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Junauda Petrus Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Junauda Petrus

Junauda Petrus is a playwright, young adult author, and a multi-dimensional performance artist. She was born in Minneapolis to parents of Indian and African descends. Junauda is best known for her 2019 debut novel, The Stars and the Blackness between Them. Her work revolves around Afro-futurism, Black Wildness, spectacle, ancestral healing, sweetness, and shimmer.

The Stars And The Blackness Between Them

Junauda Petrus’s debut novel is told from multiple perspectives from the point of view of two main characters, as shown in the book’s cover. It’s the story about two black girls from different backgrounds who end up finding love and happiness in a world that’s so determined to deny them both.

In Trinidad, we meet the 16-year-old Audre. She is desponded having found out that she’ll be sent to live in America with her dad because her staunchly religious mother found her having a secret relationship with the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandma (a retired dancer who drives a convertible Cadillac and has dark secrets of her own) tries to convince her granddaughter that she won’t ever lose her roots, not even when she’s sent in Minneapolis. The story then shifts to Minneapolis, where we meet 16-year-old Mabel sleeping on her bed, gazing at the ceiling trying to find out the reason why she feels so bad about her ex-lover and the moments they had in the woods, and her vague feeling of illness that has clouded her summer. Mabel’s daydreaming is cut short when her dad informs her that his best friend and his daughter from Trinidad will be visiting their house for dinner.

Mabel instantaneously in love with Audre and is determined to take care of her as she navigates an American high school. However, their love takes a turn for the worst when test results unravel the reason why Mabel was so sick all summer, and its Audrey who’s caring for Mabel as they are faced with an uncertain future. Junauda Petrus’s first book vividly captures the lyrical voice and distinctly lush of Audre and Mabel as they materialize a love that’s stronger than prison, hatred, and death and a love as vast as the blackness between stars. From this summary, the reader can already guess the novel’s genre and the significant themes that Junauda talks in her book. But while the novel blurb gives you a broad glimpse of the plot, it doesn’t, however, do much to showcase how powerful the narrative is, how fascinating the writing is, or how lovely and profound the connection is between Mabel and Audre.

There is so much to love in The Stars and the Blackness between Them. Yes, Audre is sent away when her mother finds her with her secret girlfriend. She is ashamed and told she is nasty by the mother. But she finds love, acceptance, and support from everyone else in her life. On the other hand, Mabel finds it annoying kissing her boyfriend, but being near her friends Jada makes her heart jump. She is trying to figure out what all this means, but it’s not painful, angst-filled or met with any hate. In Minneapolis, the two are surrounded by supportive friends and family, many of whom are queer. And for Audre, she has a supportive grandma back in Trinidad, who’s always been closest friend and most loving person. Her grandma accepts Audre for who she is and fills her with love, always reminding her that she’s perfect as she is. While the story is told from alternating points of view of Agnes and Mabel, we also get some surprising perspectives. There are chapters about Audre’s grandma (Queenie) younger life, as well as chapters from a record Mabel, is reading. Penned by Afua Mahmoud while in prison, The Stars and the Blackness between Them (the memoir) provide unexpected points of connection for Mabel, who feels alone as she reads his thoughts on life while dealing with her diagnosis of a terminal illness. These voices and experiences breathe hope, love, isolation, loneliness, and freedom. After Mabel becomes pen pals with Afua, he tells her that despite all the circumstances, his life is still his, and so is her life as well.
Through the lenses of love and freedom, the characters in the story ruminate on their past, present, and future found through cosmic connections. The characters learn to be free, to love without fear and boundaries, and to give themselves space to figure out who they are. The voices from this beautifully written novel will resonate and stay with the readers long after the suspenseful and unpredictable ending. It’s a story full of love, strength, healing, and spirituality- a story that hasn’t been told before. Be ready to forgo your daily routine once you start reading the book; Audre and Mabel will draw you into their worlds and never lose their hold of you even after the last page. Overall, The Stars and the Blackness between Them is a lovely tale that’s both sad and hopeful.

Reflecting on our real lives, The Stars and the Blackness between Them is not just a story about two girls who love each other and trying to navigate in a world that rejects them and learning to love each other. It’s also a story that we can reflect upon, a story about the connections that we form with other people in our lives, our friends and family, and the people whom we never want to let go of. It’s a story that you can reflect upon when it seems everything around you is trying to rip you apart. A tale about how we go about our daily lives even when death knocks on the door, and it’s a love letter to our home whether it be our home or in the stars. It’s a love letter to queer people and a beautiful depiction of what it means to love yourself and others as queer Black people. This book has active elements of homophobia, homophobic violence, death and themes of dying.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Junauda Petrus

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