cover image Nothing Burns as Bright as You

Nothing Burns as Bright as You

Ashley Woodfolk. Versify, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-358-65535-0

In a tautly written, fast-moving novel in verse that captures the unbalanced experience of an all-consuming love, two unnamed queer Black teen girls move rapidly from strangerhood into a protective best friendship before becoming dysfunctional lovers and mutually destructive partners in crime. Beginning with the couple’s parting after their fateful decision to set fire to the dumpster behind their high school, the story switches nonlinearly between their dissonant perspectives. One is the starry-eyed, compulsively dishonest daughter of an attentive family; the other an avoidant latchkey kid, for whom “fire was always a joke.” Exploring themes of loyalty, infatuation, and the value of self-love over romance, Woodfolk (When You Were Everything) peppers this fraught, almost suffocating love story with eye-catching lines that signpost the teens’ deepening codependency from their bond’s initial spark (“And our soft brown hands collided/ like stars”) through its fiery conclusion (“You loved me more than I knew./ I loved you more than you could take”). Ages 12–up. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Apr.)