The Power of Hello

The Power of Hello

by Phebe Shumate-Yawson


Publisher Xlibris US

Published in Children & Teens (Young Adult), Literature & Fiction, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Teens/Social Issues, Literature & Fiction/Coming of Age

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Book Description

Th e Power of Hello is a narrative told through the eyes of Lola, a thirteen-year-old girl who is afraid to make friends at her new school. But when she is unexpectedly befriended by Briyah (the richest, most beautiful, and popular girl in school) everything changes.

Sample Chapter

“I Think I Can, I Think I Can”

Ok I can do this. I just walk up to my parents and tell them I’ve been invited to a super cool party and they can come too if they want. Geez. I can see it now: my mom starts crying while my dad does his victory dance. He looks so weird when he does that dance. Like a broken chicken after running a mile, trying to dance like Ricky Martin. But hey, he’s my dad! They’ll be relieved that I’m not a weirdo or a loser. Ok, well, here I go. I walk into the family room. They’re all in there watching Steve Harvey on Family Feud. It’s the ‘Fast Money Round,’ so I wait because we all guess with them on this part. I usually get at least three, number one answers.

It just went to commercial break - now is the time. I jump up, and in a loud clear voice I say, ‘Mom, dad? I’ve been invited to a party this Saturday. Can we please go shopping so I can get an outfit? It’s a pool party for Briyah Lewis.’

Everyone stares at me, but then Family Feud comes on again, so they go back to the television. Then my dad presses pause. ‘You’re going what? To a party? Come sit next to your papa. Are you sure you want to go?’

Me: ‘Yes dad, I’m excited.’

Dad: ‘Ok, because you don’t have to. I rather enjoy you being a loner and creating your own environment with your decisions. I was hoping that was something you got from me.’

Mom: ‘Honey, we love you for you - ok? Don’t go because you think it will make us happy.’

Me: ‘But mom, you guys are always telling me stories about your time in high school: dad played baseball, and you were class president and had the leading your high school play. Plus, you guy are invited too. But you don’t have to come.’

Mom: ‘But that was us, and you are you. And you have to be comfortable with who you are as you walk through life. I’m really proud of the child I have. But telling me I don’t have to come… like, really?? Who are you and where is my shy daughter? You look like you’re ready to face the world. You’re thirteen, just turned thirteen in fact. There’s no rush. Enjoy your chance to be a child, because you don’t get to do it over. When you have grown, you have grown, that’s it. So take joy in being a kid, a young lady. You’re so beautiful and not just because you’re mine. But you’re a genuinely caring person and that’s a beautiful trait - don’t lose that. Keep letting your heart guide you. And like your dad said, you create your own environment. Don’t go with the flow - the flow will take you right off a bridge.’

Me: ‘Wow! This is not what I expected. I thought you’d be crying, mom. And I thought dad would be dancing! But you’re both rather chill about it. I thought this would be a big deal, but in a different way. I will consider all your words. I’m laying them in my heart. And now can we go shopping?’

Mom: ‘But it’s only Wednesday, you have time. We’ll go tomorrow after school. I know that if you’re asking to go out, that means your homework is already done...?’

Me: ‘Say what? Umm … let me just double check.’ I leave and they watch the end of Family Feud. I run to my room, like life itself is chasing me.

(Mom is right. What’s the rush? I haven’t even touched my homework and I’m going to be so swamped. I pull out my books from my book bag and look over all my assignments. It just feels like all the teachers at school had a meeting, and said: ‘Ok - let’s all give them the hardest work at the exact same time! Yeah, yeah, yeah! Good idea!’ Because they all give assignments like they’re your only class. Who gives twelve pages of math, due the next day? Like this is rocket science school! And read 2 chapters in biology plus answer 30 questions. It makes me want to give up before I even start. But - I feel a push reminding me that I can do this. I should’ve started earlier. I have to plan another trip to see Rokan, but not until I finish this homework.)

A few hours pass and I see it’s getting dark outside. I should be given an award for completing my assignments.

(I’m so tired, and now it’s dinner time. No breaks, no pauses, like ever. Ok, I’ll roll with the punches. Teenage life is the worst!)

(A fresh new morning! Wow… I must’ve passed out after dinner. I don’t even remember getting into bed. Eesh! It’s 7:57am.)

Me: ‘Mom! You didn’t wake me up!’ (She knows it takes it me at least thirty minutes to get my crinkly hair in a ponytail. Awe man, I have to take a quick shower, get out my outfit. Teeth! Teeth, have to brush my teeth.)

Mom: ‘Lola, Regan, it’s time to go. Come on girls. Hop-hop! Let’s get to it! You’re going to make me late for work.’

Me: ‘Coming mom!’

Regan: ‘Ugh! Mom, Lola is nowhere near ready. We’re all going to be late.’

(Little sisters: can’t live with them, can’t deal with them. I don’t have any time to waste. I guess I got to wear a fro today.)

I grab my necklace tightly, and say: ‘Rokan, walk with me. I feel so vulnerable with my hair like this.

Like, everyone can see my thoughts.’

I feel like I can’t raise my head. I can’t stop looking at the floor. Finally, making my way downstairs,

I realize that everyone is in the car waiting for me. I grab a banana and a breakfast bar, and run outside.

I hop in the car and by now I’m actually sucking my thumb like a three-year-old. I know it’s a bad habit.

But every time I get nervous it’s my go-to-move. (Why aren’t we driving off? Everyone was waiting for me, and I’m here.)

Mom: ‘GO LOLA! Look at that hair… you’re gorgeous, girl! I’m glad to see you are coming into your own. Remember, you create your environment. The vibe you put out is the vibe that comes back to you. And right now baby, you got me swinging! Ooh you got me swinging! Oh, you too young to know about that.’ Me: ‘Thanks mom!’

(I wish I could disappear into thin air. Why is she making such a fuss over my hair? It’s out and wild. It’s going to be a very long day. Awe man, I should’ve played sick, or something. But you know? I’ve always been afraid to play sick. Somehow I got it in my head that if I played sick - knowing how many sick kids there are in the world - I might actually get sick and die. And so I’ve never done it. I guess I am a weirdo.)

Regan: ‘Different, cute. But I’d like to see you with more confidence. Like, stop sucking your thumb. Gross!’

(I can’t stand it when my sister says ‘Gross.’ The way she holds her face when she says it ... especially when she says it to me. I just want to cream her … with the creamiest, cream pie the world has ever seen.)

The thought of this makes me giggle out loud.

Regan: ‘What are you laughing at squirrel?’

Me: ‘I’m picturing you being hit with the largest cream pie in the world, and it going viral and breaking the internet.’

Regan: ‘Well aren’t you the best, big sister in the whole wide world!’

(I guess I should be nicer to her, but she really does push my buttons. Like - ‘Squirrel.’ She started calling me that because I’m quiet. I hate that name. Because even though my mouth is quiet, my thoughts are loud and they’re constantly coming to me at rapid speeds. So fast in fact, that I can’t entertain them all. And I am just trying to focus on the good ones, but this girl knows how to boil my coffee. It’s like she was born with the genetic code breaking ability to tick my tock. No one can get me mad quicker than she can. But then again, no one can make me smile harder. I love her so much. As annoying as she is, I do want her to be proud of me. And I do want her to listen to me. So, I should listen to her. If she wants me to hold my head up high - then that’s what I’ll do.)

Mom: ‘Alright girls, your dad is picking you up today at 3:30 in the afternoon. Stay together and call me if you need anything, ok? I love you girls. Regan, do awesome on your test today. Lola, do your best… I’m kidding! Awesomeness from awesome children, is requested from an awesome mom, ok?’

I think we actually ran. Not because we were late for class, or because it was a way to avoid answering her. We just… instinctively and simultaneously ran. I think we were running from our mom.

Regan: ‘Why was mom talking so weird, like that?’

Me: ‘I feel like something was lost in translation. I think we need a translator. Regan, did we just run from mommy together?’

Regan: ‘Why am I laughing so hard? My body is getting weak… Yes we ran together from mommy. Lola, I like you like this. Not so hyper conscious of your surroundings… rather, just being in the moment with me. Can we talk like this more often? Please?’

Me: ‘Thanks sissy. Yes, I’m trying. I like spending time with you too… but we better hurry up and get to our classes before we get chopped like your favorite TV show.’

Walking to my first class I give myself a check over because I had dressed so quickly: (So - matching socks? Check! Jeans? Not what I would’ve wanted but ok. Shirt? Has an eagle on it, Go Girl. Necklace? Check!

All right, All right, OMG -teeth! Teeth! I didn’t brush my teeth! Oh my goodness, why didn’t Regan say anything?

She had to have smelled it. Oh this is sooooo embarrassing. Ok, I need to do something… I have a banana… can that alter my breath? It won’t make it pop, but gees… it must have some kind of effect. This was supposed to be my confident day, the day I walked the halls with my head held high. But I can’t, I’m too embarrassed. Oh no, Briyah Lewis is making her way towards me... What do I do?)

Briyah: ‘Hi Lola!’

(I can stare at her shoes - that will keep my breath away from her face and nose. If she smells my breath as is, she’ll faint, and die, and I’ll be sad. Too sad to ever speak again and that’ll be the worst thing ever. So avoid her and say hi at the same time… this is going to be difficult.)

Me: ‘Hi Briyah.’

Briyah: ‘You have P.E. now, right?

Me: ’Mmhhmm.’

Briyah: ‘Can I walk with you? I’m on my way there too.’

(I want to ask her why she chose me? Why she talked to me on that day, out of all the other days? Why she picked me to come to her party? I know we’re all invited… I mean like, the whole school. But she’s really trying to get to know me and I don’t know what I did that would make her want to do that.)

Me: ‘Yes sure, let’s walk together.’

Briyah: ‘Well you’re probably wondering why I asked you out of the blue to my party, huh?’

Me: ‘Uh, yeah.’

Briyah: ‘I noticed you a while back, and kept trying to figure out ways to get your attention. Because I know what it’s like to be the new girl, and what it’s like to be shy… and I wanted to make it easier for you.’

Me: ‘Could you really be this kind?’

Briyah: ‘For me, it wasn’t about being kind. It just made me think of a time when my life was really hard, and I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I wouldn’t let my mom or dad in, and I love them a lot - we’re really close. I just didn’t feel like they would understand. Sometimes I feel like we’re from different places in the world simply because we’re from different times on the calendar. It’s a different world today than when they were growing up. Kids our age are taking their own lives because they don’t feel like they can go to… you know, reach out to anyone. I needed someone and Kai was there for me (we’re best friends now), so I want to be there for you. I was eleven, I was sitting at the cafeteria table all by myself and Kai sat next to me and said hello. My life changed dramatically after that. So seeing you come here, the way you walk down the halls every morning… I always just wanted to say hello like Kai did for me. But I’m not as outgoing as she is. I didn’t know what I would say after hello. So with my birthday coming up, I figured we could have a conversation about that. I know I kind of forced you to come. But if you’d rather not, I understand.’

Me: ‘Thank you Briyah. We’re going to be so late for class... but let’s talk later. I really do want to come and I really do want to be your friend. Now that I know what it feels like to have a friend… I don’t want to be without one!’

Briyah: ‘Then I’m your friend, and let’s be best friends for life!’

Me: ‘You got it!’

We enter the classroom together. And opening that door with her, was like opening a new page of a chapter... like opening my eyes for the first time. She’s not trying to change me into someone else - someone I’m not. She’s not trying to make me feel self conscious. She’s not a person who wants to change me. She’s just Briyah, and she’s my friend. And that’s great! I have a friend and her name is Briyah. Briyah Lewis.


Excerpted from "The Power of Hello" by Phebe Shumate-Yawson. Copyright © 2016 by Phebe Shumate-Yawson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Phebe Shumate-Yawson

Phebe Shumate-Yawson

My name is Phebe Shumate-Yawson, and I’ve always had a love for writing. I love the written word and the power it has over us all. As we read each word, we’re pulled deeper and deeper into the world, mind, and heart of the author. I am hoping that my words can do the same for you, and also change the bad to good in the minds of our youth. I look to give another perspective. I think of it as bringing wholesomeness back. If showing care or respect is ‘corny,’ then I say - let’s all be corny until corny is cool. We write the narrative. We hold in our grasp the power to change the world. All in all, my strongest desire is to inspire others as I was inspired myself. I am still inspired to this day - to live freely, love wholly, be happy, and make and laugh every day.

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