lisa t cresswell lisa t cresswell lisa t cresswell

Hush Puppy

Hush Puppy

If you want to be happy, be.
   —Leo Tolstoy

Hush Puppy is the story of Corrine Lamb, a seventeen year old black girl, and Jamie Armstrong, a poor white boy, living in a backwater North Carolina town. Intelligent Corrine, abandoned by her mother, and artsy Jamie, forced to play football by a redneck father, both dream of leaving their podunk town and never looking back.

Their shared love of literature and a dream of a better life brings them together and a romance blossoms between them in a secret place of their own in the steamy North Carolina woods. When Jamie is involved in the accidental death of a white girl, he's terrified of his abusive father. Corrine takes the blame to protect Jaime, with dire consequences for herself and her dreams of the future. Her life in danger, Corrine's left wondering if Jamie ever cared about her at all.

The events surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin underscore how prevalent fear and hate still is in our country. Sadly, many of the themes explored in Hush Puppy are extremely relevant to today's youth. It's my hope that Hush Puppy is a story not only about poverty and race, but about hope, friendship, and the power of love.

Read an excerpt
Listen to the playlist
Check out the Hush Puppy Pinterest page
Grab the book discussion questions
Meet Lisa at an event

Amazon Barnes & Noble


"Set in a small town in North Carolina, Hush Puppy is a wonder of a book. Lisa T. Cresswell's writing is simple and clean and clearly evokes the emotional expectations of teenage romance and the tense nature of high school. Encompassing a wide array of thematic concepts, Hush Puppy provides ample fodder for discussion and would be perfect food for thought for parents and teenagers."
   —Luisa LaFleur, The Children's Book Review (read the full review)

"So it's not every day I get the chance to read books that feature black female protagonists that embody an honest and true character in YA. Most likely the writer over exaggerates how black teenage girls act, often resulting to finger snapping, head bobbing and poor choice of language. Now I'm not saying a lot of black girls DON'T act this way; I for one can't end my day without bobbing my head when my boyfriend annoys me but that is often just one black experience, there are sooooo many different experiences from the life of a black teenager, but for some reason people always go with the generic. Luckily, the author of this book chose to explore the life of a bookish girl from the rural South, who was more like me than she wasn't. I'm so glad I read this book! I started it yesterday and finished it in the same night!!! I wish there were more books offering different experiences from characters of color, (not even just black) because this by far was one the best books I read this year!"
   —Libertad Araceli, Twinja Book Reviews (read the full review)

"References to The Bard abound in Hush Puppy, from Jamie's nickname, to the scenes set in their high school English class, in which Corrine and Jamie are both asked to read lines from Romeo and Juliet. Cresswell is strategic in assigning her characters roles from the play which nicely underscore their predicament; at one point Corrine must play Juliet opposite the white star of the high school football team, with whom she's never seen eye to eye; and he is a mismatched Romeo indeed. What follows is one of the book's most tender moments, in which Jamie publicly confesses his love for her, thinly veiled as literary analysis. 'Juliet is wishing Romeo wasn't a Montague,' he says, 'and Romeo is telling her he'll be anything she wants.'
This leads, ultimately, to the book's major dramatic question: Can love flourish between two teens, one black and one white, in a place like High Rock? Or will their circumstances send Corrine and Jamie the way of Romeo and Juliet? While the answers to their predicament may strike older readers as tidy, this does not detract from the pleasures of the narrative. In Hush Puppy, Cresswell has created an endearing female protagonist whose plight softly echoes that of Juliet's in a briskly-paced drama with plenty of heart."
   —Ana Reyes, Southern Literary Review (read the full review)