My name is Aris Hilton James. I’m the oldest of five children born to Lawrence and Loretta James. I graduated from Morehouse University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and am now working as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the local headquarters of an international company called Evans & Bell. I’m dating an amazing young lady named Camille, and she doesn’t know it yet, but I plan to propose to her very soon.
What is your role in the story?
As the oldest, I do my best to help out where I can. Financially, that means contributing to the household as well as to my parents’ retirement account. They’ve worked hard providing for our family, and they have always done right by me. I intend to do the same for them, as much as I can.
Our family has gone through some tough times emotionally over the years. It kills me that I can’t change the things that have happened. But right now, with Kendra going through whatever she’s going through…and with Meisha being back and all…my role is to be that protective older brother. And once or twice in this story, that meant briefly taking on a father figure role. Temporarily being the man of the house when Dad left for the brief time that he did.
What is your favorite hobby?
I have a couple high school friends who coach local teams, so as often as I’m able, I like to get out there and scrimmage with the players and give them some tips on how to improve their game. I played football all the way through high school and college, so this is my way of staying close to a sport I live and breathe. Even more importantly, I mentor some of these same players to help them stay on top of their academic studies as they work at their football careers. I was valedictorian of my high school graduating class, and I’ve lived the life they’re living. I want them to understand that there’s going to come that day when they can’t play ball anymore, and I’m teaching them the importance of having something practical to fall back on.
What is the challenge you're trying to overcome in the story?
I’m just trying to hold everything and everyone together. This sudden change in Kendra—I don’t know what to do with that. And Meisha’s return brings back a lot of memories and a lot of old family drama that goes beyond our immediate family. I’m trying to keep it together myself emotionally. My family has no idea how much I’m affected seeing my parents’ marriage falling apart. How much it hurts to see Kendra turning into this good-girl-gone-bad person I don’t recognize anymore. Or Meisha showing up after I’d pretty much given up hope of ever seeing her alive again. Or Philip kind of wandering aimlessly through life, hanging around his sketchy rapper friends. And baby Jada—I worry about how all this is affecting her. It hurts my heart.
If you could make one wish, what would you wish for?
So many, many things. Mostly, I think, that Uncle C.J. never came to stay with us that summer ten years ago. If that hadn’t happened, everything would be different. Everything. It may be a bit naïve to think that way—but I do think that. And wish that. I always will.
Title: K My Name is Kendra
Author: Kamichi Jackson
Genre: Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Kendra James’ life begins to spiral out of control with the return of her long-lost runaway sister Meisha, and the visit of a young celebrity uncle with questionable intentions. Things take a particular turn for the worse when that uncle exploits Kendra’s loneliness and untreated depression and makes a move on her that sends her world into a tailspin from which she’s not sure she’ll ever recover. Will she survive this tragedy…or will she hit rock-bottom before anyone even notices?
In addition to K My Name Is Kendra, Kamichi Jackson is the author of an eBook entitled Where Present Meets Past (originally available as part of the now-defunct Amazon Shorts Program), the middle reader book You’re Too Much, Reggie Brown, a forthcoming adult novel entitled The Brownstone, two unproduced screenplays, and several short stories. KJ has made numerous appearances in support of her work, among them the Baltimore Book Festival. When not writing, Kamichi is likely off somewhere singing karaoke. The South Norwalk, Connecticut native currently resides in Northern Virginia with family.
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