Here’s how You Can’t Lock up the Moon begins:
pack the bag
Jamaria sorted quickly through the bead box, collecting orange and yellow beads - “hot sunshine” colors, her mother called them. She pinched the red, glass, heart bead between her fingers, placed it in the middle of the “hot sunshine” pile, and gathered up three alphabet beads: one C, one M, and one J. Carmelita McCrae Jones. Saying her full name was like reciting a short sweet poem.
She thought about her own name. Jamaria. Named after her abuela Maria and her grandfather Jahmal, she had rhythm in her name, just like her mother. “An aria is a beautiful piece of music, and that’s how your name ends. You have to stretch your jaw down to get the first ‘a’ right. It’s not Jam Maria, like Jam Strawberry. You are the beautiful Jamaria, hit the ‘mar’ the hardest when you say it.” Now Jamaria smiled just thinking about it.
She strung the beads on fish line. Jamaria knew her mother’s bracelet needed exactly sixteen beads and it would close with their favorite S clasp. Her mother always said the S stood for Sweetheart because they were sending out their love for each other. Saturday mornings used to be busy with bracelet-making around the kitchen table. Not anymore.
Her mother couldn’t wear her own clothes in prison. She couldn’t have any extras. But Jamaria planned to sneak this bracelet to her. She would see the S clasp and understand it was delivered with love from her daughter. Then her mother would find a secret place to store it so she could wear it when she slept in her prison unit every night.