The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

Dutton. Sept. 2019. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525555483.
Gr 8 Up–Sixteen-year-olds Audre and Mabel are from different parts of the world, but over the course of a single bittersweet year they meet and fall in love. Audre has been sent from her home in Trinidad to Minneapolis after her very religious mother finds out she has been having a romantic relationship with another young woman. Meanwhile, Mabel, who has had a boyfriend but has never really been in love, finds herself diagnosed with terminal cancer. At a time when both young women are in desperate need of connection, they find it in each other. Both characters have unique and recognizable voices. Audre’s “Trini” accent and culture, in particular, come across loud and clear on the page. Intercalary poetry also enhances the story and will appeal to fans of verse novels. The love story is juxtaposed against the tragic story of a fictional wrongfully incarcerated man, whose death row memoir resonates with Mabel’s experience of knowing her death is likely near. This becomes a part of Mabel’s last wish through an organization like “Make a Wish Foundation.” The wrongful incarceration theme makes this title particularly relevant given the current conversations centered around the wrongful convictions of the “Central Park 5.”
VERDICT Told in alternating viewpoints and deeply romantic, this title will appeal to fans of Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star or Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera’s What If It’s Us.

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