The Stars And The Blackness Between Them by Junauda PetrusThe Stars And The Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus is a magnificent literary tapestry that contains magical realism, irreparable losses and timeless love.

Port of Spain, Trinidad. Audre is only sixteen years old but she has the weight of the world upon her shoulders because her super religious mom found out that she has a girlfriend and now she is going to be packed and shipped off to America to live with her father. Out of all the girls she could have fallen in love with but she just had to fall for the pastor’s granddaughter. Queenie is Audre’s grandmother and she is the proud owner of a lovely white Cadillac. She used to be a dancer and she has a very colorful past with a couple of secrets she holds close to her heart. Queenie tries her best to reassure Audre that she won’t lose her Trini roots and who she truly is when she goes to Minneapolis.

Minneapolis, USA. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is trying to untangle her confusing feelings about her ex-boyfriend, Terrell and about her close friend, Jada and that intimate moment they shared in the woods and the faint feeling of sickness that persisted throughout her summer break. Mabel’s musings came to an abrupt halt when her father mentions that he has invited his best friend and his daughter who has just arrived from Trinidad, to dinner.

Mabel falls hard and fast for Audre and she wants to be with Audre every step of the way as she learns about the ins and outs of American high school life. Their budding romance takes a drastic turn when Mabel receives a heart-wrenching diagnosis and Audre is ready and willing to take care of Mabel.

Will Audre and Mabel be able to find love and happiness in the midst of so much uncertainty?

The Characters

Audre had to say goodbye to everyone and everything she loves in Trinidad and Tobago when her mother sent her to live with her father in America. She is heartbroken beyond measure because she doesn’t have a close relationship with her father and she has been denied any type of contact with her first love. I just wanted to give Audre the biggest hug ever because I could easily understand her pain and frustration. Audre has a no-nonsense personality and she isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind. She also has a quirky sense of humor and she has the biggest heart ever! She will go above and beyond for anyone who is dear to her heart.

Mabel has been going through a lot of stuff in her personal life but she is happy to welcome Audre to Minneapolis. Mabel just does her thing and she has her own kind of style and I truly admire her for it because she doesn’t allow anyone to define her or tell her how she should be. She certainly deserves the highest of fives because she loves Whitney Houston just as much as I do! But seriously though, I think Mabel is totally awesome because she has to come to terms with an unpredictable illness while she fully embraces and explores the deep feelings she has for Audre.

The Writing Style

I am not ashamed to admit that I have fallen in love with many books over the years but I must say that this is the first time that I have fallen in love with a writer’s words. Junauda Petrus’s writing is pure magic and she has certainly bewitched me in every sense of the word. This story was told through Audre and Mabel’s point of view and their voices were unique, powerful and beautiful. I never thought that anyone would be able to perfectly capture the essence of what a Speak-Easy with Caribbean people is all about but this author definitely nailed it with her vivid and heartwarming descriptions. The Speak-Easy get-togethers are still a thing here in Trinidad and Tobago and I’ve been going to them ever since I came out! Wicked wink!

The Pros

There are so many things that my book dragon and I love about this story! Junauda Petrus gave me the rare opportunity to see my Trini culture, language, food and festivities, richly and accurately portrayed in an LGBT novel. Plus, I just love the fact that this author highlighted issues that deeply affect black communities worldwide such as homophobia, the broken penal system, mental health challenges, drug abuse and systemic racism while she took me on a mind-blowing journey with Audre and Mabel.

The Cons

This story deals with terminal illness, emotional trauma and depression. These issues are not really cons for me per se but they could be triggers for some readers.

The Conclusion

I don’t even know if my review will ever be able to do this novel justice because this author’s lyrical writing snagged my attention from the first paragraph and I was captivated until the very last word (wait a minute, that’s not true… I’m still hung up on this phenomenal story!) If you’re a huge fan of books that take you on emotional rollercoaster rides coupled with delightful magical moments, then this is definitely the story for you!

Excerpt from The Stars And The Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

“You ever see someone face so stchupid, you want to smack the stchupid off, but then you ’fraid they gone get they stchupidness on you? Dat’s me stepdad, no doubt. Me mudda definitely got he stchupidness on she self…. I don’t want to talk about dem,” says Audre.

I’m in the prettiest garden in the North Side with a girl who talk so pretty she has me feeling like I can hear melodies in her voice. She seems hella intense but a little chill or maybe shy? I don’t know. I am still a little groggy from sleeping most of the day.

Against all this green, Audre is cocoa wrapped in a light-purple dress with skinny straps that keep sliding down her shoulders, her booty a pillow on the earth in the midst of it all. She also has these superthick glasses with brown rims that had to be circa 1988 but still made her seem like she saw into your soul. And was unimpressed.

She just moved up from Trinidad due to some drama with her mama. She don’t want to talk about it, I do know that. And apparently from what my dad knows, she is also deep in the church too, so I watch my mouth.

Well, mostly I watch her mouth.

And I don’t know why, but I was really excited to see her. We met once when she was visiting from Trinidad when we was both eleven. I took her to the raspberry patch then too. She had never tasted any in her life. She had eaten soursop, chenette, sugar apple, pommecythere, guava, breadfruit, and all of these other Caribbean fruit I ain’t never heard of and wrote down to memorize. But never a raspberry, which are basically my main ish.

That day, she ate so many raspberries that she got sick and had the runs. She even had to go home, the diarrhea got so real for her. But she wasn’t even embarrassed. I remember her sitting in her father’s back seat, like a fallen soldier with a spattering of raspberry wounds all over her dress, and a smile on her face. She was muttering she would do it all again as the car drove off. I think I liked her since then. She was the perfect reckless.

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About the author

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My name is April Adams and I am an accountant at a civil service office. Even though I read a wide variety of lesbian fiction, I enjoy mystery and thriller books the most because I love the state of suspense the stories have me in until the end and I find out “who’s done it.”