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The Stars and the Blackness Between Them (Hardcover)
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.
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. 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.
About the Author
Junauda Petrus is a creative activist, writer, playwright, and multi-dimensional performance artist who is Minneapolis-born, West-Indian descended, and African-sourced. Her work centers around Black wildness, Afro-futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, spectacle and shimmer. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships to support her work, including a 2016 Jerome Film grant to write and direct an experimental and poetic web series called "Sweetness of Wild" about Black teens coming of age in Minneapolis. She is the co-founder of Free Black Dirt, an experimental arts production company.
“The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is a sweeping, heartfelt, and engrossing debut, a story so expertly crafted and beautifully written that you’ll want to return to it again and again. I got lost in the poetic, infectious voices of Audre and Mabel, two teens struggling with their own identities in a world that wants them to be easily categorized. This is THE queer read of 2019, and its final pages will haunt you long afterward. If Petrus is the future of YA (and I sure hope she is), then we are in good hands."—Mark Oshiro, award winning author of Anger Is a Gift