PJ Devlin tells stories about relationships. Her characters meet at the intersection of acceptance and rejection and their choices impel them to understand what it means to be human. Whether writing of a witch, a dwarf, an elderly woman, white and black teenagers, or a black indentured servant, Devlin's characters exist in the Philadelphia of her birth and share her love of the Wissahickon Creek.
WISSAHICKON SOULS, an historical novel set in the Philadelphia area in the early 19th century, is a story of love, regret and reconciliation. Claire Penniman, black and female, is an unlikely hero who rejects racial expectations. Claire's story fills a gap in American memory that marginalizes 19th century African American lives. Readers who love to enter a time and place where they walk alongside characters they get to know as friends will enjoy this novel. Though Claire's world defines a person by the color of his or her skin, Claire's destiny is to bear witness to the truth that illuminates the color of souls.
After she meets nineteen-year-old Ishmael, Joni Byrnes stops caring about home, school and swim team. Instead, she embraces Ishmael's hippy lifestyle of music, pot and Herman Hesse. When she sells marijuana for Ishmael, Joni gains notoriety as Joni Juana -- but her newfound popularity ends in a bust. While Ishmael goes to prison, Joni avoids juvie when she agrees to spend the summer of 1969 at Camp Saint Augustine of Hippo. As the only white counselor, she's greeted with -- "You couldn't find no crackers to save?" In a year marked by the Viet Nam War, pressure for civil rights, Helter Skelter, the first moonwalk and three days of peace and music at Woodstock, Joni's choices dictate her future. BECOMING JONIKA is a novel about coming-of-age during a year of cultural upheaval and re-imagination of the American dream. At its heart, it's a story of alienation, acceptance and accountability.
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Wishes, Sins and the Wissahickon Creek
This is a collection of short stories set on the outskirts of Philadelphia. These stories resonate with the power of recognition and remembrance. Devlin's characters may slip as they maneuver life's torments but their journeys through the unmapped terrains of their lives lead them to the refuge of acceptance and reconciliation. WISHES, SINS AND THE WISSAHICKON CREEK was named as as a finalist for the 12th Annual NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARDS for SHORT STORIES.