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‘Monkeys taste like chocolate’

Lugoff woman’s book inspired by late daughter

Posted: May 23, 2014 2:27 p.m.
Updated: May 26, 2014 5:00 a.m.

People cope with the loss of a loved one in different ways. A Lugoff woman whose 10-year-old daughter died suddenly in October 2011 following an asthma attack channeled her grief into writing a book. Melissa Stover said she always had an interest in writing, but the passing of her daughter, Carissa, inspired her to pen the children’s book, “Monkeys Taste Like Chocolate.”

Stover held a special book signing and read the book aloud to second-grade teacher Faith Hatcher’s class on Thursday at Blaney Elementary School (BES) in Elgin, where Carissa had been a student. Carissa’s stepbrother, Jalen Burns, is in the class.

“I wrote it about four or five months after Carissa passed away. I’ve always written but never really did anything with it. I’ve never really shared that talent with a lot of people,” Stover said. “I was writing to kind of heal and then I thought, ‘I’m going to write a book.’ Carissa always told us that monkeys taste like chocolate. Carissa was just a big spirit in a little body. She did everything outside of the box.”

“Monkeys Taste Like Chocolate,” published by Tate Publishing of Mustang, Okla., tells the tale of a girl named Grace who loved to dream about monkeys every night. Grace had nightly adventures with the monkeys and even wrote about them in her school papers, which didn’t always please her teacher. Grace fell and hit her head, which left her unconscious, dreaming about the monkeys full time.

In the dream, Grace convinced a group of lions not to eat the monkeys by offering them an alternative, a handful of cocoa beans, which is what chocolate is made of. In gratitude, the king of the monkeys told Grace he had the power to keep her with them forever, but she realized she missed her family and wanted to return to them, but she could still visit the monkeys in her dreams. Grace woke up in a hospital with her mother by the bedside and her entire family in the room. She then knew she had made the right choice to return to the real world.

Stover said the official release date for the book is June 24.

“I wanted it to start here, and they (Tate) said they saw no problem with that,” Stover said at the BES library.

Stover said her goal is to make the problem of childhood asthma known to the public.

“A big thing is to raise awareness for this. Carissa passed from childhood asthma. That’s something we want to bring awareness to. I don’t want it to be about me, but about keeping her memory alive” she said.

She said her faith in God and the support of her family have gotten her through a difficult time.

“It’s been a lot. We lost Carissa and then last July my ex-husband was killed in a motorcycle accident, so my 15-year-old has lost his sister and his dad. I think that for him, being involved with this is a way to say he loves his sister,” Stover said. “I just turned it all over to God and my family has been so supportive through it all.”

More information on Stover and her new book can be found online at mokeystastelikechocolate.com.

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