New York is my favorite city in the world, so of course I had to read this collection of short stories taking place one summer night when a heatwave makes the city go dark. And I’m happy to say that I got all the New York vibes I was hoping for!
In essence, Blackout is a collection of six short stories (even though they are divided into more chapters to connect the different stories and characters along the way) that are all featuring Black teens dealing with relationship issues that are put to the test during a blackout in New York. Each of the story focuses on a specific relationship issue and with different characters, but along the way the six stories eventually connect and add different view points from other characters. I really loved the way the stories were interconnected, which made it closer to a novel than an anthology, and the amazing queer representation.
My two favorite stories were All the Great Love Stories... and Dust by Dhonielle Clayton and Seymour and Grace by Nicola Yoon. The first one was about two childhood friends who secretly felt more than friendship for each other. It was such a sweet story and I loved the scrap book and literature references. The second one was about two strangers meeting on an Uber ride, who end up discussing philosophy, the meaning of life, their family history, friendship and relationship in such a fun and romantic way that really warmed my heart.
The Long Walk by Tiffany D. Jackson was a story divided into several chapters that followed the two exes Tammi and Kareem as they competed for the same internship and ended up having to walk all the way to Brooklyn together. And having to talk about why their relationship really ended in the first place… Kareem was such a sweetheart, but I never really warmed to Tammi, who in my opinion didn’t take responsibility for her actions and tried to blame the failed relationship solely on Kareem, when she had just as much, or even more, to do with their breakup. But it was entertaining to follow their walk through the city while dealing with their issues!
Made to Fit by Ashley Woodfolk was a really sweet story about two girls falling in love when visiting a senior living facility, just like the residents/relatives had predicted, but with a little bit too much of instalove.
Mask Off by Nic Stone was also a story divided into several chapters about a closeted basketball player and his secret crush, who get stuck on a train during the blackout. I really liked the glimpses we got to see of their past and their history together and Tremaine was such a brave and wonderful character. The basketball player JJ on the other hand was not a favorite, in the way he didn’t stand up for himself or his beliefs.
No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn by Angie Thomas was my least favorite of the stories. It was full of cliches and I the emerging love triangle and the characters didn’t engage me enough. It all felt quite artificial and bland, sadly. Except for the bus driver, who was such a gem!
Overall, this was a sweet, hopeful, light and easy read with amazing representation and perfect New York vibes! I really enjoyed the stories and the characters, even though none of them stole my heart, and the whole concept of this anthology.
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The Beauty That Remains is a gripping, beautiful story of life and love after loss. This book is both heart-breakingly sad and hopeful at the same time, with so many wonderful characters you immediately fall in love with.
This beautifully written story follows three teens who are dealing with the loss of a loved one either through accident, illness or suicide. I love all the amazingly diverse and well developed characters - Autumn, Sasha and Logan - and how we get to know each of them individually and their lives and relationships. The story goes on from Autumn’s grief over her best friend Tavia’s sudden death, to Sasha who’s lost her twin sister in leukemia, and finally to Logan, whose guilt over the horrible things he said when breaking up with his boyfriend is eating him alive after Bram’s unexpectedly committed suicide.
But there is so much more than dealing with grief in this story. Autumn is also struggling with her confusion on her emotions towards Tavia’s brother and with dealing with her other school friends, when the glue that connected her to them is gone. Sasha on the other hand is struggling with herself, now being ‘twinless’ and having panic attacks. And Logan is acting out, no longer able to write music like he used to and drinking too much to silence the voice telling him it was his fault that Bram died.
In a way it was so hard to read this book, with all the characters going through so much and learning as they go how to find themselves again, but making so many mistakes and having such hard times. But then things started to overlap and from the middle of the book forward, these seemingly individual struggles met and found their ways to healing through music, in such a hopeful and beautiful, metaphorically way via the band that sort of had died with the lost ones and now rose again to spread love and joy.
I also have to say something about the side characters, as there were so many wonderful persons in this book. I loved Dante and the fragile love story between him and Autumn that was so lined with grief and guilt.
I don’t remember the last time, if ever, I’ve read a story so full of sorrow and sadness, but also full of hope and joy of life. It’s the type of story that breaks your heart and mends it at the same time. It’s a story that has everything; loss, pain, grief, confusion, anger and regret, but also beauty, love, friendship and happiness. And so much diversity and LGBTQ+ awareness! Despite all sadness, I felt hopeful and comforted at the end.
If you like strong and emotional reads, you should definitely give this book a chance.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abby Kaitz Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Alice Winn Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira Amanda Woody A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Ban Gilmartin Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cait Nary Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare Cat Sebastian C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Christina Lee Ciara Smyth Claerie Kavanaugh Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Courtney Kae Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Dallas Smith Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton D.N. Bryn Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E.L. Massey E. Lockhart Emery Lee Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens F.T. Lukens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hannah Grace Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving H.S. Valley Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacob Gelman Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson James L. Sutter Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jen Bailey Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kathy Anderson K.A. Tucker KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Lauren Shippen Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Lex Croucher Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr M.A. Wardell Melanie Munton Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nathaniel Shea Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Nyla K. Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rachel Reid Racquel Marie Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Taylor Jenkins Reid Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Tracy Deonn Tucker Shaw Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez