Celebrating The Common Read

On Campus
photo of students getting their book autographed by Edwidge Danticat
Author Edwidge Danticat (seated) autographs students books in the Ann Felton Center following her discussion in Storer Auditorium.

Onondaga Community College student Kiki Horton had been looking forward to meeting the author of this year's common read. She'd been carving out time to read Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory before the author's September 9 visit to campus. The sophomore Humanities major was able to finish the book the night before the big day. "It was a page turner. I couldn't put it down," she said.

Danticat's biggest event on campus was a mid-day discussion in Storer Auditorium which Horton played a prominent role in. After Danticat read excerpts of her work, Horton joined her on stage and asked her questions. "I thought I would be more nervous but I was comfortable. The questions pertaining to the book were from my point of view."

One of the questions Horton asked was who her imaginary audience was when she was writing Breath, Eyes, Memory. "I wrote this book for the girl I was when I was 15," answered Danticat. "When I got here from Haiti, I was 12 and I didn't speak any English. I went to the public library and read all of the French books I could find. When I was 15 I wasn't seeing any books about girls like me. I was 15, I was a Haitian, I was living in Brooklyn. Paraphrasing Tony Morrison, 'If there's a book you want to read and it doesn't exist, you write it.' I wrote this book for the girl I was when I was 15 because she would have loved to have read it!"

Horton loved to read it too and felt a instant bond with Danticat while doing so. "I cried," Horton admitted afterwards. "Her relationship with her mother really resonated with me. I was raised by a single mother."

Following the event in Storer Auditorium Danticat signed copies of her book for members of the campus community. Breath, Eyes, Memory was published in 1994 when shewas 25 years old and was featured on Oprah’s Book Club.

photo of Edwidge Danticat speaking with OCC student Kiki Horton.
Common read author Edwidge Danticat (left) answers questions from student Kiki Horton (right) on the Storer Auditorium stage.


Onondaga Community College