PODCAST

Episode 375: Summer Reads With Nicola Yoon

BY MEGAN LABRISE • June 4, 2024

We’re celebrating summer’s hottest books with special guest Nicola Yoon.

On this week’s Fully Booked podcast, we kick off the red-hot new reading season with a segment highlighting some of our editors’ most anticipated summer reads. Editors Laurie Muchnick, Eric Liebetrau, Mahnaz Dar, and Laura Simeon share several of the new and noteworthy books you’ll want to take to the beach, the park, or your coolest room—books that will transport you to new worlds as the weather turns.

Then, No. 1 New York Times–bestselling author Nicola Yoon joins us to discuss One of Our Kind (Knopf, June 11). The beloved YA superstar’s previous novels include Everything, Everything, The Sun Is Also a Star, and Instructions for Dancing. With her husband, bestselling author Paul Yoon, she is the co-publisher of Joy Revolution, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books focusing on romance starring and written by people of color.

One of Our Kind is a scintillating psychological thriller—Yoon’s first novel for adults—set primarily in a wealthy Black suburb of Los Angeles that seems highly inviting to a successful young couple with a 6-year-old son and baby on the way. Here’s a bit from our starred review:

“Jasmyn Williams, the protagonist of Yoon’s fourth novel (and first for adults), has just moved with her husband, Kingston, and 6-year-old son, Kamau, to Liberty, a community of McMansions in suburban Los Angeles launched by a billionaire entrepreneur and tailored to affluent Black people. Jasmyn, who’s pregnant, wants Liberty to be a stable perch from which to support the community beyond its gates—she’s a public defender working with underprivileged clients, and Kingston is a venture capitalist who mentors at-risk youth. But most of Jasmyn’s fellow Liberty-ites are oddly skittish about activism or even discussing the case of a 4-year-old Black girl shot by a white police officer.…Though Yoon’s story relates to current conversations around race, its tropes hark back to 1970s pod-people horror, particularly Ira Levin novels like Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives. It’s clear early on that this ‘Black utopia’ is not what it seems…[in this] bracing tale of the perils of groupthink and willful ignorance.”

Yoon begins by sharing a bit about the inspiration for One of Our Kind, including a famous Toni Morrison quote (“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction”) and The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin. We then talk a little bit about protagonist Jasmyn Williams—where she’s coming from, where she’s heading at the beginning of the book—and her job as a public defender. We consider how some characters may be talking past one another when it comes to the subject of self-care, and delve into different ideas of community. We talk about the desire for self-definitions in light of the limits of identity terminology. Yoon tells us about the writing process for One of Our Kind, the questions she wanted to explore in the novel, whether she sees a distinction between writing YA and writing adult fiction, her experience co-publishing Joy Revolution’s early titles, and much more.

 

TOP SUMMER 2024 READS:

Swan Song by Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown)

Adventures in Volcanoland: What Volcanoes Tell Us About the World and Ourselves by Tamsin Mather (Hanover Square Press)

Vega's Piece of the Sky by Jennifer Torres (Little, Brown)

Deep Is the Fen by Lili Wilkinson (Delacorte)

 

THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS:

Your Future Is Now: A Guide To Understanding Your Finances and Gaining Independence by Jeffrey Panik

Blok 42 by Debrianna Obara

The Assays of Ata by K.I.S.

The Cusser Club by Randall Northcutt

 

Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.

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