A Novel by James W. Ellison Based on the Screenplay Written by Doug Atchison
Akeehh Anderson, small and skinny for a just-turnedtwelve-yedr-oldand smart beyond her years, sits in her bedroom staring at her image in the mirror and engaging in one of herfdvorite pastimes: daydreaming. She removes her ghsses, cleans them on the sleeve of her blouse, then replaces them in a single, $owing, absent-minded movement. Slowly her image breaks into a smile. Xkeelah, she says in a su~risingly voice, given her low age and slight physical stature, "what a journey for a girl from South Los Angeles. Girls fiom this neighborhood just aren't supposed to have journeys like this. Everything seems like a dream. I know this happened and that happened and a whole bunch of other things, too, but it should seem more real than it does. What? the wordfor what &feeling? Come on, girL word are whar you're good at. What is it you%e reaching for? 'Verisimilitude'? Somnambulism'? 'D4d vu'? Nopethey're all wrong. But there? gotta be a word for it because it? how I've been feeling all year and it just doesn't go away.. .. >, She sticks out her tongue and crosses her qes. ''Euke crazj girl, phin loco, talking to yourselfhis way. Ifyou start answering yourseg you'll know you're in big, big trouble. 'Maybe the word l m searchin'for is.. . what? Maybe it? 'magic.' Human magic.... "
The Anderson family-mother, two sons, and two daughters-lived in a mostly black neighborhood in South Los Angeles, a dangerous, forlorn area that often erupted in violence, especially on Saturday nights and most especially on the hot nights of summer. It was lightyears removed from the glitter and glamour of Hollywood and the majestic coastline to the west. Akeelah attended Crenshaw Middle School, an unkempt institution with gang grafiti scrawled on the walls. There were dangling pipe fmtures in the bathrooms where, in better times, the sinks used to be. African-American and...