That Summer Night on Frenchmen Street

Tu Bks. Jun. 2022. 400p. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781643795010.
Gr 9 Up–Black twins Jessamine and Joel take different approaches to staying on track senior year of high school: Joel is quiet, artistic, and a little too obedient, while Jess runs hot and cold, lags behind in her assignments, but is gifted and eager to fly. Jess and Joel survived Hurricane Katrina when they were five years old, but the trauma and loss still linger. It’s just them and their mom now. Jess suffers from nightmares, Joel can’t speak his mind, and they both run from commitment. But family bonds still hold: an adult trans cousin, the loud, independent Solange, who’s not without her own struggles, supplies the necessary encouragement to the twins that their mother sometimes can’t muster. Jess and Tennessee, a new white kid in town, take turns narrating this story of teenage romance and identity. She finds herself inexplicably attracted to him; his shyness and ability to focus unnerve her. Their playground is New Orleans, rich with its own culture, celebrations, and history. Tenn learns that firsthand from Saint, a gay, Black private school classmate and fashionista who can’t wait to show off at the next Mardi Gras. Saint is as free as Joel is buttoned up; if they hook up, this potpourri of teenage drama and transformation will be complete.
VERDICT New Orleans shines in this story of twins who survived Hurricane Katrina and their potpourri of BIPOC friends and relations.

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