Cover Image: Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution

Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution

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Member Reviews

High school was rough enough prior to social media, I can’t even imagine how high school kids today deal. Everything is always online and this constant need to post. Lark and Kasim took on this lie that they thought would help, but only made things worse. Living a lie will always catch up to you, and when the truth comes out, sometimes, it’s not pretty. This was a cute read and I love the Queer representation.
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Another great book from Kacen Callender. I was able to get emotionally attached to the characters, which is a must for me to give a high star review for a book. I enjoyed the plot, characters, and while the writing style was a little odd, in an almost stream of consciousness type of way,  I think it worked for this book.
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LARK & KASIM START A REVOLUTION is the recent release from bestselling author Kacen Callender. Lark is a Black, queer, nonbinary, and neurodivergent teen who hopes to snag thousands of Twitter followers and a book deal for an unfinished novel. Kasim accidentally uses Lark's phone to send tweets from their account confessing unrequited love. When they go viral, Lark takes credit for the tweets and uses them to their advantage to get a date with their crush. However, the tweets Kasim made were all about his love for Lark. 

This novel was just as captivating as all of Kacen's previous novels. Their attention to the major parts within relationship that move friendship forward is remarkable. It was a pleasure to be able to dive into these characters' lives and see often marginalized and rarely represented experiences be placed on paper.
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This was a beautifully diverse YA romance celebrating the differences and struggles nonbinary and trans people face every day! Told with such an honest voice that resonated so much for me with what many BIPOC teens today have to deal with - from racism, transmisia, cancel culture, depression, social media addiction and more.

I really loved the neurodiversity, autism and polyamorous rep from Lark's character and the mental health rep from Kasim's as these two former best friends try to navigate their evolving friendship and an unexpected declaration of love.

Great on audio narrated by Qamar Yochanan and highly recommended for fans of authors like Joya Goffney, Katalina Gamarra or Elyse Bryant. Lark's journey to increase her social media presence and query agents to get her book published was another highlight for me especially as she struggled with being honest and staying true to herself.

Much thanks to NetGalley and the author for an early digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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Even though it started off strong, this book just wasn't for me. I couldn't relate to the characters at all.
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There is so much to appreciate in this book - neurodivergency, trans voice, nonbinary representation... This is one with real, messy characters that you root for. Definitely a contemporary YA novel that I want everyone to read.
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The nonbinary and queer representation was amazing in this. Pronouns were easy to follow and keep track of.

This book was a pretty disappointing read from someone I consider an amazing writer. I now understand what people mean when they say a book feels "millennial." I do think there were amazing discussions through out the novel but it read very forced and out of place, bordering on childish. The Birdie character was also distracting and didn't really add anything to the plot.

There was a very big shift around half way through. Maybe this was on purpose to show that main character, Lark, was changing but wow the writing went from completely rambling, long stream of consciousness to much more bearable interactions. It felt like reading two different books. 

I didn't feel a huge stake in the main conflict. It felt like there was a lot of drama surrounding the fact that Lark lied. In reality, I don't know that one lie is as deep as the book made them seem. 

There was a lot of boundary discussions which was great to see but at other times, the boundaries seemed more like the person instilling a boundary needed to work on their own traumas and stop projecting them onto someone else.

Eli's character was poorly developed in my opinion. There was 0 foreshadowing about what his character would be, which just seemed to be out of nowhere.
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My experience with Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution was mixed. I enjoyed the characters, rooted for them, but also felt exhausted by them—sounds just like a stereotypical old person responding to teens, doesn't it?

I am, however, not the intended audience for this book. It's written for and about a community of nonbinary teens, most of them POC. That's a community that is hugely underrepresented (times infinity) in current publishing. I will be recommending Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution to my students, buying copies of it to share, and looking forward to future titles from this author.

If you enjoy YA literature and/or want more depictions of nonbinary, POC youth, grab this book. Read it, then pass on your copy to someone who needs it. We all have people who fit that description in our lives.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.
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I always enjoy a good Kacen Callander book and I feel that Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution was another great addition to his discography. L&K's main focus, I feel,  is the state of America today in regards to current racial and queer conflicts a lot of Americans are feeling, particularly during/after the pandemic. With Black Lives Matter, George Floyd (and countless other African Americans killed by cops/gun violence), and the constant dehumanization of queer people and people of color, Kasim is beginning to wonder if there is any light at the end of such a dark tunnel. Kasim is 17 and semi-famous on twitter, they advocate for love and acceptance, even when you disagree with the person. But they're also neurodivergent, which causes some misunderstandings between them, their peers, and their followers. What starts as a series of misunderstandings begins to unravel the carefully curated life Kasim has created for themselves.  
Lark was Kasim's best friend, until he wasn't, and neither can figure out why. Sure they fought a lot about right and wrong and what makes a good person and what makes a bad person and how to properly respond to racism in America, but Kasim has just been so much angrier as of late, and Lark doesn't know how to help him. When Kasim accidently posts a twitter feed meant for his personal twitter on Lark's feed and becomes an overnight sensation, Kasim decides to take the fall for it and play it off as if they were the one to write it. Thrust back into each other's lives, truths begin to be revealed and they begin to grow closer once again. But will it be enough to mend what was previously broken between them? Or could it even possibly develop into more? 
Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution was a fun read and also quick to get through. I finished it in 1 sitting! It definitely reads very YA with lots of Gen-Z references, so if you're not a big fan of YA, you might not enjoy this one. Also, I love when YA books have queer rep, and in this book, almost every single character is queer! All-in-all this was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to any fans of the YA genre.
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Kacen Callender is one of my favorite YA authors. His tender, beautiful, emotional first-person narratives, poetic language, and sometimes magical blend of the real and imagined world are what continually draw me to their titles - Felix Ever After and King and the Dragonflies broke my heart and built them back up again. I know that Callender has had a fraught relationship with social media, and all their complex feelings are reflected in their new book Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution. Lark is a nonbinary teen with a large Twitter following—something they feel they have to do in order to get the attention of literary agents and publishers. Their dream is to be a published author, and we see their journey and missteps unfold through their eyes. We also see them learn to move on from their close friendship with Kasim, a friend with whom they had a falling out. Lark and Kasim have never quite put the pieces of themselves back together after their fight, and we see each struggling with the society trauma of being trans teens of color. While they're both in the same after school and summer writing program, they have different ideas of what it means to make it. For Lark, becoming a published author is the only way to authenticity, while Kasim is happy to be himself and sit in his words, and let those he's closest to enjoy and believe in them. 

I appreciated some of what I perceived as a self-insert here—the pressure to be a certain person online, to be who others think you should be, all in the name of following your dream, and the damage done in pursuing it. However, the titular "revolution" never came for me. I'm not quite sure what it was—Lark and Kasim finally figuring it out? (And like, are they polyamorous? Are they friends? Lovers? More?) Lark realizing they don't need to be anybody but themselves to be a writer? Or is it that we don't need social media to validate us as human beings? The message got muddled for me in the drama of Lark and Kasim's various intertwined relationships. This one missed the mark for me a bit, which is disappointing. I never really latched onto either Lark or Kasim's character, and they ended up each annoying me for different reasons with their unnecessary complexity throughout the book. 

While I hope that Callender continues to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ teenagers in their tender and accurate way, I just hope the next book has more sympathetic, complex characters that we got in Lark and Kasim.
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4.5 stars
A captivating, reflective and emotional story about learning to love yourself and owning up to your mistakes.

Defaulting to people-pleasing to ensure their safety, hiding their feelings and avoiding conflict, Lark - a non-binary, Black, trans and neurodivergent teen - remains isolated and misunderstood by most. But once a Twitter post on Lark's account (which they didn't write) goes viral, it sets off a chain of events that will bring about changes they desperately need in their life.

Lark and Kasim's story gripped me from the start. The main characters felt real and truly relatable, and I loved the journey Lark went through to find courage, start creating boundaries and learn to love themselves. From racism, ableism, mental health issues, healing from trauma, bullying, taking accountability for your mistakes, systemic oppression, power of introverts and many more, this novel was powerful, emotional and sometimes difficult to read. The only issues I had with it is that the discussions felt repetitive and preachy sometimes and some reactions were quite exaggerated in my opinion. Apart from that, I resonated with this story and recommend it to anyone who ever felt discriminated against.
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Lark's voice is very vibrant throughout these pages. Their voice is young and fresh, naive at times, but so loving and open. I really enjoyed listening in on their thought process, especially as they navigate these modern teenage years. I finally feel removed enough from early High School for Lark's experience to be completely different from mine. I loved how much queerness was happening in these pages. I loved hearing about how COVID was affecting their experience. I loved that there was an emphasis on reading and writing. 
At times, Lark's voice did feel a little whiney, and I had a hard time connecting to their self-doubt. I know this is a personal experience, as I have been wanting to move past insecure characters for a long time, and I know many people will be able to relate. 
I particularly loved how many nonbinary characters there were, particularly nonbinary people of color. I feel these voices are underrepresented in literature and media as a whole, which was a theme throughout the book as Lark navigates their relationship on social media. 
In many ways, the trajectory of this book was set up in a very traditional style, with an overarching message that the characters are trying to convey through various scenarios in which they play out their mistakes and finally arrive at the foregone conclusion. I didn't hate this very classic exposition juxtaposed with how much social modernity also filled the pages, although at times it did feel a little incongruent. 
Overall, the book was easy to read and very beautiful. I find myself looking forward to reading more from Callender.
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This book really hits hard and is one that I think teens (and adults!) can relate to and learn from. I'll be honest, most of this book was painful for me -- it was painful to watch the characters make mistakes and it was painful to see the bullying, both in person and online, that Lark experiences (Twitter *shudders*). But this pain is relatable because we've all been there, which is what Lark and their friends and classmates learn - we're all human, we all make mistakes, and we all need to learn and grow and take accountability. While the plot focuses on Lark's Twitter interactions, writing classes, and friend drama, there's also great conversations about the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, neurodiversity, as well as examinations of mental health and trauma. I really love that all of the characters are Black, and most of the teens are queer and many are non-binary and trans. This book is both timely and important and I'm so glad it exists!
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This was a little chaotic for me. I had trouble connecting with and not getting irritated by some of the characters. And ultimately felt kind of exhausted by them. 

However, I’m not the target audience for this book and I think it’s important and people should read it. I loved the representation and that really drives the story. There’s not a lot of plot here but I kept reading because of the diverse world. I enjoyed the polyamorous romance. 

Ultimately, the author is a little heavy handed in speaking through the characters and I found myself just kind of going through the motions here. I think teens, queer teens and neurodivergent readers will appreciate the representation and the way the narrative sines together.
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This YA novel covered a lot of hot button issues of the current nascent decade: the experience of the pandemic, racism and police brutality, lgbtqia identities, trans rights, and polyamory, among others. It was set in a true to life Philadelphia, which was delightful. I think you'd already need to have well established knowledge and ideas of the issues in the novel, and maybe to have had similar experiences and feelings to the main characters to really vibe with it; it wasn't an introductory or explanatory kind of text. I know the right audience will love it. I don't doubt it could be a new generation's The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
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4.25 Stars

Thank you to Amulet Books and Netgalley for an earc of this one!

Lark is trying to get her twitter followers up so they can sell a book, and they miss their best friend and wish that they didn't always fight with Kasim now. But when he accidentally posts a status about unrequited love to Lark's twitter instead of his own, the post goes viral and Lark decides to lie and say it was their story. The lie spirals and things don't turn out the way they hoped.

This was so good! I love Kacen Callender so much.  This is super introspective and the writing style was really different from usual YA contemporaries. I think it really worked, especially as coming from Lark's pov and the way they described their own writing. Lark is a super interesting character and I really loved the way they saw and explained the world. I definitely think this different writing style worked within its context.

Okay I love Kasim. He is such a good side character/love interest and I really liked the way he acted as a foil for Lark. And Sable was amazing!

There is so much love for the societal "other" in this book. Queerness and Blackness and Neurodivergence. So good!
Content Warnings
Graphic: Bullying and Toxic relationship

Moderate: Mental illness, Gaslighting, Panic attacks/disorders, and Racism

Minor: Suicidal thoughts
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I was so excited to read this book! I loved Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender and was hoping that this book would have a similar writing style. While there were many things that I loved about this book (the queer, poly, trans and nonbinary, and neurodivergent representation), I was disappointed by the majority of the story. I found Lark, the narrator, very hard to connect to because their very extensive monologues were incredibly exhausting to read. I felt emotionally drained after each chapter because of the choices that Lark made, which meant that it took me two months to finish this book. I was not a fan of Birdie’s character, and I truly believe the story would have flowed better without them; I was never sure what their purpose was as a character. The main conflict also felt very unrelatable– I felt as though my relationship with social media prevented me from being able to find meaning within the conflict, which is centered all around social media. All of that being said: I think this is a great book for educators to have in their classroom libraries because I do think that many younger readers will see themselves represented in these pages. There was a nice best friends to enemies to lovers plot line, and again, I really appreciated all of the representation that this book offered!
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What a great, very timely novel from an author I already adore. I loved the relationship of the characters and all of the things they went through together to become stronger.
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This book is going to be exactly the right book at the right time for a young, queer, Black reader (and hopefully many of those readers as well as other young readers who are allies.) Reading it as an older straight, cisgender adult, I was underwhelmed. But this book wasn't written for me. I appreciate what Callender did in calling out Goodreads reviews as part of the book because I feel like whatever I write in my review, it will never be adequate
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Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution by Karen Callender is a book I was totally excited for. I fell in love with Felix Ever After and have since said I will read anything they write. This story follows Lark, a neurodivergent nonbinary teen that is looking to grow their twitter account in order to seek representation for a book that they are writing. When their on again/off again friend, Kasim accidentally posts to Lark's twitter account, it blows up with thousands of more followers and a slew more personal problems. But it's all about social media and the followers you have, right?

Initially, I really enjoyed the representation all around in this book. The BIPOC and variety of queer characters is exactly what we need to see in more books, especially YA where we have a lot of kids questioning their identity and just trying to figure out who they are and to be accepted. The story itself seemed a bit messy between Lark, Kasim, their friends at the community center and their family. But was this intentional? Because the lives of teens are messy and flawed and the story definitely reflected that. Another plus was the way life was represented in post pandemic America. It was realistic and relatable. 

With the combination of representation, social media and relevant times, I think this book will sit well with the age group it is intended for. I just felt it lacked more depth and a strong focus for me. Plus, Lark wasn't my favorite character. Since this story is told completely from their POV, I feel like I got to know them well and would've liked for a more honest and open character. But they did grow and they do figure out themselves throughout. I think that was one reason we had Birdie there too. They were like the voice of reason (that Lark didn't always listen to).

Overall, this was an okay story that had the potential to be great. I would've liked it to be more cohesive, but the messy lives of teens was done well along with the variety of representation. Even if this wasn't my favorite, I'm excited to see what Karen Callender will write next.
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