Morning in a Different Place

Mary Ann McGuigan

Friendship with Yolanda, an African-American, is not something Fiona’s new friends will tolerate.

I told her what happened. And once I did, something changed, something about who I was.

Fiona is a child of Irish immigrants; Yolanda is black. Their friendship breaks all the rules. Compelled by financial hardship and concern about her daughter, Fiona’s mother has reunited with her husband, who struggles with alcoholism and the violence it triggers in him. Their new start offers Fiona the hope of normality and of finally being accepted by her peers. But her friendship with Yolanda is not something her new friends will tolerate, and so Fiona deceives both Yolanda and herself as she tries to make a life. When she realizes that her father is drinking again and her mother is in danger, Fiona finds that the price of acceptance—her mother’s safety and her friendship with Yolanda—is one she’s unwilling to pay. As she comes to see what is truly worth having, Fiona makes a plan to protect her mother and finds the courage to defend her friendship with Yolanda.

  • Ages: 14 - 17
  • Grades: 9 - 12
  • Pages: 176

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Recent Reviews

McGuigan is as adept at evoking the class consciousness and racial politics of '60s New York as she is the horrors of adolescence, including insecurity and helplessness. With the twin evils of domestic violence and President Kennedy's assassination looming in the background, the author's portrait of the chameleonic nature of teenage girls builds aggressively to a powerful finale.

—Kirkus Reviews

McGuigan’s writing is spare and low-key, and her metaphors are acute: When you’re not wanted somewhere, she writes, the feeling fills the place like a smell. History buffs will appreciate the visceral reminder of how much Kennedy’s beliefs meant to the black community, and how devastating was his death.


Nostalgic in both form and content ... the writing is competent, the mean-girl vibe will resonate with contemporary audiences, and the book provides a perspective on the working-class Irish-American experience during the Kennedy years.

—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

McGuigan has created rich characters and tackles several uncomfortable social issues. ... [T]he novel offers insight into a turbulent era.

—School Library Journal

Honors for Morning in a Different Place

  • New York State Reading Association—Suggested Reading List 2011-20-12
  • A Junior Library Guild Selection