The new children’s book The Night Is Yours by Abdul-Razak Zachariah captures a snapshot of life growing up in an apartment complex. This is Zachariah’s first book, and it’s based loosely on his childhood -- with his sister as inspiration for the main character. He and his family lived in Terrace Heights, an apartment complex in West Haven, Connecticut.
About the community Zachariah grew up in:
"It was a pretty diverse community. I grew up with a lot of different children of immigrants, including myself, a lot of children of color and people of varying working class and lower-middle class income. The apartment complex had a huge courtyard and an open space where all the kids would play in the afternoon and during the summers."
"It's the kind of space that I think should be available to a lot of kids. If they don't have a courtyard, then they should have a park near their home. It allowed us to all interact and see the lives that we had with each other in an open and shared space."
About upending negative stereotypes around apartment complexes:
"One of the biggest things when I was growing up was the assumption that apartment complexes and densely populated living spaces in urban areas can be very dangerous, and I didn't experience that with my apartments. I experienced a lot of light and vibrancy and adults and older teenagers offering their advice and guidance to younger kids, and it seemed like an intergenerational space for growth and opportunity and development. ... That's the narrative that I wanted to share about apartment complexes in its most ideal form."
What Zachariah hopes people take away from his book:
"I really hope that they see the value in black children altogether ... but seeing the value in sharing space with your neighbors and really engaging and watching over each other's children. Not parenting someone else's child, but rather seeing and supporting their own growth and development."