Jun 7, 2018

QK Agent Round: I Wish I Was White

Title: East of Maplewood
Entry Nickname: I Wish I Was White
Word Count: 80K
Genre: YA (OwnVoices)


On a beautiful day in upper-middle-class Sparta NJ, Adam Hollander, the only black kid in a predominantly white school, just kissed his biggest crush. Kissing the mayor’s daughter may make him a little nervous, but it’s hands-down the best day of his life. That is until Adam’s father, a white teacher, is accused of molesting one of his students, and the perfect day becomes a nightmare for the Hollander family.

Flash-forward two years. Adam, now sixteen, has relocated with his family to the extremely poor, urban neighborhood of Irvington, where interacting with other black teens at his school for the first time triggers an identity crisis. As a heavy-metal-loving, film connoisseur and self-proclaimed “Oreo,” Adam knows he doesn’t fit in with the profane, gang-sign-throwing kids in his new town. He wants nothing more than to go back to living a normal, happy life—meaning a life amongst white people, which is where he feels a sense of belonging. But that’s not in the cards.

When he meets some kids in a journalism club who actually look like him and have similar interests, things start to look up for Adam. His new friends help him through a rough transition, showing him that color doesn’t define a person. It’s a part, but not the whole. But when word of his dad’s prior accusation finds its way to Adam’s new school, his father suffers a mental breakdown. Still reeling from being railroaded for a crime he claims he didn’t commit, he threatens to shoot up the school, and Adam’s world is rocked once again. Hurting for his dad yet terrified of what might happen, Adam must stop him from carrying out a mass shooting before dozens of people are slaughtered—including his new friends.

Bio: Richard B. Knight’s fiction has been published in Firewords Quarterly and Mad Scientist Journal. But more importantly, he has taught in the Irvington school system for over ten years and has witnessed the struggle of students like Adam Hollander on a daily basis—students who know they have value but don’t feel like they belong anywhere. As a person of color, he also grew up wishing he was white, so a lot of himself comes through in Adam’s voice.

First 250

“Aren’t you worried about her dad finding out?” my best friend, Anthony, asks me. I’m sitting beside him on his bed while he plays The Evil Within on his X-Box One. He gets a new game every week and shrugs it off like it’s nothing. “You know he’s racist, right?”

You see, this is why I wish I was white. Then Anthony wouldn’t say dumb shit like this to me on a regular basis.

“Who told you that?” I ask.

Anthony’s eyes remain locked on the game, so he can’t see me biting my nails.

“Well, her dad’s a Republican, and my dad says that Republicans hate black people.”

“That’s not true. My mom’s a Republican, and she’s black, so…”

Your mom’s a Republican?” Anthony nearly drops his controller and his eyes go wide like I just said my mom is Emperor Palpatine or something. “I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

“Alright, fine,” Anthony says. “It doesn’t mean anything. But spill. How’d you kiss Jessica on the stairs today? You get tongue?”

Just my luck Anthony turns his head at the exact moment that I’m blushing. But this is one of the few instances where I like being black. He probably can’t even tell. When he blushes, his whole face turns raspberry red, and he even looks like a raspberry with all that facial hair. “I gave her my Christmas present.”


“Annnndd she kind of looked at me like—I imitate Jessica’s expression, squinting through imaginary strands of hair.


  1. I would really like to take a look at this! Please send a query, synopsis and pages to chquery [at] mcintoshandotis [dot] com. I look forward to reading!
    -Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis

  2. Wild Card! I would love to take a look at the full. Please feel free to send it along as a word document to andrea@harveyklinger.com with QueryKombat in the subject line. Thanks! - Andrea Somberg/Harvey Klinger Inc.

  3. I'd like to see more. Please send your pages as an MS Word file to mgya@LKGagency.com
    Thank you.