malcolm x’s adolescence is being turned into a young adult novel

April 3, 2019
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Malcolm X’s third daughter, educator and activist, Ilyasah Shabazz, and author Tiffany D. Jackson, have come together to create the young adult novel, The Awakening of Malcolm X. The book focuses on the transformation of Malcolm X that happened during his time in prison and during his adolescence prior to becoming the political icon we know him as today. It serves as a tool of showing how great leadership and revolutionaries are not born, but created and refined. Jackson said, “It is such an honor to be working with the incomparable Ilyasah Shabazz, whose fierce passion to keep her father’s legacy ever present is both contagious and inspiring. Hoping this book will shine a light on the loving roots Malcolm X grew from.”

The book was acquired by Grace Kendall at Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers who notes now imperative the preservation of Malcolm X’s legacy is, “It is such an pleasure to be working with Ilyasah again, now on a novelization of her father’s adolescence. And I have long admired Tiffany’s beautiful, incisive writing. Malcolm X is a personal hero of mine, and I’m thrilled to be publishing a book that will bring a new generation of young readers to his inspiring, empowering legacy.”

The importance of the book to be available for young readers is almost beyond articulation. Nobody reaches their highest potential without going through their own personal wilderness. Often our heroes, especially in death, are deified to the point where they are removed from their humanity. This creates an image of perfectionism and exceptionalism that changes people’s relationship with these heroes and icons. It deposits the idea into many imaginations that something miraculous happened to make them into the powerful leaders and icons, instead of the truth—that life’s events and circumstances were used to serve a person’s transformation into the leader or icon we know them as today. The latter makes one’s own highest potential feel tangible, whereas the former makes it feel like a fantasy. We do not need another hero story that is nice to hear, but feels impossible to accomplish in one’s own personal life. It is important for all people — but especially young people — to know that greatness is accessible.

The Awakening of Malcolm X is scheduled to publish next spring.