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THE STARS AND THE BLACKNESS BETWEEN THEM

A cosmically compelling read.

In Petrus’ bewitching debut, Aquarius meets Scorpio and contemplates what comes next.

Audre has found religion in the form of Neri, the pastor’s granddaughter, much to the chagrin of her religious mother. Sent from Trinidad to Minneapolis to live with her father, Audre is afraid of leaving her beloved grandmother, being cut off from her home culture, and starting over in a new country. Meanwhile, fascinated with Whitney Houston and the singer’s supposed romance with a female friend, Mabel is attempting to fit the pieces of her sexuality together. Although she’s been feeling sick, she agrees to entertain her father’s friend’s newly arrived daughter, and Audre and Mabel grow close over the summer. As the school year ramps up, Mabel can no longer ignore her chronic fatigue and pain and must grapple with life-altering news. She finds comfort in reading an old book of her parents’, learning about astrology, and seeking Audre’s healing presence. Audre’s voice is lyrical, and readers will practically hear her Trinidadian accent as she overcomes her fears and self-doubt. Through a nonlinear storyline and two secondary characters, Afua and Queenie, the author beautifully interjects elements of magical realism while delving into the complexities of spirituality. Readers seeking a deep, uplifting love story will not be disappointed as the novel covers both flourishing feelings and bigger questions around belief and what happens when we face our own mortality. Main characters are black.

A cosmically compelling read. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-5255-5548-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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