Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and Nicola Yoon. Quill Tree Books, HarperCollins, 2021. 9780063088092
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Realistic fiction, romance
What did you like about the book? Six very popular Black authors team up for this set of interconnected stories about love during a summer blackout in New York City. The conceit is that everyone will eventually end up at a Brooklyn block party by the end of the day (or at least be related to someone there.) I could almost feel the burning pavement and the sense of both wonder and trepidation as the power winks out and characters are left inside sweltering subway cars, low on phone batteries, or walking all the way back home in uncomfortable footwear. Jackson’s story is the anchor and the one we keep returning to as her characters make their way from the Apollo Theater in Harlem all the way downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge. Rounding out the four hetero- couples, Stone focuses on a long-simmering m/m attraction while Woodfolk has an instant crush between two girls as her plot. I think most teens would be able to identify with the rising conflicts in each of these stories: how do I let my friend know that I’m attracted to him? Is it OK to look for someone new? How will my teammates react to my bisexuality? Should I let bygones be bygones? The shortness of the format means the selections wind up quickly, with the emphasis squarely on romance, instead of real life hurdles. All of these authors are so well-known and their new books so eagerly anticipated that the melding of all six will make book talking this one easy. Great looking cover art too. All the main characters are Black.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I needed a concept map to help me make sense of the interconnectedness of the characters and their extended families. Considering the excessive talent marshalled for this project, I felt the format flattened their individual voices. If the authors’ names had been hidden, I could not have matched them to their stories.
To whom would you recommend this book? Teens looking for sweet and salty romance stories will enjoy this quick read.
Who should buy this book? High school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? YA fiction, romance if you genre-fy
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: August 5, 2021