WASHINGTON — The Unwelcome Stranger is the story of an African American girl named Jasmine trying to make sense of her new reality that is consumed by COVID-19 from packed grocery stores to zoom calls with friends.
“Although we're all experiencing COVID, globally” Drew Edwards said. “We're not experiencing it equally or equitably. So, we wanted to make sure that we had some type of resource that was reflective and representative of folks who are experienced at this moment.”
Drew Edwards and Taylor Tomu co-authored the book through Pangea Education, an organization promoting literacy around the globe. In the book, Jasmine’s parents are both essential workers.
They live with their elderly grandmother.
The fictional family members are like so many others who find themselves on the front lines or living in multi-generational homes: factors that make you more vulnerable to the virus according to the CDC.
Tomu is a medical anthropologist who is currently studying the effects of COVID-19 on African Americans.
“Whether your family looks like Jasmine's family or not, you're going to have to sit down and really think about logically how you're going to incorporate these new restriction lifts and how you how you're going to negotiate,” Tomu said. “I think this book offers families a really good tool in building a rapport with one another and checking in.”
In The Unwelcome Stranger, Jasmine and her brother learn how to tackle their fears and beat the boogeyman (COVID-19 represented by a ghost) by wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping their distance.
“Only by sticking together and really understanding each other, not necessarily agreeing on everything but understanding where people are coming from, will we really see a better world,” Tomu said.
The Unwelcome Stranger is available online for free in 8 different languages. The authors are currently working on about 4 additional books they hope to have complete by the end of summer.
They hope the books can be used as resources for schools in the fall – no matter what that looks like.