A Coretta Scott King Honor Book
Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus's bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.
Port of Spain, Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she's going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor's daughter. Audre's grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won't lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. "America have dey spirits too, believe me," she tells Audre.
Minneapolis, USA. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels--about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that's plagued her all summer. Mabel's reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.
Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it's Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.
Junauda Petrus's debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.
After 16-year-old Audre's homophobic mother catches her in the arms of her girlfriend, she is shipped from her home in Trinidad to her father in Minneapolis. There, Audre is reunited with her childhood playmate, Mabel, who is slowly coming to terms with her own sexuality, based on her feelings for her ex-boyfriend, her best friend, and the late, great Whitney Houston. Mabel is quickly smitten with Audre, and the girls begin to grow closer until an unexpected medical diagnosis threatens to halt their budding love story. Faced with her own mortality, Mabel seeks out her life's meaning in the stars and in the words of an infamous death row inmate, while Audre explores her loving conjurer grandmother's spiritual teachings for an impossible cure for Mabel's disease. Enfolding lyrical poetry entries told in the girls' alternating voices that correspond to each "season" of the zodiac, Petrus's earnest debut successfully, touchingly combines elements of fantasy, bittersweet realism, and potent, affecting spirituality to tell the coming-of-age story of two complex, beautifully drawn young black women whose friendship and love draw them together even as Mabel's failing health pushes them apart. Ages 14 up.
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