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When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune

(Shayla Dubois #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  307 ratings  ·  46 reviews
So I just made another note to add to my blue notebook later, when the house had cooled off: Tia's nature is boiling out of her like hot soup out of a pot, and Kambia Elaine just flew in from Neptune. Shayla Dubois lives in a Houston neighborhood known as the Bottom, where life is colorful but never easy. She wants only two things out of life: to become a writer and to hav ...more
Paperback, 246 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  307 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Sarah Sullivan
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Gorgeous compelling book. I cared about Shayla, her family and Kambia from the beginning, and the portrait of the friendship that emerges between the two girls is perfectly captured. Everyday indignities, like Shayla's story being rejected from a writing contest because she used street talk are given their deserved weight, and the horrible secrets that are revealed aren't lost into melodrama. The language in the book is exceptional (lines like "pain is running from our faucets like tap water" pe ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Hm. Reading back on this as an adult, you can definitely tell that the author made a lot of Interesting Choices but there were some good ones here too! I don't think I really like the style of writing but it was readable. I'm still just REALLY gagging over the fact that the 15 year old girl was being preyed on by a 23 year old man and everyone just shrugged their shoulders over it as if we didn't see what that kind of grooming can do to somebody through Kambia ... Again ... so many choices and 7 ...more
Danielle Conner
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was intense from the day i picked it up till the day i put it down. i believe that this was an amazing book and is now one of my favorites. Through Lori Aurelia Williams use of descriptive diction and use of literary devices i felt as if i was walking through the same problems as Shayla was. I could tell when Shayla meant that she lived in the "bottom", and she literally means she lives in the bottom in society. The characters were explained so well that i knew exactly what each ones p ...more
Belated review. This was a solid book, with some great characters and vivid writing. It's children's lit edging on YA, but didn't talk down to the audience. (Though, the storyline of "what's happening to Kambia" was of course very obvious to the adult reader, and it's very very painful and very hard to read). I enjoyed how the neighbourhood was its own character as well, in lots of little ways.
Sep 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Honestly, I expected more out of this book than what i got. Once you get to the middle of the story the plot is pretty much flat and I felt I had to push myself to read on and finish the book.
Kambia J.
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is AMAZING. I've read it about 3 times. I never cease to cry after reading it each time. I recommend you read the "sequel" to it.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few favorite quotes and descriptions from this book - describing a character as someone whose "cornbread wasn't quite done in the middle".... "feather duster quiet".... "slick as okra grin"... "As useless as wheat flour with weevils" ... "I stewed on her words for a minute, turning the words over in my head--like a ham bone in a pot of navy beans."

Wonderful characters! I'm eager to read the sequel.
Aimee Massey
You can kind of tell this is a first novel. It's not at all a bad book, but I think a more ruthless editor should have worked on it.
Shayla's character is quite likable and mostly believable. However I found her to be awfully naive for twelve, especially coming from a rough neighborhood like she does. The trope of the disadvantaged child who wants to be a writer is kind of overdone, and in my mind is kind of a symptom of first-novel-itis.
Tia's character was probably the most believable of the bun
Jun 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
The story is about a girl named Shayla Dubois who lives in a Houston neighborhood called the Bottom. She lives a life that suddenly went terrible when her sister got kicked out of her house and her father, Anderson Fox, came back home spending a lot of time with her mother. Also, Shayla encountered a new, yet strange neighbor named Kambia Elaine. Kambia tells Shayla about strange creatures like Lizard People, Memory Beetles and Wallpaper Wolves that prey after little girls. But beyond their stor ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it liked it
In her debut novel, Lori Aurelia Williams creates a very convincing and empathetic voice for Shayla, her 12-year-old narrator. Shayla is a bright, creative girl trying to puzzle out life in an economically disadvantaged part of Texas called the "Bottom". Like many first novels, this one attempts to take on several big issues (including racism, learning disabilities, and sexual abuse), and mostly succeeds. Initially, I was really frustrated at Shayla for not being able to identify the horrors tha ...more
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Initially when I started reading this book I was not particularly impressed, but it slowly grew on me. If I hadn’t committed to reading it for the challenge, I’m not sure that I would have continued, but I’m glad I did. It’s not a book I would have chosen to read at the age it was marketed to, but it would have been a good one for school!

Shayla felt naïve to me reading as an adult, but that may be that’s the 20/20 hindsight perspective on the book. There are some concepts that are tackled that I
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
"When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune" is a novel that was extremely enjoyable to read. Shayla, the protagonist, experiences what it means to grow up in Houston as a young teenage female. She wants to become a writer, however, both her father, who is rarely in her life, and her mother don't believe writing will get her anywhere in life. Shayla's life takes a turn for the worst when her older sister, Tia, goes missing after her mother becomes upset because of her relationship with her 23-year ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
Jun 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 12, 2014 is currently reading it
This book so far is amazing I have not read any books by Lori Aurelia Williams but I might start. In her book titled "When Kambia Elaine Flew In From Neptune" the main character Shayla lives in the poorer low town party of Texas with her Mama and her older sister Tia. In the beginning there is a huge conflict between Mama and Tia about Tia and being sexually active. Shayla gets caught in the crossfire. Over the summer a girl moved in next door to them about Shayla's age. Shayla meets and talks t ...more
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 11th-grade
This book takes place in a black neighborhood in Houston. This story revolves around the character Shayla who encounters family issues while being introduced to a weird girl who is her next door neighbor, Kambia. Shayla becomes Kambia's only friend and is slowly let into the details of her life that shocks the whole neighborhood. Shayla is a straight A's student, being raised by her mother single-handed, while her father is off with other woman in the neighborhood. Her sister falls in love with ...more
Rhea Meadows
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Rhea by: my mommy
this book is so0o0o0o GOOD! im not finish reading it but i have a couple of pages left to read. Kambia is a girl who's mother opens her house for a prade of men [thats how she pays the rent] shayla is the main character in this book! her sister tia goes missing because there mother does not approve of her dumb-founded 23 year old boyfriend! Kambia makes up fairytale stories so no one will guess what is really going on with her. one part of the book i really enojoy'd was when she tells shayla abo ...more
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shayla has dreams of being a writer, not a typical dream for a girl living on the poor side of Houston. Her single mom and her sister Tia have had a monumental fight, resulting in Tia's moving out. Her rarely seen father moves in, eating what little is in the fridge and playing pool rather than finding work. And next door is skinny, odd Kambia, with her fantasy stories and a mom who entertains different men every night.
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
You know how little kids learn how to do somersaults, and then they always want to show you how they can do a somersault, regardless of whether or not you are in a place where a somersault is appopropriate? That's kind of how I felt about this author's use of language in her book. Just because you know a metaphor doesn't mean you should use a metaphor. Also, I found the main character to be too "young" for her age, and it distracted me.
Liyah T.
Oct 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I actually enjoyed this book. I probably would have never read a book like this but it was the first page that pulled me in and engaged me. it made me want to read more. I finished the book in about one week thats how good it was. i would really recommend this book to people who like to read books about broken homes and familys(some-what relatable storys). It was really good.
Dec 21, 2016 marked it as to-read

When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune by Lori Aurelia Williams | at their cores stories of children who are forced to grow up too fast. They tell of violence in the household, the effects of poverty, experiences of racism, and above all the way that two friends can carry each other along. #comingofage #factsoflife #fiction
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most beautiful thing about this book are the sentences Shayla writes in her journal. Williams captures the voice of the burgeoning writer perfectly. This haunting story will stay with you for a long time.
Oct 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was one of the best books i ever read. it had alot of ups and downs which kept me interested in it, but at times it did get a little boring. Overall i liked the book alot. I would tell a friend about it.
LaQuita Stewart
I think this book was really good. it had a good beginning and it made you think about was going to happen next. it had a plot and it was like all different kinds of stories that lead to 1 big story. i would recommend this book
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Delightful! A coming-of-age story unlike any I have ever read before. And the author puts together the best sentences I have ever read. (I wish I knew how to say this better.)
Daja Dynasty
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is seriously one of the best books I've ever read. Being one that loves romance and nothing else can catch my attention, this book was enthralling. You'll fall into Kambia's imagination and fall in love with her struggle. Five stars!
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well written story.
Kristy Mcghee
Jan 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book was awkward and slow. I didn't care too much for the author's writing style. It's nice to read if there is nothing to do
Jasmine Jones
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
i just started reading it..
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book was really confusing in the begging but at the end you will find out why.
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This one will fuck you up yo.
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Though Lori Aurelia Williams adored reading as a child, she never thought she’d be a writer when she grew up. While studying English at the University of Texas at Austin, she departed from the traditional lecture and composition courses and took a creative writing class on whim. Through that class, she learned she loved and had a gift for storytelling. For her fiction, which combines African-Ameri ...more

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