A solid sophomore novel celebrating love that begs for a soundtrack.


Queer Black girls fall in love at a summer music festival.

When dating the top basketball recruit in Indiana turns disastrous, ruining her socially, emotionally, and in her mother’s eyes, perpetually in love 16-year-old Olivia Brooks begs her best friend, Imani Garrett, to take a summer road trip to the Farmland Arts and Music Festival in Georgia. Imani agrees on one condition: Olivia cannot hook up with anyone on the trip. Meanwhile, Toni Jackson is heading to Farmland for the first time without her musician-turned-roadie dad, who was killed 8 months ago. Joined by her best friend, Peter Menon (whose surname cues him as Indian), Toni is trying to figure her life out—college or something else? She believes that if she performs in the festival’s Golden Apple amateur competition, the truth will become clear. The four meet in Georgia, and when all the solo slots in the competition are full, Toni and Olivia agree to enter as a duo and help each other with their individual quests—Toni’s to perform on stage, Olivia’s to be distracted from the upcoming judicial hearing over violating behavior by her ex-boyfriend and to win the prize of a much-needed car. Although Imani and Peter feel more like devices than well-developed characters with substantial relationships to the protagonists, the exploration of Olivia’s tendency to adapt to others’ expectations of her is wonderfully nuanced, and her relationship with Toni is delightfully swoon-y.

A solid sophomore novel celebrating love that begs for a soundtrack. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-66223-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told.

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The 17-year-old son of a troubled rock star is determined to find his own way in life and love.

On the verge of adulthood, Blade Morrison wants to leave his father’s bad-boy reputation for drug-and-alcohol–induced antics and his sister’s edgy lifestyle behind. The death of his mother 10 years ago left them all without an anchor. Named for the black superhero, Blade shares his family’s connection to music but resents the paparazzi that prevent him from having an open relationship with the girl that he loves. However, there is one secret even Blade is unaware of, and when his sister reveals the truth of his heritage during a bitter fight, Blade is stunned. When he finally gains some measure of equilibrium, he decides to investigate, embarking on a search that will lead him to a small, remote village in Ghana. Along the way, he meets people with a sense of purpose, especially Joy, a young Ghanaian who helps him despite her suspicions of Americans. This rich novel in verse is full of the music that forms its core. In addition to Alexander and co-author Hess’ skilled use of language, references to classic rock songs abound. Secondary characters add texture to the story: does his girlfriend have real feelings for Blade? Is there more to his father than his inability to stay clean and sober? At the center is Blade, fully realized and achingly real in his pain and confusion.

A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told. (Verse fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-310-76183-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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

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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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