A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about the culture of Trinidad and of Caribbean immigrants in the United States, including some common phrases and idioms. The book also presents a realistic and not too upsetting portrayal of what it's like to go through chemotherapy.
Love conquers fear.
Positive Role Models
The story centers on black characters: African Americans, Caribbeans, and immigrants from the Caribbean to the United States. A major theme is the struggle for teen lesbians to discover themselves, forge their first romantic connections, and manage family reactions. A strength of the book is the way it communicates how complexity and variety exist in loving relationships. A marriage breaks up due to depression in one of the partners. A girl finds deep connection with her grandmother. There's a pen pal relationship between a dying girl and a death row prisoner, and a tight-knit bunch of elderly siblings and cousins.
Violence & Scariness
A mother beats her daughter when she catches her naked and making out with another girl.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An erotic but not graphic make-out scene on the beach between two teen girls, and several other instances of romantic kissing.
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Multiple but infrequent uses of "s--t" and variations of "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A 16-year-old girl smokes pot with her grandmother. Teen girls consume edible and smoked marijuana while on a sleepover.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Stars and the Blackness Between Them was named a 2020 Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor Book. It is a work of magical-realism about two teen girls who fall in love, and how their relationship grows after one of them receives a life-threatening diagnosis. It alternates between the two girls' points of view: Audre, who grew up in Trinidad and moves to her father's home in Minnesota, and Mabel, who grew up in Minnesota. There are a few chapters in the voice of a death row inmate who becomes a pen pal to the sick girl. A 16-year-old girl smokes pot with her grandmother. Teen girls consume edible and smoked marijuana while on a sleepover. There are erotic but not graphic make-out scenes between teens and several other instances of romantic kissing. A mother beats her daughter when she catches her naked and making out with another girl. There are multiple but infrequent uses of "s--t" and variations of "f--k."
Is It Any Good?
This is a breathtakingly beautiful book. The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is Junauda Petrus' first novel; however, she's an accomplished filmmaker, poet, performance artist, and playwright, and brings all of those talents to bear. The book benefits from rich visual imagery, poems, and a skillful use of dialect and accents to reveal character. The author touches on coming out, conflict with parents, extended family relationships, friendship, justice, the immigrant experience, and mortality, all the while making her characters feel like real, specific, lovable people.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Books with LGBTQ+ Characters
Books Like The Fault in Our Stars
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