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by Dean Atta

Pub Date: May 24th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-06-315798-9
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Friendship, family, and film collide in this queer love triangle.

Life in London is star-studded for 16-year-old Mack, a Black British boy of Nigerian Yoruba descent, son of film director Tejumola Fadayomi. Mack gets asked on the red carpet about his rumored relationship with Finlay, the leading actor in his father’s latest film. The book then moves back in time 18 months to when Mack gets to know Maz, a girl at school. They become fast friends, bonding over food and the shared loss of their mums to cancer. Mack sees this as an opportunity to get close to Maz’s cousin Karim, a popular athlete of Egyptian descent. They start dating but are forced to hide their relationship; K isn’t out to his basketball team. Mack’s poetry, text messages, and intimate conversations give insight into his insecurities, from wearing makeup in public to being the subject of fat jokes in the press: This raw beauty and honesty are the verse novel’s greatest strengths. When Mack and his dad temporarily move to Scotland to shoot a movie, he can only see K on the weekends. Their relationship is further tested when Mack actually begins to fall for Scottish Fin, who is White, trans, and has 2 million social media followers. Once this central tension is set, the novel, that includes diverse cultural influences in the dialogue, builds slowly and ends abruptly. (This review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

Emotionally frank scenes from a romance and the cutting-room floor.

(Verse novel. 13-18)