Review: Blackout is Full of Joy, Light and Hope

Posted July 17, 2021 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Book Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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I received this book for free from NetGalley and Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Review: Blackout is Full of Joy, Light and HopeBlackout by Dhonielle ClaytonTiffany D. JacksonNic StoneAngie ThomasAshley WoodfolkNicola Yoon
Published by HarperCollins on June 22, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 256
Format: ARC, eBook, Hardcover
Source: NetGalley and Harper Collins
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Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon was a great summer read! (Bonus points for mood and ambiance if you end up reading part or all of it during an actual blackout like I did.) Blackout is a compilation of six stories tied together by the setting, New York City during a summer heatwave blackout, and the inter-story character connections.  It is full of joy, light and hope.

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First of all, I loved the epigraph “To Black kids everywhere: your stories, your joy, your love and your lives matter. You are a light in the dark.” This is the essence of this unique book written by six fabulous authors who got together during this pandemic to write this book. I remember listening to Nic Stone talk about the book during an NCTE convention panel and being like “Wow! This is going to be interesting!” I was hyped for it before it was even written 🤣!

Celebrating Black Teen Romance

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This novel is unique for several reasons. First, the obvious: it has six authors and not just any authors. Bestselling and brilliant writers who can each stand on their own set of work. Second, you can call it an anthology, but I would probably disagree with you a little. These stories each have characters that connect one story to another. Third, it’s not just a romance novel, it’s a BLACK TEEN ROMANCE NOVEL, with different types of romance and representation, including LGBTQ+.

The Importance of Inclusion

The inclusiveness of the types of couples included in the stories, it features two gay couples, is important because it gives a chance for all teens to see themselves in a love story. The book captures the joy, confusion, disappointment and growth that happens in relationships. It also addresses mental health and more than one character has a therapist. 

Favorite Moments

My favorite story from the bunch was hands down Tiffany Jackson’s “The Long Walk.” The characters and the language had me from the start. I was cracking up because when Tammi and Kareem were arguing it was like I was immediately transported back to when I used spend time in New York. When Tammi said, “Yo, you done? Or are you gonna mumble some more s*** under your stank breath?” That line took me out!I also liked Nicola Yoon’s story, “Seymour and Grace.” It was an interesting and hopeful way to end the book. 

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This Should Be a Movie…Wish Granted!

It was amazing and refreshing to read a book whose focus was Black Love and Joy together. Normally, I’d say something like, “it read like a movie, Netflix are you listening?” But I don’t have to this time because…it has already been optioned for a movie and TV show by Netflix and the Obamas!!!

HAVE A SIP OF COCOA ☕…

I came for… this dynamic compilation of bestselling authors coming together to write one novel.

I stayed for…. Joy and love and freedom in seeing young Black characters featured in different types of romantic situations and relationships.

Hot Cocoa Moments: I loved the ending of “All the Great Love Stories…and Dust.” So sweet and swoony! 

Would I Read it Again: I would read certain stories again.
Educator Recommendations: Do you remember the interlude on the Lauryn Hill album when the teacher is asking the kids about love? That’s what I wish I could take this book and do. Have kids read it in a book club setting and then discuss the characters, their choices and feelings and how they feel about love themselves. Because the novel is so inclusive, it includes both gay and straight couples, couples who are just beginning and couples who are nearing the end of their relationship. It is a good jumping off point to discuss relationships and expectations. It is also a great opportunity for Black kids to see themselves represented without the interference of another group’s gaze.

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