The Stars and the Blackness Between Them: A Story of Love, Hope, and the Blackness Between the Stars - Download PDF
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them: A Book Review
If you are looking for a deep, uplifting, and lyrical love story that explores black culture, astrology, and magic, you should check out The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus. This debut novel tells the story of two teenage girls, Audre and Mabel, who fall in love as they face different challenges in their lives. In this review, we will look at what the book is about, what makes it unique and engaging, and what are the critical reception and accolades of the book.
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What is the book about?
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is a young adult fiction book that was released on September 17, 2019 by Dutton Books. It has 320 pages in the hardcover edition and is divided into four parts, each named after a phase of the moon. The book alternates between the perspectives of Audre and Mabel, who have distinct and irresistible voices.
The main characters and their relationship
Audre is a 16-year-old girl who lives in Port of Spain, Trinidad. She is a lover of books, music, and astrology. She has a secret girlfriend, Neri, who is the pastor's granddaughter. When her strictly religious mother catches them together, she decides to send Audre to live with her father in Minneapolis. Audre is heartbroken and scared to leave her home, her grandmother Queenie, and her culture.
Mabel is a 16-year-old girl who lives in Minneapolis. She is a creative soul who enjoys writing poetry, making playlists, and expressing herself through fashion. She has an ex-boyfriend, Terrell, who still cares for her, and a best friend, Jada, who she kissed once in the woods. She is questioning her sexuality and her place in the world. She also has a vague feeling of illness that plagues her all summer.
When Audre arrives in Minneapolis, she meets Mabel at a dinner hosted by Mabel's father, who is Audre's father's best friend. They instantly feel a connection and become friends. As they spend more time together, they develop romantic feelings for each other. They also support each other through their struggles. Audre helps Mabel adjust to her diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, while Mabel helps Audre cope with her culture shock and homesickness. They also learn from each other's experiences and perspectives on blackness, queerness, spirituality, and love.
The themes and messages of the book
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them explores various themes and messages that resonate with readers of different backgrounds and identities. Some of these themes are:
The power of love to heal, transform, and liberate.
The importance of family, friendship, and community.
The diversity and richness of black culture across the diaspora.
The beauty and complexity of queer identity and expression.
The connection between nature, astrology, and spirituality.
The challenge of facing mortality and finding meaning in life.
The book also challenges stereotypes and prejudices that often marginalize black queer people. It portrays them as multidimensional human beings who have hopes, dreams, fears, joys, sorrows, strengths, weaknesses, flaws, virtues, passions, talents, beliefs, values The author and her background
The author of The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is Junauda Petrus, a writer, artist, and activist based in Minneapolis. She was born to a Trinidadian mother and a Minnesotan father, and she identifies as a queer black feminist. She has a BA in African American Studies from Howard University and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota. She is also the co-founder of Free Black Dirt, an artistic collective that creates original theater, music, and performance art.
Petrus was inspired to write The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by her own experiences of growing up in a mixed-race family, traveling to Trinidad, falling in love with astrology, and exploring her sexuality. She wanted to create a story that celebrates black queer love and culture, and that honors the ancestors and the cosmos. She also wanted to challenge the dominant narratives of black pain and trauma, and instead offer a vision of black joy and liberation.
What makes the book unique and engaging?
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is not your typical young adult romance novel. It has many unique and engaging elements that make it stand out from other books in the genre. Some of these elements are:
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The use of black vernaculars and astrology
One of the most distinctive features of the book is the use of different black vernaculars to capture the voices and personalities of the characters. Audre speaks in Trinidadian dialect, which is rich in slang, expressions, and proverbs. Mabel speaks in African American Vernacular English (AAVE), which is influenced by hip hop culture, social media, and activism. The book also includes words and phrases from other languages, such as Spanish, French, Yoruba, and Twi. The author provides a glossary at the end of the book to help readers understand the meanings and contexts of these words.
Another unique feature of the book is the use of astrology to shape the characters and their relationship. Audre is an avid astrologer who reads horoscopes, studies birth charts, and consults tarot cards. She believes that the stars have a plan for her and Mabel, who are both Pisces. She also uses astrology to understand herself and others better. For example, she knows that her mother is a Capricorn who values tradition and order, while her father is a Sagittarius who loves adventure and freedom. The book also includes astrological insights at the beginning of each chapter, which give clues about what will happen next.
The incorporation of magical realism and spirituality
Besides being a realistic story about two teenage girls in love, The Stars and the Blackness Between Them also incorporates elements of magical realism and spirituality that add depth and mystery to the plot. Magical realism is a literary genre that blends realistic settings with fantastical or supernatural elements. In this book, some examples of magical realism are:
Audre's grandmother Queenie has visions of the future and communicates with spirits.
Mabel sees a purple light around Audre when they first meet.
Audre finds a mysterious book called The Ancestors' Book of Magic in her father's basement.
Mabel has dreams of flying with Audre in space.
Audre and Mabel visit a healer named Njideka who performs rituals with herbs, crystals, candles, and water.
These elements of magical realism are connected to the theme of spirituality, which is another important aspect of the book. The book explores different forms of spirituality that are rooted in black culture and history. Some examples are:
Audre's grandmother Queenie practices Obeah, a folk religion that originated in West Africa and was brought to the Caribbean by enslaved people.
Mabel's father practices Rastafari, a religious movement that emerged in Jamaica in the 1930s and worships Haile Selassie I as the messiah.
Audre and Mabel learn about Orishas, deities from Yoruba religion that represent different aspects of nature and human life.
Audre and Mabel read about Maroons, runaway enslaved people who established free communities in the Caribbean and resisted colonial oppression.
Audre and Mabel honor their ancestors by creating altars, writing letters, lighting candles, offering food, playing music, and saying prayers.
These forms of spirituality help Audre and Mabel cope with their challenges The representation of queer black love and culture
Perhaps the most unique and engaging element of the book is the representation of queer black love and culture. The book celebrates the diversity and beauty of black queer people, who are often marginalized and erased in mainstream media and literature. The book shows that black queer people have rich and varied histories, cultures, identities, expressions, and experiences that deserve to be seen and heard.
The book also portrays the challenges and joys of being a