STARRED REVIEW
July 2021

Blackout

By Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Dhonielle Clayton, Nic Stone, Nicola Yoon & Tiffany D. Jackson
Review by

In Blackout, six of YA’s biggest superstars join forces to create a memorable collection of interlinked love stories that all unfold on one unforgettable New York City night.

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In Blackout, six of YA’s biggest superstars join forces to create a memorable collection of interlinked love stories that all unfold on one unforgettable New York City night.

Talented authors Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and Nicola Yoon have been crafting memorable novels and gaining deservedly passionate readerships for years. That makes this joint undertaking nothing less than a landmark publishing event for YA literature enthusiasts.

Jackson’s story, “The Long Walk,” serves as a framing narrative of sorts for the book, as it’s split into five “acts” that alternate with the other contributors’ stories. It’s late afternoon on a sweltering summer day, and just as Tam realizes that she and her ex-boyfriend Kareem have mistakenly been offered the same internship at the historic Apollo Theater, the city is plunged into a widespread blackout. Tam and Kareem embark on an epic journey on foot from Harlem back home to Brooklyn, where the summer’s most happening block party will kick off that evening.

Along the way, Kareem and Tam’s story intersects with five other tales of love. In Stone’s “Mask Off,” two boys stuck on the same subway car feel torn about the last time their paths crossed, when both were in disguise. In Clayton’s story, a girl in the iconic New York Public Library struggles to find the perfect book to express her romantic feelings. And in Thomas’ “No Sleep ’til Brooklyn,” set on a double-decker tour bus, a girl on a class trip from Mississippi gets valuable advice from a bus driver about charting her own course—which is exactly what he does, too, when he steers the bus to Brooklyn and to that same block party.

Not all of Blackout’s stories are typical happily-ever-afters, but they’re more interesting that way. Several leave just enough ambiguity to encourage healthy debate among readers. Spotting various characters’ connections to one another will also keep readers engaged and entertained.

YA readers have been calling on traditional publishers to acquire and support more positive representations of Black teens. Readers in search of joyful stories of young Black love will adore Blackout.

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Blackout

Blackout

By Angie Thomas & Ashley Woodfolk & Dhonielle Clayton & Nic Stone & Nicola Yoon & Tiffany D. Jackson
Quill Tree
ISBN 9780063088092

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