguish the victims’ families and friends suffer, sympathize with their unrelenting grief, and join them in their fight for justice for their loved ones. The torment the families experience is unspeakable, but the suffering on both sides cannot be healed by endless punishment and revenge.
How I wish more people could meet the women with whom I work, the women who are now my friends. They are so much more than what they did on the worst day of their lives. They wanted a play that would engage at-risk youth, warn the young people of the consequences of bad choices, and let them know they are not alone, that help is available.
I wanted to introduce these people to the world. I wanted the public to see them not as the monsters portrayed in the press, but as the beautiful, intelligent people they are. I wanted the public to hear them—to see them as human beings. I wanted their voices to be heard.
The women succeeded in their mission: we have documented proof of girls who turned their lives around because of the women’s efforts. I succeeded in my mission as well: the audiences embraced the women and marveled at “how normal they are.” They realized these people are all of us.
FACES is available on line and in print. Go to Amazon.com, enter: betty may faces.
Eleven-year-old hyperactive Bobbie is thrilled to be at Camp Mohegan, a weeklong summer camp on Long Island, New York. She shares a room with three sophisticated teenagers, where initial hostility quickly escalates to merciless bullying. High-spirited and funny Bobbie becomes a pathetic victim, hiding in a closet, her only friend a silent Hoover vacuum cleaner. She tries to stand tall, even gets in one good lick when she turns the tables—literally—in a prank meant to humiliate her. But the girls are relentless, and Bobbie is crushed and broken. Her decision to carry on alone is an act of courage; her eventual triumph is who she is.
Publication Date: End of 2016
Best-selling author, educator, and activist, Parker J. Palmer, PhD. said this about PAYBACK: I love it! It’s a wonderful story that could be encouraging to many kids of that age, and it’s written with such gritty realism that they will want to read it. Betty May is a great storyteller!
WHERE SPACE BEGINS
When Pete, a thirteen-year-old bitter foster child from West Baltimore, meets Ms. Batchet, an eccentric elderly woman with a sock puppet face, he can’t decide whether to barf or run. Their unlikely bond leads Pete and four of his friends to build a rocket ship for a journey through space. Fun and ambitious, yes, but why does NASA get involved and provide equipment and instructors for the fledgling astronauts? The rambunctious children have a wonderful time learning about space science and driving their teachers nuts, but the questions bubble through: Is the trip an exciting adventure or a waste of time? Do they really go beyond Earth’s rim, where scientists say space begins? Or will Pete learn that dreams and imagination are where everything begins? Pete has only one clue to Ms. Batchet’s grand idea and NASA’s generosity: Bubble Bath.
This book is still in progress. Publication date unknown.