cover image The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

Junauda Petrus. Dutton, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-55548-3

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. [em](Sept.) [/em]