A few years back, I fell in love with Leaving Atlanta, a fictional novel that tackles the real life tragedies behind the Atlanta child murders that took place between 1979 and 1981. Tayari Jones tells the story of these heinous crimes through the eyes of the children most affected by the horrific turn of events.
SYNOPSIS: At the start of a new school year in 1979, we get to know three children and their families as the entire community deals with the initial reports that there is a child murderer in Atlanta. Tasha Baxter, Rodney Green, and Octavia Harrison will discover back-to-school means facing everyday challenges in a new world of safety lessons, terrified parents, and constant fear. When classmates begin disappearing and friends become headlines Tasha, Rodney and Octavia find ways to live with the fear or escape it. (source)
When I read this book, I was in college and had yet to learn of the Atlanta child murders that terrorized the Black community in Georgia, resulting in at least 30 deaths and disappearances. Jones’ novel had me glued to each word, praying for the safety of these children, wishing the horror would come to an end and the perpetrators be found immediately.
It was then that I also fell in love with her writing: poetic, subtle, with strong, resonating storylines, and characters that you can almost feel right beside you. She went on to garner many awards for this story, notably the Hurtson/Wright Award for Debut Fiction. Leaving Atlanta was also named one of the best books of 2002 by The Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
So, I was ecstatic when I found out indie filmmakers Althea Spann and Karon Om Vereen are readying Leaving Atlanta for the big screen. I usually have a disdain for movies based on books, mainly because the movie always tends to fall short, but something about this story makes me feel like it needs to be told to a larger audience. It needs to reach those of us who don’t read, or pay attention to old or current headlines. People need to be pricked in their hearts, feel compassion, hold their children a little closer, and be more aware of the dangers that can lurk right outside of our homes.
Recently, Jones tweeted a link to a teaser clip made for the project.
The duo and their crew are busy raising money and seeking backers to help this production get on the road to completion. Check out their site over at Kick Starter, which offers easy and simple ways in which everyone can help.
I truly hope this project is able to get off the ground. I also encourage everyone to pick up this book. It’s entertaining, informative, and damn good writing!
Also, stay tuned for Jones’ upcoming release, Silver Girl, scheduled for May 2011.
For more info:Leaving Atlanta’s website: http://www.leavingatlantathemovie.com/ Tayari Jones’ blog: http://www.tayarijones.com