July 20, 2019 10:00:51 PM
Author Deborah Johnson's novel "The Air Between Us" (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2009) was recently selected as a featured book in JetBlue's Soar with Reading literacy initiative.
Started in 2015, Soar with Reading places free book vending machines in underserved communities to increase book availability and promote reading. This summer, six vending machines dispensing literature for all ages have been put in neighborhoods throughout New York City's five boroughs. The program has previously visited cities including Detroit, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Johnson, of Columbus, hopes it will eventually make its way to Mississippi.
Johnson learned about her novel's selection about three months ago.
"I was so pleased, of course, because this is the first book that I'd done, and the whole experience of doing this book was wonderful from beginning to end," she said of the novel set in 1960s Mississippi.
"The Air Between Us" won the 2010 Mississippi Library Association Award for Fiction.
JetBlue's current book vending machines will be regularly restocked through Sept. 6, providing reading for children and adults at designated community centers, branch libraries and parks. The emphasis is on keeping youth engaged in reading while school is out, and parents who read make good role models.
Soar with Reading is a signature program of JetBlue For Good®, the airline's platform for social impact and corporate responsibility.
"JetBlue is really great to do this, to care about literacy in the country -- and not just to care but to really do something to help the situation. It's such an honor to be chosen to be part of something this important and helpful. ... They do this all over, and I'm hoping we can get this in Mississippi."
Johnson's second novel, "The Secret of Magic" (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2014) was awarded the 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. The author is currently completing her third book, "Washington and Leigh." She also teaches in the Stanford University online writing program.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.