Judith Richards

Thelonious Rising

Nine-year-old Thelonious Monk DeCay lives in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward with his grandmother. His mother dead and his father missing, Monk is determined to find his father. With their harmonicas and bottle-cap taps, Monk and his best friend entertain the tourists in Jackson Square under the watchful eyes of eccentric historian Quinton Toussaint, who knows where to find Monk’s father.

Hurricane Katrina changes everything. Left homeless and alone after the storm, Monk befriends a deranged man and survives by sneaking across the rooftops and courtyards of the French Quarter, stealing food and supplies while hiding from both a murderer and the police. In the midst of the storm and its aftermath, a woman Monk has never met appears in New Orleans with answers to his questions about his long-lost father.

Judith Richards

Too Blue to Fly

A sensitively rendered portrait of a biracial family in 1947 Florida, Too Blue to Fly presents a family stretched to its very limit — where it discovers healing.

When eleven year old Wally McManus suffers the loss of his mother to cancer, he must move in with his father, a famous writer and a man he’s never met. Arriving in Belle Glade, Wally immediately confronts the stark realities of his new situation: an alcoholic father living with a black woman at the edge of town, a ramshackle house with no modern conveniences, a black half-brother who calls him “Precious,” and the prospect of indefinite neglect and ridicule.

Abandoned by their guardians to long solitary days, the boys forge an uneasy alliance for the summer. They manage their independence well enough until their need for love encounters a curious girl. Sparks fly in a powder keg of race and class, leaving the tenuous freedom of the family and the life of every black in town in jeopardy.

Judith Richards

Irrepressible Terrell Calder is a cigarette-smoking, lunch trading, school skipping six-year old boy growing up in a migrant work camp during the last days of the Great Depression under growing rumors of World War II.

Son of the camp manager, Terry has no interest in school, and instead is drawn into an unlikely friendship with Mr. McCree, an eccentric old man living in the cracks of civilization. Together they prowl the Everglades in search of rattlesnakes, epiphytes, and adventure, until the law and society change their lives forever.

Based on a true story the award-winning Summer Lightning has been reprinted in 15 languages since its first publication in 1978.

Judith Richards
Judith Richards
Judith Richards

Until now, the “shoe burnin’ ” was the worst-kept secret in the South. It started one day at a backwoods shack in Alabama, where writers and other miscreants sat around cold and complaining. Their host found a big box of shoes, pulled it up to the fireplace and began to pitch the shoes into the fire. As the shoes burned, writers and musicians made up stories and songs about where those shoes may have trod.


Judith Richards

The Sounds of Silence

Every family has its shameful secrets, but none more so than those of the Lee family. Aramenta Lee escaped her controlling mother by moving to Paris thirty years ago. Her quiet life there is shattered by a terse wire: AM DYING – COME HOME – MOTHER.

Aramenta arrives in Mobile, Alabama just hours prior to her mother’s death. She wants nothing more than to quickly settle the estate and escape family ties, but finds herself thwarted by a macabre secret her mother has held for thirty years.

Seminole Summer

Seminole Summer is the eagerly awaited sequel to Judith Richards’s international best-seller Summer Lightning. Redheaded, freckle-faced Terry Calder has returned to the swamps of the Everglades where
he lives in a migratory work camp with his mother and younger sister. While his father investigates atrocities in World War II Poland, ten-year-old Terry fills the role of the man of the family. Along the way, Terry becomes the legs for a wounded veteran, the conscience for an angry Indian boy, and the mind for a gentle friend who accidentally brings tragedy to them all.

A novel about triumph in the midst of adversity, Seminole Summer tells the story of a family tested yet emerging all the stronger.

Judith Goodreads