On the day of her last brother’s funeral, a Promise an eight year-old African-American girl decides she has had enough of funerals. She wants to go to Astroworld--an amusement park with her class. She longs to trade her dreary life for the world of cotton candy and clowns. A serial rapist lurks in the background terrorizing the city. Promise’s Mother gives her money to buy white roses to be placed in her Brother Jonathan’s coffin. Promise sees this as her chance to escape. She catches the first bus to come along in hopes it will take her to Astroworld. The bus driver who is the serial rapist has other plans for Promise. He steals her innocence.
Later, in an asylum for murdering her child, Promise writes letters to her childhood friend LaKeisha Ann. This therapy helps her confront the demons from her past that led to her crime. Her recovery is temporarily thwarted by a cruel nurse/attendant called Big Fingers. Promise and the other women overpower this monster and reveal “his” secret.
The strength of the book is the writing and the main character’s keen observations. I would call The Road to Astroworld a literary novel that tells its story in a simple uncomplicated voice and will make the readers go “Wow!” instead of knitting their brows puzzling over philosophical musings. The major theme of overcoming adversity has universal appeal across all ethnic backgrounds. Promise’s heroism, determination, and precociousness will win reader’s hearts.
The Road to Astroworld received many accolades when it was represented years ago. It has undergone an extensive revision that has sharpened the narrative voice. The author is an award winning writer who understands the collaborative process in today’s publishing world.