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Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution

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Member Reviews

Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution is a young adult literary fiction with romance elements. One of the things I appreciated about this book as a writer is the reality of trying to obtain representation from a literary agent while trying to navigate through social situations. There's a push-pull romance between Lark and their former best friend Kasim, who is trying to sort out their feelings for Lark and their underlying depression after so much loss. While Lark and Kasim make many mistakes in conducting their thoughts and feelings through miscommunication, they ultimately find their way back to each other. The essential theme of the story is to be true to yourself and your feelings, and not be pressured by society to do things that don't make you comfortable. I was happy that everyone found their happily ever after in the end as expected in a Romance.
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I feel so conflicted about this book! While I believe that young people can have mature, respectful, deep and well articulated conversations, the dialogue, which was the driving force of the book, felt forced or false or otherwise fell flat often. If the characters had been aged up to millennials - lot of the references seem more suited to that generation - perhaps it would have been a bit more believable. That being said, I loved seeing a black queer non-binary newly poly human winning - healed a little piece of my black queer non-binary heart. I loved Felix Ever After to pieces and I think both of these novels could’ve used tighter editing to get more concisely at the heart of it all.
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All Lark Winters wants is to be a writer. They know that part of that process is building a social media presence, so that's what they've been working on. After all, if they've got a big enough following, agents and publishers will have to pay attention, right? At least, that's what they thought at first.

Until Lark's ex-best friend, Kasim accidentally posts a Twitter thread about unrequited love on Lark's account. And it goes viarl. To protect Kasim, Lark takes the blame. But as Lark's social media stats start to explore, they realize that living a lie isn't as easy as they thought. Lark tries to be the person everyone thinks they are, but the costs of being perfect are high. Maybe, it might be better just to come clean.'

Thanks to NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids for an advanced copy of Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution to review! Kacen Callender is a favorite author of mine, so I'm always excited to see what they come up with. You're always sure to get a book with great characters and a strong message, and this book was no different!

While this might not be my favorite of Callender's books (Felix Ever After still holds that spot), there's so much to love about this book. Particularly, Lark's own struggles getting publishing and having an "authentic" teen voice. More often than not, the voice is what separates YA from adult books to me, and Lark is a literal teeanger trying to publish a book. But time and time again, they are rejected for being "too teen" or "not Black enough." Their process getting publishing triggers a kind of identity crisis for them, and I imagine it reflects Callender's own struggles getting published.

I can just imagine the Goodreads reviews now that say that Lark isn't the most likeable character at the beginning, but that's 100% the point of the story. It's about their journey realizing some of the stuff they were doing was problematic, and figuring out how to unlearn those things. Let teenagers just be teenagers in YA without criticizing the way they think. I'll say it again: THEY ARE TEENAGERS.

Anyway, the main reason this isn't getting a full 5 stars from me is because I wanted so much more of the relationship between Lark and Kasim. It's the title of the book, and yet not a whole lot of the book is dedicated to the two of them. They actually have very few scenes together. Their dynamic was one of the most interesting in the book, and I just wish we got to see more of that.

All in all, if you love introspective, character driven stories with a side of social media commentary, this is definitely the book for you!
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this eARC.

Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution follows nonbinary neurodivergent teen Lark, an aspiring author who is working hard to build their social media following in the hopes that a platform will help their writing career. When their former best friend Kasim accidentally posts to Lark's twitter about his secret crush, Lark is thrown headfirst into Twitter fame. To protect Kasim, Lark feigns that they posted the thread on accident instead.

There was a lot to like about this book, particularly the rep. Lark is Black, nonbinary, neurodivergent; Kasim is Black and trans; and multiple other characters are also BIPOC and poly. The ultimate message of the story was one of introspection, of self-love and people-love, and especially the idea that people are capable of growth and change. I also enjoyed Kacen Callender's writing style quite a lot.

What I struggled with was the ways in which this book attempted to be modern and relevant. On the one hand, this is one of the first post-COVID books I've read that actually handles life after a pandemic well, which was exciting to see. On the other hand, the teens in this book don't feel like post-COVID Gen Z teens. Lark, especially, felt like a direct product of the 2014 Tumblr era, particularly due to the constant Hamilton references (Hamilton, after all, hit Broadway in 2015, when neither Lark nor their friends would have even been teenagers. Though I understand and acknowledge Hamilton's continued influence on pop culture today, modern teens generally seem to have a more nuanced and critical take on the musical, which didn't really feel reflected on the page). Another contributing factor to this was the use of Twitter. There are plenty of teens who use Twitter, sure, and a lot of the tweets did read accurately to modern Twitter, but it's hard to believe that a Gen Z main character would read as so generally Twitter illiterate, to the point where they're being directly told why people are upset with them, and they still don't understand what they did to upset people. Because these choices didn't feel genuine to a modern teen to me, important plot moments like Lark not understanding why people are mad at them and Lark's misguided apology end up feeling like they were simply tacked in because that's how Twitter cancellations happen, not because any of these choices were necessarily true to the character. I don't think that's necessarily wrong, but I do wish that more work had been put into crafting Lark to where I could believe that they genuinely didn't understand what was going on, or at least understood their perspective enough to feel conflicted over their situation. 

Despite my struggles and reservations with this book, I do think it was good and important and had a fantastic message, and I think fans of Kacen Callender in particular will thoroughly enjoy this read.
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First, thank you to the publishers and to NetGalley for an e-copy in exchange for a fair and honest review!

While I'm not the target audience for this book, I'm super glad I read it. I really wish it would have been there when I was younger and growing up and feeling all the feelings and collecting traumas like the porcelain dolls your grandmother always pushed on you that you never actually wanted and tried your best to refuse but had to carry them anyway because that's what was expected. I would have loved it, held it close, cherished it like I believe it needs to be cherished, read it over and over until the spine was worn and cracked. It's an important read, and I recognize that fully and the book has all my support!

That being said, it wasn't a hard read but a slow one, a lengthy one. It was hard for me to stay focused because some things just dragged. Lots of things felt... almost unresolved, despite the length of the novel. It meandered. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing. For me, it was hard to stay immersed in the world Kacen Callender was creating.

I'll give it another go when I have the time because I really love the premise and I enjoyed it overall!

4/5
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I’m not sure how to rate this book. While it wasn’t an enjoyable read, it was definitely an important one. It gave insights into the queer black community that as a cis white woman, I would never know. I really appreciate the chance to learn so much about a community that so deeply needs to be respected and understood. This book felt like a very intense therapy session. I feel lucky to have read it, but am also overwhelmed by the intensity.
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I am a big fan of Kacen’s work overall and I liked this book about learning to love yourself. I think that it did move too slowly at times and there were a lot of subplots that felt underdeveloped, but it was a good read overall.
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3 stars 

Kacen Callender is a vital presence in the wonderful worlds of YA and middle grade, and I enjoy their work so much that it can even be found in my profile pic. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting to find myself underwhelmed with this most recent effort. Unfortunately, that's the case. 

The standout feature of this novel - and the one that will have me undoubtedly recommending it to students despite my middling feelings overall - is the representation. Respectively, the titular characters are nonbinary and trans, and Lark is neurodivergent. Both characters' intersectional identities shape their experiences with each other and in the world, and I will never turn down a novel with this kind of expansive representation. 

For me, the book moves too slowly. Lark is a p-r-o-c-e-s-s-o-r. Readers spend a lot of time in Lark's mind, and while that provides insight into the thought patterns and perceptions of a neurodivergent character, it also happens so frequently that it feels distracting. Along with the pacing, I also struggled with some aspects of the plot that felt underdeveloped and/or in need of more explanation. I was on board with the concept all along, but I never felt the development, connection, and engagement that I've been used to in Callender's previous works. 

To be clear, this is absolutely a worthy read, and I'll be recommending it to students specifically because of the representation. That noted, I'm hoping that future books from this author remind me more of _Felix_ and _King_ than this more recent effort.
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As a huge fan of Kacen Callender’s middle grade fiction, I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good fit for me. I will say that the characters were amazing. It was refreshing to see LGBTQIA++ characters represented with love and acceptance. I will be pleased to purchase this title for my HS library because many of the students will see themselves in this book. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I love the LGBT+ representation but this the way the story was written is hard to keep up with. There are a lot of points that were made that makes absolutely no sense it was almost like reading a middle grade book in sense how some points got mentioned over and order just beat the lesson in. Overall, it was a DNF about 25o pages into the book.
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Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution is at once an absolutely beautiful book that everyone should get their hands on, and one that I feel entirely unqualified to write a review for because it is not a book written for me. The two lead characters are black and queer (and anxious and depressed and neurodivergent), in a cast of characters that is made up almost entirely of BIPOC and queer and neurodivergent. I'm not part of that community, so for me to offer anything like a critique would be entirely out of place here. On the other hand, it's important that these two things exist at once, and that in itself is the beauty of Lark & Kasim.

Instead, let me tell you why this book feels important, as a high school teacher. First, there is not a singular white character to be seen throughout the book. As a teacher in a rural indigenous high school, this type of representation is going to be huge. Second, the pandemic is an overarching conversation throughout the story without being a major point of anxiety. For students who have had to live through these past few years and adapt to the way that life is now, this normalization of talking about the pandemic from teenager characters was refreshingly safe feeling. Third, the characters are allowed to talk about their anger - when it comes to racism, bullying online and off, family, etc - and it all feels genuine. Fourth, there is a very great discussion of how social media impacts teenagers and mental health in a way that adults cannot always get at in a singular conversation. And, lastly, the normalization of neurodivergence and mental health struggles that so many teenagers deal with nowadays will connect with a lot of students.

Essentially, while this book might not have been written for me, I am so excited to help get it into the hands of the ones it absolutely was written for.
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lark and kasim start a revolution by kacen callender: 4/5 stars

i really enjoyed reading this. i read most of it while in lines at disneyland, and it was a satisfying way to spend my day. i’m a big fan of felix ever after, and many of callender’s strengths seen in felix are evident here: a strong voice, realistic teenagers and adults, nuance and complications in relationships/situations/conversations, an exploration of queer Blackness. and while i know there’s a need for coming out books, i loved that this was self-exploratory without being a coming out story. 

there were a few things i think could have been a little stronger: lark’s relationships with eli and with his bullies didn’t feel as thorough as the ones with his friends, which i get but it made some of the resolutions feel rushed. i didn’t feel as strong connection with lark as i did with felix, which may just be the voice. there’s a lot of softness in this book, and sometimes lark came off as whiny. but this is also a ya book and teens are whiny, as am i at 34. 

would recommend this and will continue to read callender’s work.
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I'm not sure I've ever read something that so accurately captured the feelings of being a bunch of queer teens in an arts collective. Some people are going to think this many trans kids in one place is unrealistic, or this many polyam kids, or this many autistic kids and witches and artists and activists and especially especially Black kids, but I've seen this group before. It's not even that there are pockets of society like that- this is just what society is. So I don't find Lark to be unrealistic, or a bad protagonist. I do, however, find them to be a bit of a stressful one. A book about cancel culture and accountability, particularly between young people, is a timely, important, and interesting one, but we end up with a lot of the panic and not a ton of the resolution. The book is interspersed with Lark's tweets, and the replies and conversations people have about them. While Lark does spend parts of the book talking about this, it can feel a bit disconnected; Lark feels anxiety at the idea of being unliked online, but doesn't seem to interact with the specifics of the criticism, doesn't seem overly invested in correcting or evaluating their online presence, and doesn't seem to reflect on the issues (and unfair criticism) that others bring up. The same can sometimes go for the in-person bullying. Lark spends a lot of time worried about if they are a toxic person, and if they could be without even knowing, and the bullies spend a lot of time twisting Lark's actions and words, but Lark doesn't seem to do a lot of reflection beyond the morality of the initial "taking credit for the tweets" plot. The ending of the book rests on a discussion of accountability versus canceling and bullying, but we never get any good answers or discussion on what constitutes a problematic action, a useful reparation. But this critique of the book walks a fine line as well. As a Black, trans, and neurodivergent protagonist, Lark knows that they will be judged more harshly by anyone watching them, and it's difficult to look at them as an annoying or immature character with this lens. With more books about people that fall into those categories, we'll be able to have broader character types- even in this book, Lark almost exclusively dates other trans people, who all have distinct personalities, goals, and dreams- and the value of the dynamics in this book outweigh the character issues. Another carefully crafted work from Callender, though maybe one that could have included its main character a little more in the ethical discussions it wants to raise.
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Not sure why, but I wasn't able to finish this book. I typically like to read books pretty rapidly -- in a sitting or two -- but it took me a week to get through half of this book and after that, I decided not to finish it. That being said, I did love the amount of queer characters in this book -- trans and nonbinary characters are so normalized in this book and it's a breath of fresh air to not read trans storylines that feature a high amount of transphobia -- and I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for this.
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DNF

The Birdie thing is really throwing me off, and sadly I can’t do the middle grade reading level.  Wanted to try for Kacen Callender but the writing style is hard for me too read
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Like many of my students, I’m a fan of Kacen Callender. With LARK & KASIM START A REVOLUTION, Callender takes on a lot. There’s bullying, activism, found family, online presence (and pressure!) and polyamory. I’m so glad to see a book, especially one by such a talented author, write teens who are exploring and/or identifying as polyamorous. I hear it mentioned more often, especially in the context of someone saying, “I’m poly.” 

One of my favorite parts of the novel is the relationship Callender creates between Kasim and Lark’s mother, the familial ties that further complicate the relationship between Kasim and Lark, forcing them together even when the two had drifted apart. 

All of the social media references and pop culture references pull attention from the characters at times, which makes sense for Lark’s goals in particular. However, it does make it harder to stay as connected to the characters compared to Callender’s other novels.
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First I want to give a shout-out To netgalley and ABRAM kids for letting me receive an ARC of this book. I was excited to get this book because I have heard a lot of positive things about Felix ever after which is another one of their books.
Firstly, I want to say that for a YA this book hits DEEP. It is real, raw, and honest. I read this book quickly but there were parts of this book that were really difficult to read and pretty upsetting. So I am just putting that out there. You will 100% want to check trigger warning before reading this. I really identified with the main character, Lark. Specifically with them being nerodivergent and narrating this story. I felt like my brain was Larks brain at times, being Neurodivergent myself. Park rambles and goes on tangents, and gets off topic which is totally related to and felt SEEN. I think that might be off-putting to some readers but I really enjoyed it. It is the best Neurodivergent rep I have seen for a narrator of a book. I LOVED how freaking queer this book was. It was a **chef’s kiss** and it was WONDERFUL!!! So much good representation! Also Larks journey to loving themselves was beautiful. This book is again not your typical fluffy YA and  was very upsetting to read. There was not enough happy to counter balance the sad for me which left me a bit uneasy. I didn’t feel like the conflicts were full resolved either which also attributed to the uneasiness. I also didn’t feel like romance aspect of the book added to the plot for me and felt no super genuine. Overall this book is really going to resonate with a lot of people. I don’t think it is the book for me, but I do think that there are a lot of young adults and teens that are going to feel represented and seen through reading this book!
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Every once in a while I will read a book that leaves me feeling really conflicted, and this is one of those books. 

Let me start by saying that I loved the diversity of these characters. As a neurodivergent, non-binary person I really loved seeing so many beautifully written characters that fit into those groups. I also really enjoyed the dynamics of all of their interactions (even Micah and Patch’s interactions with Lark) and think that each character held their own unique personality really well. I also really liked that the story was able to showcase some of the side effects that social media can have. Because while it can be a really positive experience, sometimes it can be really toxic. 

That being said, what I’m really conflicted about is Lark’s romantic relationships. None of them felt really organic or authentic, and I really wasn’t sold on Lark having romantic feelings for Sable at all. At most I felt that they were attracted to Sable but just didn’t buy that they were interested in a relationship. I felt that both the relationship with Eli and the attempt at one with Sable were based merely on attraction. Ultimately I’m happy that Lark and Kasim were able to work things out but definitely thought they needed more time to work things out with themselves before committing to a relationship. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Abrams for providing me with this arc in exchange for my review.
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Lark & Kasim Start A Revolution was good! Lark is a 17 year old non-binary writer. They think that if they hit 50k followers on Twitter, they will get a publishing deal. One night, their friend Kasim accidentally posts a confession of unrequited love onto Lark’s Twitter, and then asks Lark to pretend it’s their own. The tweet changes Lark’s life in unexpected ways.

My expectations were pretty high because of how much I loved Callender’s other books. This one didn’t seem as well paced. Lark is neurodivergent so there were lots of tangents and rambling inner thoughts. The representation in this book was phenomenal and I think many adolescent readers will feel seen in this book.
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While I’m not the target audience for this novel and neither are my middle school tweens, it took a lot of effort to get through this book and I’ve read other Callender works and loved them, so it isn’t the author. This book was filled with pop culture references, song lyrics, and Tik Tok dialogue which was confusing and seemed to detract from the story. I also found the bullying aspect to be very harsh.
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