by Glodean Champion
About the Book
In 1965, The Circle, in Watts, Los Angeles, was a close-knit Black community, filled with its own particular joys and troubles. Set against the backdrop of racism and everyday police brutality, this vibrant neighborhood comes alive in Salmon Croquettes, as 12-year-old Zayla grapples with the confusion of feeling like a boy in a girl’s body. As she comes of age she discovers that those first sexual feelings lead her to first love for another girl. Is she what the other girls call her, a “bulldagger”? And what does that even mean?
In the midst of her transformation from tomboy to young woman, the community she loves explodes in a racial uprising. The Watts Riots teach Zayla the fragility of life and the importance of friendship. As the embers die down and the smoke clears, Zayla also learns something else– a family secret. As she navigates the deep ambiguity of her own parents’ relationship, Salmon Croquettes is a sensitive exploration of her transition from childhood incomprehension – why do adults expect children to magically understand what is acceptable and what isn’t – to an acceptance of who she is, and who they are.
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Salmon Croquettes is Glodean Champion’s compelling first novel about 12-year-old Zayla, an African American, a non-gender-conforming pre-teen who has the challenging task to navigate the expectations and homophobia by some members of her community, particularly her mother, from whom she craves love and acceptance. Luckily, Zayla is assured of her father’s love and that of her friend Malik, both of whom accept her just as she is. Set in 1965, Watts, Los Angeles, during the first wave of protest over police brutality (Watts Riots), this accomplished novel will keep you turning the page and rooting for this young, full of spunk protagonist as she tries to stand firm in her belief that maybe she likes girls, maybe she doesn't - either way, it's okay and something she shouldn't be punished for by God.
Glodean Champion has written a novel that will capture the hearts of many, including young African American girls who identify outside of the traditional “pink-frilly girl” norm. A must-read.”
Opal Palmer Adisa, former Distinguished Professor of The MFA at CCA and current University Director of The Institute for Gender and Development Studies, at The UWI, Jamaica
In Salmon Croquettes, Glodean Champion introduces readers to twelve-year-old Zayla McKinney, who is in a battle against gender roles enforced and empowered by her mom, Zora. The battle includes Zayla’s dress, speech, hairstyle, and poise. Zora attempts to cage her in with gender restraints but being a questioning child with a strong acceptance of self, Zayla kicks at the cage and receives some serious childhood scares for her efforts.
Champion artfully creates help for Zayla in the battle and expertly illustrates the resilience of a twelve-year-old mind that is the product of a loving family and community. Readers see her successfully incorporating that love and guidance against her mom’s manipulation of her development. The novel is set against the backdrop of the 1965 Watt’s uprising. Still, the novel's larger battle is between mother and daughter - and simmering under the surface are past lies and family secrets that Zayla’s curious nature drives her to unearth, which adds to the tension between mother and daughter. Salmon Croquettes is an excellent teen and YA read.
Tony Lindsay, author of Street Possession, One Dead Preacher, and many others
I absolutely loved this book in so many different ways. It shows the struggles of a young girl, from feelings she has of her body, dealing with the cruelty of mean kids at school, a cold mother, and the distress of living in Watts during the summer of 1965. But she has excellent role models as well who try to give her advice and guidance. I highly recommend this book. It’s heartwarming and, at the same time, heartbreaking and ever so relevant for these times.
Kathleen Stewart, an avid reader (Amazon Review)
About the Author
Glodean Champion can be best described as a "Renaissance Woman with Flair." In her professional world, she is a business transformation leader & L.O.V.E. coach. Her L.O.V.E. Method and Kaizen Your Life programs help people get out of their way so they can create achievable goals to build a life they love free from constraints.
In her creative life, she is a photographer, graphic artist, musician, and writer. Her writing has been published in Hip Mama Magazine, Exposure, The Womanist, The Word and The Mills College Weekly. Her photography and graphic artwork have been shown in several Bay Area galleries as well as the Art of Living Black, San Francisco International Arts Festival, the San Francisco Black Film Festival, and as one of four featured artists in The Colors Within: The Inner Splendor of the Black Female.
Glodean received a B.A. from Mills College and an MFA from California College of the Arts. She's a VONA Voices and Hurston/Wright Foundation alum. Glodedan currently lives in Monterey, Calfornia with her adorable Tibetan Terrier, Tashi, and is working on the sequel to Salmon Croquettes and a memoir, "Tough Love: Sh*t My Momma Used to Say" based on her mother, Frances Champion, and "the amazing intentionality" her mother put into raising her.
"It's been a journey getting to this point and now that I'm here...I'm not going anywhere any time soon! So, fasten your seatbelts and hang on. This is gonna be a wild ride!!"
All my love,