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In 1974, Alice's book, Langston Hughes: American Poet was published, which was a reader whose intention was to teach children about the legendary Harlem Renaissance Poet. She was also hired as a contributing editor for Ms. Magazine. Alice moved to New York City with her husband and her daughter, Rebecca. While living there, Alice worked only part-time at the magazine and dedicated the remainder of her time to her writing.
Meridian, which was Alice's second novel, was published in 1976. Although the book had its detractors, overall the book came out to great critical acclaim. Her novel was one of the first books based on the lives of women in the Civil Rights struggle. Although Alice was achieving critical success in the public limelight, behind closed doors her marriage was falling apart. She and her husband, Mel Leventhal decided to divorce. The divorce was an amicable one and when they separated they decided to remain friends.
Alice described this as being a very difficult time in her life. Still reeling from the grief over death of her father and her divorce, Alice turned to writing to sustain her through the pain. She began work on a third work of poetry, Good Night Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning. After her poems were sent to her publisher, Alice began the genesis of what would be her third novel and most celebrated novel.