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Terp Writer’s Corner: Toni Andrews ‘82

Terp Writer’s Corner: Toni Andrews ‘82

Photo collage of Sam Jane '26, Olabasi Omoniyi-Alake ’24, Vainavi Gambhir ‘25, Nelson Chen ‘24 and Ella Williams '26 - Alumni Association Scholarship Recipients

By Noor Qureshi '25

Toni Andrews ‘82, author of “The Road To Second Chance”, pulls from familial and American history in her latest novel. Andrews explores themes of forgiveness, patriotism, and much more. Read on to learn more about about her, her inspiration, and about her novel!

Describe your book.

Enter the small town of Second Chance, West Virginia in 1962, where the enchanting landscape belies the poverty of a dying coal town and tragedy shatters the idyllic life of young Laney Mae Martin. When her father dies in a fatal car crash alongside another woman, Laney Mae's life spirals into disarray. Her bitter mother, Faye, uproots Laney Mae and her older brother Neal from their familiar surroundings to the D.C. suburbs. Branded as "hillbillies" in the suburbs, she endures merciless mockery and emotional scars inflicted by a deranged housekeeper and abusive stepfather. Amidst the chaos, Laney Mae finds solace in a portrait of President Kennedy, pouring out her heart and conjuring an idealized father figure. As she navigates an era of assassinations and racial discord, the scars of her past shadow her adulthood and challenges her role as a parent. With her mother's terminal diagnosis, Laney Mae's desperate search for truth takes an unexpected turn. Embark on a poignant journey as Laney Mae unravels secrets, confronts grief, and seeks forgiveness--a second chance that holds the power to heal. This captivating tale of love, resilience, and redemption will grip your heart and leave you pondering the enduring strength of the human spirit.

What, or who was your inspiration?

I was inspired by my father's life. He was the grandson of a coal miner in a small town in West Virginia [and grew up] very poor ( he grew up in the Depression-era). I was also aware of and impacted by the traumatic era of America in the 1960s up to 9/11 and wanted to build a story about a family overcoming loss and finding hope to go forward set against the backdrop of national unrest with assassinations, racial discord, and Vietnam.

What is the #1 item you want people to take away from your story?

Repairing our relationships in families and in our highly polarized country requires forgiveness (the "second chance" in my title) and healing. My story is unabashedly patriotic because that spirit of common purpose has historically served us well. In the end, my story is about seeking the light on the darkest of days, wherever we can find that light and often, it is within ourselves.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

Definitely consider independent publishing as an option to get your work out there!

What book is on your nightstand right now?

Mine! Plus “Happiness Falls” by Angie Kim.

What is your favorite book?

“Where The Red Fern Grows”.

What do you do in your non-writing free time?

Work in government and community relations, and spend time with family.

What is your favorite alumni event or experience?

Getting Coach Gary Williams to come to speak at a business group I was involved with.

As a student, what was your favorite spot on campus?

The [McKeldin] lawn area and visiting Testudo.

What's your Fearless Idea?

That writing can change the way people see the world.


Publication of this article does not imply an endorsement by the Alumni Association.


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