BLOG TOUR: The Ballad of Ami Miles by Kristy Dallas Alley (Excerpt & Giveaway)

The Ballad of Ami Miles
Kristy Dallas Alley
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: December 1st 2020
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult

A teen girl on a quest to find her long-lost mother finds herself on a journey of self-discovery in Kristy Dallas Alley’s moving YA debut, The Ballad of Ami Miles.

Raised in isolation at Heavenly Shepherd, her family’s trailer-dealership-turned-survival compound, Ami Miles knows that she was lucky to be born into a place of safety after the old world ended and the chaos began. But when her grandfather brings home a cold-eyed stranger, she realizes that her “destiny” as one of the few females capable of still bearing children isn’t something she’s ready to face.

With the help of one of her aunts, she flees the only life she’s ever known and sets off on a quest to find her long-lost mother (and hopefully a mate of her own choosing). But as she journeys, Ami discovers many new things about the world…and about herself.

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I felt sure that everyone was asleep, but I avoided the hi-way just the same. All it would take was for Papa or Ruth or that man, as I still thought of him, to look out the window and see me in the bright moonlight, and my little adventure would be over before it ever got started. I shimmied across the wide, shining road, and down the slope into the woods. From there I followed alongside it without too much trouble. When the sun came up, I’d have to move deeper into the woods.

It wasn’t that long ago, my grandma Ruth used to tell me, that cars came down that hi-way all day and most of the night, heading down to The Gulf from places like Mississippi and Tennessee. We had an old truck that had could go a little ways on a sun charge, and I had seen Tennessee and Mississippi as shapes on a map and been made to learn the spellings of their names, but those places seemed so far away to me, not just in place but in time, that I could never really imagine them. I would look at the old junk heaps of cars and trucks that rusted on the handful of abandoned farms around us and try to picture it in my mind, a whole river of them moving down that hi-way, full of people going somewhere. Their destination, The Gulf, was even harder to imagine than Tennessee or Mississippi, since both Ruth and Papa told me those places weren’t really too much different from Alabama, where we were. I knew they had cities, just like Alabama once did, but they also had the country, which is where the compound is, and always had been, according to them. But the Gulf was told to me as a place of wide, sparkling blue and green water as far as the eye could see, bordered by sand that was white like sugar, which I had both seen and tasted, thanks to great-great-grandpa Jedidiah. Having no real way to imagine it, I would confuse things in my mind, thinking of that soft white sand as a taste of sweetness on my tongue, bordered by endless salty water.

I had seen a picture of the ocean, which the Gulf was a special part of, in those old 1992 encyclopedias Ruth used to teach me out of when I was little, but she said pictures didn’t do it justice. I had also seen pictures of children in those same books, some even with light brown or almost -black skin, wearing every kind of thing you can imagine, alone and in groups and with their parents. There were little babies in those pictures, held so sweetly by their mamas or tied to their backs in bright strips of colored cloth. But they were still the hardest thing for me to picture when I tried to imagine that stream of cars passing in front of Heavenly Shepherd Trailer Sales, which is the name on the sign that still stands, somehow, in front of the compound. I mean the children. Families with little boys and girls, yellow-haired or dark-headed or reddish like me, smiling out from back seats on their way to swim in all that big water. I had never seen a real, actual, flesh-and-blood child, and like the Gulf or China, I found them hard to imagine. Until I ran, I was always the smallest person in my world, and what I knew about the outside of myself was no more than could fit in the palm of my hand.


Author Bio:

Kristy Dallas Alley is a high school librarian in Memphis, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, four kids, three cats, and an indeterminate number of fish. She studied creative writing at Rhodes College in another lifetime and holds a Master of Science in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis. In an ideal world, she would do nothing but sit on a beach and read every single day of her life, but in reality she’s pretty happy reading on her front porch, neglecting the gardens she enthusiastically plants each spring, and cooking huge meals regardless of the number of people around to eat them. The Ballad of Ami Miles is her debut novel.

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