by Len Lear
Avril Somerville, 44, of Glenside, an inspirational writer, speaker and author, will discuss and read from her newly published book, “A Journey Of Life On Purpose: Creativity, Love, Womanhood, Community, Race and Identity,” at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter Lane in West Mt. Airy, on Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m.
In her essays and poetry, Somerville writes about creativity, love, womanhood, community, race and identity. Her writing offers inspiration and insight on matters of purpose, creativity, meaning, empathy, etc., beyond the traditional worlds of work and career. She maintains that regardless of what we call ourselves, we all have gifts to bring that should leave the world a better place than we found it.
“I also insist strongly on sisterhood,” Avril said recently, “a circle of brilliant, kindred-soul women folk that are just as passionate about forging and maintaining authentic relationships with one another as I am, though we may or may not belong to a lettered sorority.”
If you check out customer reviews for her book, released on July 4, on amazon.com, you will find 11 customer reviews (when this article was written last week). Ten reviewers gave the book 5 stars, the highest possible rating, and the other one gave it 4 stars.
A typical review, by Lisa Sharp on Aug. 14, said: “I don’t usually write reviews for anything. However, in this case, I was moved to write about this wonderful book. It is an honest, touching and inspirational memoir that speaks to me as a black woman, wife and mother. Ms. Somerville writes from a truthful, authentic perspective, and she makes you feel as if you are sitting down and discussing life with one of your closest friends. The lyrical and poignant poetry throughout the book is something that will have you folding over the corners to read again and again.”
Born in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Caribbean, Avril is a first-generation college graduate of Swarthmore College in 1993 and Penn State University, where she received her Masters of Business Administration in 1996. In addition to the Caribbean, Avril lived in New York City, New Jersey, Virginia and Chicago before moving to our area.
Avril has a popular blog in which she has written, “I find the most fulfillment when using my gifts at the intersection of marriage, motherhood and sister-keeper to many other women in this universe. I am the mother of three remarkable souls (a beautiful and loyal teenage son and two compassionate , younger daughters). My heart’s desire is to raise them well by pouring into them love, kindness and affirming words.”
Avril taught first grade for a few years in New Jersey and every grade from K to 5 at one time or another in New Jersey, Virginia, Chicago and in the Cheltenham School District. She has also homeschooled. Her family moved here a little over three years ago due to her husband’s work.
She worked on her much-praised book over the course of three to four years. She also began a micro press, SomerEmpress Publishing, from the need to publish her book, but she will publish her own future works and those of other skilled writers that are aligned with its mission, beginning in 2016. “My target audience,” she explained, “consists of women who desire personal fulfillment amid the myriad of hats they wear. These women are intellectually curious and genuinely want to understand themselves better.”
Regarding the rave reviews on amazon.com, Avril said she is indeed humbled. “That this book resonates primarily with women readers probably means we have more in common than we thought. More than the reviews, I am most concerned about readers asking and finding answers to the following: how do they feel about their gifts, and will they make room for them? Are they more inclined toward empathy and connecting with someone in their community with whom they might not share the same experience? … That they feel sufficient enough yet still capable of personal transformation as a result of exploring some of these questions would be my greatest reward.”
Avril plans to write several more books. She has at least three in the works right now, including a novel that will debut in 2016. The person who had the greatest impact on her life was her grandmother. “Her faith was huge, her capacity for love even greater,” Avril said last week. “Memories with her loom large as I mother my own three children. Having an awesome husband of nearly 20 years makes the journey sweeter!”
When asked what writers she admires the most, Avril mentioned Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, Mari Evans, Bebe Moore Campbell, Alice Munro, James Baldwin, Khalil Gibran and Junot Diaz. In her spare time she “has date nights with my husband, read, enjoy a glass of wine and watch good independent films recommended by great friends.”
“A Journey Of Life On Purpose” is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. More information at about.me/avrilsomerville. More information about Saturday’s appearance at 215-844-1870.