What happens when a 16-year-old Trinidad girl falls in love with a fellow teen in Minneapolis? Audre is heartbroken when her religious mama catches her with her secret girlfriend and immediately throws her on a plane to Minneapolis to live with her Black American daddy that she’s not even close to. But her exile does not stop Audre from falling head over heels for Mabel, a hip-hop loving, trendy Twin Cities girl who is all about #BlackGirlMagic. Can their newfound feels stand up to religious bigotry? And when Mabel becomes incredibly sick, will she survive?
Y’all,The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus is unreal. I listened to the audiobook and I was shook by the narration. Junauda’s voice is powerful, soothing, and reminds me why audiobooks by Black women are the best. I loved the lowkey steamy scenes, the way Black girl beauty is praised, and all of the Black and Caribbean culture. Reading this felt like being at a party full of Black folks living life large. One of my favorite parts though? The pro gender neutral language and nonbinary representation! I love seeing that in my Afrocentric fiction. A lot of times in Black culture, we don’t even talk about Black nonbinary people. It was dope to see Mabel stand up for one of her favorite musicians—a dope trans nonbinary artist.
Yo, there’s too much to say about this book. The themes are strong with this one. It talks about the struggles of being incarcerated and other issues that affect Black folk, living with a physical illness, rep for amazing Black dads, and the power of our ancestors. It’s all about how our ancestors live through us and are proud of us—whether we are gay, straight, or anything in between.
The writing style is chill and casual and sounds like both Mabel and Audre are talking to you. You fall in love with both of the girls by the end of the book. They’re so powerful and amazing in their own ways, but I HIGHLY recommend listening to this on audio. It’s basically spoken word and it feels exactly like coming home.
My only issue with this is the Trini rep aint it. Trini reviewers have spoken about not liking how Trini folks are portrayed as super homophobic and the way Creole language is repped is bad. I guess the Creole parts in the book were super cringey for native speakers to read. The author is a really dope Trini American woman which just goes to show that just because a book is ownvoices doesn’t mean the cultural rep will automatically be good. Trini reviewers have said it didn’t seem like the author had people who live in Trinidad beta read her book and it shows.
*Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
By Jesse E
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