Trinidadian writer Rosa Guy, who was best known for her unflinching young adult fiction, has died in Manhattan after a battle with cancer. She was 89.

The author of fifteen novels, Guy was beloved for her treatment of issues many young women of color face, including class warfare, pregnancy, post-immigration adjustment, sexuality, and tensions between American blacks and West Indians.

The New York Times cites her ’70s trilogy of novels, The FriendsRubyand Edith Jackson as her most popular young adult works, but she is perhaps best known for the play, Once on This Island, which was adapted from her 1985 novel for adults, My Love, My Love: Or, The Peasant Girl. This book, which was a modern Caribbean retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, dealt with the difficult-to-cross class divide between a wealthy man and a Creole peasant.

The Times‘ lovely write-up also includes commentary from Maya Angelou, who was Guy’s close friend of over 50 years. Read the obituary in its entirety here and honor Rosa Guy by picking up one of her novels for yourself or one of the young women in your life.

Check out the video below for a glimpse at the original 1990 Broadway production of Once On This Island:

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