Wednesday YA: Petrified Flowers by Joiya Morrison-Efemini

In a midweek reading slump? Here’s a top pick from our YA collection!

Petrified Flowers by Joiya Morrison-Efemini

About the book

In this Novel-in-Verse, tragedy uproots Iris and her sisters, all named after flowers, from the solid ground of middle-class life and plants them, unsupervised, in the rocky terrain of low-income housing. In a world where rain falls only on the privileged, Liam, a student who attends the elite private school directly across the street, proves refreshing as a summer gale, gushing joy into the sisters’ lives. Further nurtured by Ma Moore, a church elder who sprinkles the Flower sisters with spiritual wisdom, Iris embraces her Heavenly Father with steadfast urgency.

But when a student takes a hopeless leap from the school roof, Iris withers under the scorching realization that everything she thought she knew about privilege—and God—lies crippled. Petrified Flowers is the anthem of one African-American girl straddling three worlds. It is a song of hope, a triumph of faith, and a resounding refrain of the Father’s eternal love.


Chapter 1


The afternoon      

it rained on their side of the street 

but not ours      

Dahlia and I sat idle, 

too hot to breathe 


We straddled a seesaw, 


Me digging my flip flop heels  

into recycled rubber. 

Her suspended mid-air, 

defying gravity. 

The two of us panting and dripping 

at Brooks Street Park. 

Wishing we could beam ourselves   
thirteen blocks north 

to Spriggs Park 

where our sisters played. 

Wishing we could dip our toes into homemade concrete 

and melt into abandon  

with the rest of the Flowers. 

We had disregarded Mom’s orders 

to remain inside. 

Dahlia was supposed to be confined to her bed. 

I’d been roped into nursing her flu. 

Instead, we persisted— 

I in reclaiming the childhood that had abruptly ended 

and Dahlia in growing up. 

We played 

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum. 

I was too old for the game, but not for the wishing. 

If wishing could actualize  

the sweet, juicy pieces 

we sang of, 

maybe we could sing Daddy back 

and exhume Mom. 

But, our voices cracked  

from singing too long. 

Our expectations ran dry 

from hoping too hard. 

Then we heard a murmuring. Hope

We both stopped singing 

squinted up  



to the other side of the street. 

A miraculous  

liquid sheet descended. 




We seized scanty drafts in fits and waves;  
even still, we accepted the  


of their respite 

from the unbearable hot spell. 

It literally rained on only one side of the street. 

The injustice fumed. 

Steam surged from the concrete as it poured— 

gloriously commonplace. 

Acrid on parched tongues 

the immoral aftertaste of so many entitlements   

permitted just over there. 

We weathered still. 

Bystanders cemented 

on the outskirts of beautiful lives. 

Like what you’ve read? Grab your copy here:

Joiya Morrison-Efemini is a Christian wife and mother. She is busy raising four fantastic children and writing on her off hours. She is a runner, piano player, motherhood mentor, and Schnoodle mama.

Her lyrical collection of short stories in verse, THE NOTES THEY PLAYED, was published by Paradigm Concept in 2017. Her first novel in verse, THE IMPOSSIBLE, is loosely based on the life of her grandparents, who traveled from Georgia to Upstate New York in the Great Migration. It was published in 2019 by Covenant Books.

PETRIFIED FLOWERS, her second novel in verse, is the story of half a dozen sisters who face tragedy and are haunted by a death-in-threes prophesy. In the midst of their hardship, they are introduced to Jesus, and He restores them. PETRIFIED FLOWERS is scheduled to be released by Anaiah Press on June 16, 2020.

Visit her blog spot:

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