Read Like African American Read-In Author Debbie Rigaud

Written by Joe Armstrong, Content Specialist, Marketing, Downtown Main Library

This Saturday, Feb. 19, author Debbie Rigaud visits the Groesbeck Branch Library, opens a new window for the next event in the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library’s month-long African American Read-In.

Debbie spoke with the Library about her book, Simone Breaks All the Rules, which she'll read read excerpts from at the event, and shared how you can "Read Like: Debbie Rigaud."

Share with us some more information about your novel, Simone Breaks All the Rules?

Debbie Rigaud: "Simone Breaks All the Rules", my latest book, is a Young Adult book about a Haitian American teen. She is a kid of immigrants and her parents have lovingly wrapped her in an over-protective cocoon. She wants to break out of it and be the social butterfly she’s always been meant to be. So she teams up with her late-bloomer friends and together they craft a senior year bucket list to do all the things that they don’t want to miss out on so they can graduate on their own terms.

Simone Breaks All the Rules celebrates Haitian American culture and heritage through the main character’s and her parents' backgrounds. You've said the character’s childhood is something you relate to because your parents emigrated from Haiti to Brooklyn. Why did you choose to write about and highlight that experience?

Debbie Rigaud: While it comes with many strict rules, I wanted to highlight the joy of being raised in Haitian culture. I wanted to show that there were a lot of great times and bonding growing up in that kind of family. But there’s also an urgency to take charge of your own life and practice having agency over your life because that is part of growing up and breaking out on your own.

It tends to be embarrassing when you can’t sleepover at a friend’s house or you have to make up excuses, even as a high school student like Simone, who was 17 in the novel. It’s a time in our lives when we all want to make our own way and exercise our own agency in life. I thought that was a great way to address those themes in a very relatable way since I’m been through it.

Some of the familiar themes in your writing include finding your own voice and reclaiming agency. Share why you’ve chosen to include these ideas in your writing.

Debbie Rigaud: I always felt like one theme in my writing was breaking out of your comfort zone. There are so many rewards in life for people who break out of their comfort zones. As you go through high school and college you start getting a lot of “no’s” and it gets so much harder to try new things and so much more seems uncomfortable. So, a lot of my story themes always go back to that, because it serves as a reminder not only to readers but to myself to keep branching out and going places where it might be a little scary but are very rewarding.

Read Like: Debbie Rigaud

Learn more about author Debbie Rigaud with these rapid-fire questions. Ranging from where she likes to read to the never-ending dog-ear vs. bookmark debate, take a look at how you can Read Like: Debbie Rigaud.

Reading at home or out and about?

Reading at home.

Fiction or nonfiction?

Tough one, but I’ll go with fiction.

Quick reads or long burns?

Quick reads.

Bestsellers or debut titles?

Debut titles.

Book club or reading solo?

Going solo. (I’m a slow reader!)

Comfy chair or park bench?

Comfy chair – it's winter!

Read at dawn or midnight reader?

Middle of the night.

Bookmark or dog-ear?


Background music or silent focus?

Background music.

Writing with pen and paper or computer?

I prefer pen and paper, but since I’m always in a rush I often use a computer.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading XOXO, opens a new window, a great YA novel by Axie Oh. I always read fun things for my kids, my daughter is reading Ways to Make Sunshine, opens a new window and my son loves the same book over and over again and right now he’s stuck on If You Give a Mouse a Brownie, opens a new window by Laura Joffe Numeroff.

Get the latest information from Debbie Rigaud by following her on Instagram, opens a new window and visiting her website, opens a new window.

Attend CHPL’s African American Read-In Events

Hear from local Black authors every weekend in February at CHPL. Featured authors will read from their works and share their experiences as authors. Each event will also include activities and books available for purchase from each author.

Check out our online events calendar, opens a new window, for more Black History Month events at the Library.