Road Trip Reads Giveaway (New York): The Light on Halsey Street by Vanessa Miller

Posted September 4, 2023 by meezcarrie in Christian, contemporary, giveaway, Road Trip Reads Giveaway 2023, Vanessa Miller, women's fiction / 38 Comments

today’s book: The Light on Halsey Street by Vanessa Miller

We’ve made it through all 50 states on the pages of recently released books in our summer-long Road Trip Reads Giveaway! It’s been really interesting to see where some of you have been (and live!) and where you haven’t been. Some fun facts about our reading road trip:

  • Alaska is the state that the least of you have visited (but Vermont came in a very close second)
  • Illinois is the state that the most of you have visited (but Missouri was a close second).

Road trips really are better with friends – and books – and we’ve got one final stop on our journey. So grab your fave snacks, a cold soda or bottled water, an upbeat playlist and let’s head to the Big Apple!

today’s stop: New York


The Light on Halsey Street by Vanessa MillerTHE LIGHT ON HALSEY STREET by Vanessa Miller
GENRE: Contemporary Women’s Fiction (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: September 5, 2023
PAGES: 363

Two girls’ lives are irrevocably intertwined the summer of 1985 in the streets of Brooklyn, New York, and neither will ever be the same in this coming-of-age story that spans decades.

In the summer of 1985, Lisa Whitaker is a church kid headed to college on a scholarship while her best friend, Dana, is floundering in the wake of her mother’s latest eviction. Though Lisa tries to help, their paths diverge. Fifteen years later, Lisa has a beautiful family and is stepping into her dream job as the director for a social services organization. Everything is going right—until her future is snatched away by identity theft. Her life begins to unravel, and Lisa wants nothing more than to see the woman responsible pay for her crimes.

When she was a teenager, Dana Jones always felt alone in this world. Her mother was addicted to drugs, her boyfriend was entering a life of crime, and it seemed Dana, too, was heading down the wrong path. The only bright light was her friendship with Lisa. Now, in the new millennium, Dana finally gives herself permission to dream—to believe she is stepping into better days. But when the betrayal of their friendship comes to light, it will take a lifetime to forgive the destruction that youthful summer in Bed-Stuy set in motion.

In this latest story from beloved author Vanessa Miller, two girls from the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, find that their paths have been woven together by the love of community and a friendship that is tested by time, betrayal, and unforgiveness.



I wish I could go back and change everything about the sum- mer of 1985. I honestly believe the root of my discontent was fertilized that summer and has been growing in me ever since. Oh, the things I could have done . . . the life I could have led, if I had only made better decisions.


JULY 1985

With a twenty-dollar bill burning a hole in the pocket of Dana Jones’ cutoff jeans, which she had turned into shorts with fringe hanging below her butt, Dana slipped her bam- boo earrings on. These things were her prized possession because her name was engraved in the imitation gold across the midpoint of each earring.

She was about to leave the apartment to go downtown with her girls, Lisa Whitaker and Jasmine Parks. She’d been cooped up since graduating from Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, New York, last month.

But somewhere between the quiet in the house and “Pretty Young Thing” being blasted from a boom box out- side, Dana tensed. Tensed as fear crept up her spine and lodged in her heart.


It was always loud in her house, like noise would drown out the pain of stolen dreams. Her mother, Vida, would blast ’70s music on her old record player in their basement apart- ment when the owners of the brownstone, who lived in the main part of the house, were at work during the day—that is, before her mom pawned the record player a few weeks ago.

Dana was used to loud. The quiet of the past weeks caused her knees to shake like she’d been cornered by a stick-up kid after her hair-braiding money.

“Ma, I’m heading out. You want me to bring you some- thing back?”

Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, Dana combed through her asymmetrical bob–style haircut and parted it so her bamboo earring could be seen. She rubbed in suntan lotion on her face and arms. Her olive complexion was too light to be in the sun without sunscreen. Looking in the mirror, Dana’s hazel eyes lit up, like beauty was everywhere and ugly didn’t exist in the world.

She put her comb on the sink and walked down the hall toward her mother’s bedroom. The last time Vida was non- responsive, she’d had a seizure and had to be rushed to the hospital so they could pump the drugs from her mother’s system. Dana’s heart thump-thumped inside her chest as she knocked on her mother’s bedroom door, then tried the knob. It was unlocked.

Her mother was lying on her back with her arms stretched out on the bed. Dana hesitated. No chest movement. No snoring either. Her mom normally snored when sleeping on her back.

“Ma! Ma!” Thump-thump. Dana’s hand went to her heart as she forced herself forward. She touched her mother’s shoulder and shook it.

Vida growled and then put the pillow over her head. She turned her back to Dana. “Go away. I’m tired.”

Tired was better than dead. Tired was better than a sei- zure. Dana had watched her mother fight her demons since her boyfriend introduced her to cocaine. Dana’s chest heaved as she sucked in air and then blew it out. Tired was good. She backed out of her mother’s room and left her alone.

As Dana left her apartment, she found Lisa and Jasmine waiting for her next to the stoop. The heat hit her like hot grease popping at a fish fry. Sweat beaded on her forehead as they headed for the subway on Fulton Street between Lewis and Stuyvesant avenues. “Dang. It’s hot out here.”

“I’m dripping like a faucet,” Lisa, her best friend since first grade, said.

When they reached the station, they went down the stairs, deposited their tokens and then hopped on the A Train.

“Man, I get so sick of standing up every time I get on this train,” Jasmine complained.

Dana and Jasmine became cool in tenth grade. Lisa couldn’t hang out as much back then because she was always at the library on Lewis and Macon, keeping them grades up so she could get a scholarship.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and the subway was packed. People going here and there, basically anywhere in the five boroughs, but today, Dana and her friends were headed to the Loew’s Metropolitan Theatre in downtown Brooklyn to see Back to the Future, starring Michael J. Fox.

“I’m glad to be on this train. I almost had to bail on y’all,” Lisa said. “My dad was tripping because I didn’t do the dishes, so he was holding up my allowance.”

“At least you get an allowance. I had to braid all three of Mrs. Lilly’s kids’ hair to get twenty dollars. And I couldn’t complain because my mom is late on the rent again.” Dana and her mom had been staying in the basement apartment of Mrs. Lilly and Michael James’ brownstone for six months.

Dana seriously doubted they would make it a whole year before getting evicted.

“Well, we’re out today, and didn’t nobody stop us.” Jasmine held on tight to the handrail above as the train sped underground, heading toward their destination.

The train stopped at Jay Street. The moment the doors opened, a whoosh of hot, humid air blew in their faces. A mixture of urine and body odor assaulted Dana’s nostrils. Nothing like a New York subway station.

Dana held her breath until she and her girls reached the stairs leading out to Jay Street. They exited the train station, then went left, headed toward Loew’s movie theater at the corner of Fulton and Jay Street. It was 2:20 p.m. and the movie started at 2:30 p.m., so they had to hustle.

“Do any of these people ever stay home?” Jasmine pushed her way through the crowd.

Jasmine was always complaining about how crowded it was in the city. Dana was surprised she agreed to go to the movies because she knew they would have to go downtown. “We’ll be at the theater in a minute. Once you’re watching the movie, you’ll forget all about the crowd out here.”

“Or . . .” Jasmine lifted her arms, trying to get elbow room as they continued walking down the street. “The lookie-loos can get out of our town and go home.”

Lisa told her, “We will always have tourists, so get over it.” They entered the movie theater and purchased tickets. “I’m getting some popcorn.” Dana got in line for the snacks.

“I want some candy.” Lisa got in the line too. Once they had their snacks, they went to the theater where Back to the Future was being shown and sat down.

After several laughs and some high-flying, futuristic skateboarding, the movie ended, and the three of them headed to The Wiz because Jasmine wanted to buy an album. “I’m running out of money,” Dana complained. “I need to go to McCrory’s and get my toiletries, so I can’t get any- thing at The Wiz.”

“Girl, we’ll go to McCrory’s with you. Come with me to The Wiz. My mom asked me to pick up ‘Raspberry Beret’ since we were coming downtown,” Jasmine told her.

“Prince’s new record?” Lisa’s eyes popped as if Prince was standing in front of the electronics store waiting on her. “Let me at it.”

“Y’all acting like Prince is everything. What about New Edition with ‘Mr. Telephone Man’? Now, that’s a record I really want.” Dana stood outside the store. She looked up at the sign, which read “Nobody Beats the Wiz.” Those words were a jingle in all the store’s commercials.

Dana normally avoided The Wiz when she came down- town because walking in the store and viewing all the televisions and stereo systems only reminded her their floor-model television was broken. It weighed two hundred pounds, so she and her mother couldn’t lift it to take it to a repair shop. And her mother had pawned the nineteen-inch television, so there was nothing to do at home but listen to the radio or read a book.

Her mother worked at the soul-food restaurant a few blocks from their apartment, but they kept cutting her hours. So, even if they could lift the floor-model TV, they didn’t have extra money to fix it, and if they did, her moth- er’s boyfriend would find a way to spend it on things they didn’t need.

The three friends opened the door and went inside. Televisions lined the shelves. Dana tried her best to ignore them and the stereo systems that blasted music throughout the store. They passed by the camera station, then took the stairs to check out the records on the second floor.

Dana glanced back, longing in her eyes as she watched a woman standing at the camera counter holding a Minolta X-700. She had begged her mother to buy the camera for Christmas during her sophomore year in high school. Dana wanted to take up scrapbooking and use the camera to make a photographic record of her final years in high school. She kept waiting, believing she’d have the camera under the Christmas tree, but she graduated from high school last month, with no scrapbook.

Lisa pointed at the New Edition poster hanging on the wall in the record section. “Look, Dana. There’re your boys.”

Dana turned toward the poster and smiled. “Love me some Bobby Brown. Yes, ‘Mr. Telephone Man.’”

“You don’t need to be loving nobody but me.”

Dana heard the deep, silky voice. She put her hand on the railing to steady herself as she turned to the left and saw Derrick Little. Derrick had a high-top fade and to-die-for dimples. His light-brown eyes blended nicely with his choco- late skin tone. She and Derrick had been seeing each other for a couple of months. He lived in Marcy Projects with his grandmother.

Derrick had on a blue jean jacket with matching jeans and a pair of blue-and-red Pro-Keds. The sneakers were old and worn out. Derrick was always fresh, so it surprised her to see him in a pair of run-down shoes. He wiped some sweat from his forehead as he moved closer to her.

As her girls rushed over to the record section and began thumbing through the records, Dana finished her climb up the stairs and walked with Derrick to the R & B section.

“Why do you have on a jacket? It’s too hot and humid in this city to be wearing all those clothes.”

He tugged on either side of the jacket, then opened it so she could see the big pockets inside. “These are my work clothes.”

“What kind of job makes you wear blue jeans with a jacket?” She pointed to his forehead. “You’re sweating like crazy.”

He laughed at her as he stood in front of a stack of records, fingered his way through the stack, then pulled one out. “You want ‘Mr. Telephone Man,’ right?”

Yes, of course she did, but she didn’t have anything to play it on. “My mom sold our record player, so you don’t have to buy the record.”

“Got an extra record player at my place. I’ll bring it to you later.”

Her eyes lit up. “You’d really do that for me?”

“I got you, girl. Now, move a little to the left for me.” Dana stepped to the left.

“A little more.”

Once she was in the spot he wanted her in, Derrick took the record and quickly shoved it in the inside pocket of his jacket.

Dana whispered, “What are you doing?” while glancing around.

“Don’t make it look obvious. I needed you to stand in front of me so the camera wouldn’t catch my movements. Play it cool, and we’ll be good.”

Vanessa Miller, The Light on Halsey Street
Thomas Nelson © 2023. Used by permission.

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Vanessa Miller

Vanessa Miller is a bestselling author, with several books appearing on ESSENCE Magazine’s Bestseller List. She has also been a Black Expressions Book Club alternate pick and #1 on BCNN/BCBC Bestseller List. Most of Vanessa’s published novels depict characters who are lost and in need of redemption. The books have received countless favorable reviews: “Heartwarming, drama-packed and tender in just the right places” (Romantic Times book review) and “Recommended for readers of redemption stories” (Library Journal). Visit her online at

The Light on Halsey Street giveaway

Vanessa Miller is offering a print copy of The Light on Halsey Street to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What makes you want to read The Light on Halsey Street by Vanessa Miller? Have you ever visited New York?

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38 responses to “Road Trip Reads Giveaway (New York): The Light on Halsey Street by Vanessa Miller

  1. What a great idea this summer state tour of authors has been! Thank you, MeezCarrie!

    As a close neighbor to New York State (I live in New Jersey), I have a special affinity for my wonderful neighbor. The fact that this story is set in New York especially intrigues me for that reason. But even more so, I would love to know more about the relationship between these two childhood friends and the direction it took. I look forward to reading this book!

  2. Carl

    I’ve never been to New York, except to change planes. My wife’s taking a trip there with a friend tomorrow, I’ll definitely go sometime. Thanks

  3. Anne

    I have visited New York. This book sounds captivating, unforgettable, meaningful and a real treasure which I would enjoy greatly.

  4. Stephanie H.

    I have visited New York before and would love to go back again someday. This book sounds like a gripping and enjoyable read!

  5. Regina

    I’ve never been to New York but I’d love to go there someday. I’d also love go visit New Jersey and Vermont. I was surprised it was the least visited state. I love the idea of a coming of age storyline that spans decades. I’m curious how if turns out.

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