Any Other Place

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Thisbe Nissen

Second Advisor

Danielle Evans

Third Advisor

Dr. Meghann Meeusen

Fourth Advisor

Dr. John Saillant


fiction, young adult, racial justice, Black Lives Matter, identity, and activism


Any Other Place is a literary fiction coming-of-age novel told through a first-person narrative. This project is an exploration of narrative voice, writing process, genre, and audience. At its core, Any Other Place is a story about a young girl trying to find herself, while growing up in an environment that requires such an intense duality that she does not truly feel like she belongs in any of the spaces she occupies. In her quest for belonging in these spaces (and her subsequent quest for identity), she will discover truths about herself that will be difficult—but necessary—to accept. This novel takes the traditional coming-of-age story and intertwines it with an unfiltered tale of Black Girlhood, as understood through the context of racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Set in the suburbs of Detroit, Any Other Place is the story of Maleah Dunn, a 15-year-old high school student who longs to fit in with her classmates. But as one of the few Black students in an all-white school, she keeps finding herself sticking out. Especially after a violent altercation involving her classmate, Derrick Eddy, whom she believes to be the victim of a racial hate crime. But in order to prove it, she’ll have to give up on her goal of fitting in, and accept all that comes with her identity—specifically, being different when she feels so much pressure to be the same—even as school administrators try to stop her attempts to both get justice for Derrick, and to create a safe space for all the non-white students at school. Meanwhile, Maleah’s own complicated background—including an evolving sexual identity, and her nuanced understanding of her place as a Black girl growing up in a mostly white, mostly hostile environment—may end up being the most important obstacle she has to overcome.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Abstract Only

Restricted to Campus until


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