By Nisi Shawl
A wonderful middle-grade fantasy debut about Black families, family history, family curses ... and a really marvelous pair of spectacles.
After Winna's little sister breaks her glasses, her grandfather gives her an old-timey pair of spectacles that belonged to her great-aunt Estelle. The specs are silver and perfectly circular, with tiny stars on the bridge and earpieces that curl all the way around her ears.
Best of all, they're magic.
Because when Winna makes a wish beginning with the words "What if"--that is, when she speculates--the spectacles grant it. Winna wishes she could see ghosts ... and soon she meets not only the real Estelle, but Estelle's mother, Winona. Nearly a century before, Winona escaped from slavery and ran north with her baby, Key. But Key was stolen from her under mysterious circumstances, and now Estelle and Winona have a mission for Winna: Find Key.
He's still alive. He doesn't know the whole truth. And unless Winna can solve the mystery and bring him home, a powerful curse called the Burden will smother out their family's lives--and Winna's mom could be its next victim.
This beautifully written historical fantasy by an award-winning science fiction author offers new twists and turns in every chapter and will leave you looking at your own family's roots with new eyes.
About the Creators
Nisi Shawl is a multiple-award-winning writer and editor. Their novel Everfair was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the short story collection Filter House won the James Tiptree Jr. Award. In 1997, they cofounded the Carl Brandon Society to help give people of color greater visibility in the science fiction and fantasy worlds, and their "Writing the Other" workshops and accompanying book (co-created with Cynthia Ward) have taught thousands of writers new ways of thinking about diversity and representation within fiction.
Nisi received the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2019. Speculation is their first novel for young readers. Born near Kalamazoo, Michigan, Nisi now lives near Seattle. Find them online at nisishawl.com and on Twitter at @nisishawl.