An earnest but didactic collection that is both personal and political.

WHEN THE STARS WROTE BACK

POEMS

Free-form poetry about the struggle to find agency is paired with softly rendered illustrations.

Alternating in style from brief, punchy verses to lists to longer pieces that read like confessional vignettes, these poems explore difficult relationships (romantic, platonic, and familial) through a feminist lens and examine the ways in which they can result in a loss of self. A trigger warning at the beginning preps readers for content that includes topics such as eating disorders, sexual assault, mental illness, and emotional abuse. These issues and more are woven throughout this collection that simultaneously embodies tough wit and vulnerability and is sectioned into four parts—“Half-light,” “Midnight,” “Starfall,” and “Dawn”—that reflect the emotional arc of the narrator. Queer romantic relationships are a subject of discussion, but there is no mention or examination of race or ethnicity as a facet of identity and experience. Understated grayscale drawings and handwritten phrases mesh well with verses that move with fluidity across the pages. While there are some stylistic embellishments, these poems are at their core distinctly message-driven, often taking on the tone of self-help literature. This will likely resonate with some readers who share the experiences being parsed but may not pull in those who don’t.

An earnest but didactic collection that is both personal and political. (Poetry. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17267-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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