SUSANNE JACOBY HALE, a former drop-out prevention teacher in a New York City high school, earned a master's degree from New York University in education and creative writing. Although, when she began teaching in the real ACE program, depicted in Shades of Gray, she had no idea that it would change her life forever. Having been out of the classroom for a few years, Jacoby Hale still felt the need to make a difference in the lives of students. Shades of Gray is semi-autobiographical.
Title: Shades of Gray
Author: Susanne Jacoby Hale
Page count: 347
Tell us about your book: In inner-city New York, horrors lurk in the unruly hallways of Malcolm High School. As in-school riots and gang violence consistently envelop the classroom, Olivia Dalton attempts to teach her students while simultaneously directing a drop-out prevention program that embraces an ever-increasing group of at-risk students. Left with little hope she will ever have children of her own, Olivia becomes entrenched in her students’ lives, partly out of love, but also out of an unconscious desire to avoid her own internal anguish.
Meanwhile, Olivia’s devoted husband, Tom, is having trouble facing his own disappointments in not being able to create a family. In an effort to protect Olivia, he attempts to hold her back from the one place she feels useful and fulfilled—her career. But despite her husband’s efforts to quell her desire to help the troubled and confused, Olivia presses on and believes in change, even in the face of her students’ continual mistakes and poor choices. Neither Tom nor Olivia have any idea that everything is about to change when an unassuming gift is left at their door.
Shades of Gray is the profound story of one woman’s unpredictable journey to the truth, new beginnings, and a kind of love she never knew before.
How long did it take to write the book?
My book started as a series of short stories. Somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that they could all be melded together. At that point things started to move, but the whole process was years – with a few breaks in between.
What inspired you to write the book?
Shades of Gray is semi-autobiographical. I actually did teach in New York in a dropout prevention program and loved every day of it. The students, the program, the stories that touched my life stuck with me and were undoubtedly my inspiration. I learned as much from those kids as they may have from me.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I write best when left alone. After I stopped teaching, I was fortunate to have time after my own kids left for school each day. That is when I write. At the same time, I carry a pad and pen at all times, because I am constantly reading and people watching and never know when something or someone may strike me. It could be as simple as a word that I can envision describing a character. I love words.
As for research, yes, I did some. Although I was familiar with infertility from friends and family, I had to learn more about adoption. The internet is incredible. You can literally read people’s stories firsthand. People share just about anything in a blog.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope Shades of Gray can play a part in eradicating people’s notions that color matters. The idea that we are all the same underneath is real and when people begin to see the world in shades of gray, literally, it will be a much more peaceful place. This is more of my overall message, but if I were to break it down, I am hopeful that educators will be inspired to bring the love back into their classrooms and that people who want children will realize that inter-racial adoption is not just for celebrities. There are too many children right here wishing for forever families and they don’t care what color they are. Love doesn’t come in colors.
Excerpt from book:
First three chapters are available for download at:
Where can we go to buy your book?
My website: susannejacobyhale.com
Any other links or info you'd like to share?
Book Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?