One of Patsy's favorite activities is skating at Freedom Park.

That’s Just the Way It Is

Middle-grade, historical fiction

Beginning in 1960, That’s Just the Way It Is follows one year in the life of ten-year-old Patsy Dancy.  Patsy lives in Charlotte, NC which, at that time, still resembled a quiet southern town, not the bustling metropolis of today.  Patsy comes of age in a world that still believes in segregation, in protecting the secrets of family, and in wearing white gloves to church on Sunday.

Patsy faces many challenges during her year in fifth grade. She notices segregation and questions what she considers to be unfair treatment of Negroes.  She is pursued by the most notorious bully in the school.  Her father is caught in an affair that threatens the security of her family and her place in the world.  Patsy faithfully records her questions and thoughts in a red journal stored under her bed.

These questions become subjects for poetry when Patsy’s teacher assigns a year-long project in poetry.  Patsy discovers that writing helps her search for answers to her questions and gives voice to her emotions. Patsy accepts that some of her questions don’t have answers.  That’s just the way it is.  She emerges from the year much stronger and wiser, a survivor, and a writer.

In one of her poems she writes:

surprises us
from the inside and
surprises others
from the outside.

I know how to see changes
on the outside,
but how can I tell
if someone else
is changing
on the inside?

Patsy with her little sister, Angela. The front porch behind Patsy is where she and the neighborhood gang performed their summer shows.

Patsy's Aunt Annie and Uncle Mickey. They traveled from Brooklyn in New York City to spend every Christmas in NC with Patsy.

Patsy hated wearing those scratchy crinolines under her Easter dress.