Cover Image: Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution

Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution

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Member Reviews

This book feels super difficult to review, because so much of the book has this meta-commentary about criticism, particularly white criticism of Black writers, and I do not want to fall into the same problems the book is trying in many ways to address. So given that I am a white person who was given this eARC in exchange for a review and thus need to give my thoughts, I am going to try my best to keep this as positive and clear as I can. I loved everything this book had to say, without qualifier, but I sometimes struggled with how it was delivered. I know that part of the story is the fact that it’s narrated by a character who is neurodivergent and so as a result, this shows in the way it’s written, but especially in the first 100 pages, the way that Lark’s internal monologue about huge concepts (time or our universe or like, human rights) leads to scenes being broken up and almost confusing. And while maybe that’s kind of the point, it is jarring for me as an adult reader to have to sometimes go back a few pages to remember where we are in the action of the scene, because it was interrupted by long internal monologue, but I am concerned that for young readers it will be more than jarring and instead be confusing or a hindrance to their understanding or connection to the book. Especially in the first 100 pages, we get so many diversions from the plot in order to hear about these bigger ideas about the world and politics and etc., it’s hard to feel any connection to the story or characters, because it feels like all we have of them are their opinions on these big ideas and not a lot of their actual personalities yet? (And to be clear, these monologues are beautiful and thoughtful  and I am not complaining about their content, just how they end up interrupting scenes at times). IDK ultimately that doesn’t mean the story isn’t good or well written, but it does make me feel like it narrows the audience of students I would recommend this book to, because not every kid can or will be able to get through/connect with this style of writing— And that’s the point, of course: This is not a book written for everyone, and that’s okay. I do think teachers/librarians should read this book themselves so that they know what it’s like and can guide students to it that will connect to it, but that’s true of most books! Idk!
The romance, representation, and message are all beautiful in a way that is reliable from Callender’s writing, and is what always makes me excited to read their work. The concerns I have about how accessible this book might be to a wide audience of kids, paired with it being not my personal fav genre anyway (I’m really a fantasy/sci fi person 4 lyfe, contemporary fiction is not my jam), makes this book something like a 3.5/5 for me.
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Thanks Netgalley and Amulet Books for this eARC, these opinions are my own. I’m a fan of Kacen Callender’s previous books so I was excited to get this eARC! There was a lot of good things in this book but it wasn’t quite my thing. I loved that this was full of teen queers! Representation is so important and I feel this book really showcased that! I also liked the representation of Lark and neurodivergent people! It’s nice to see more representation for Disabilities as well! There are people who will absolutely love this book, I just struggled a little. I think it could be something I need to read more then once to click. That being said I would definitely recommend it!
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7/10, rounded up.
Thank you NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids for the arc!

This is my first Kacen Callender book, so I wasn't really sure what to expect going in. However, from the cover and description, I was expecting Black and nonbinary characters, but I was not expecting there to be ADHD and autism rep, as well as polyamory! As someone who is in a polyam triad, I thought the way they discussed the relationship was very mature - allowing the characters to realize that even though they all like each other it may not be the best time for them to be in a relationship at the moment, then having conversations about it in the future and deciding to be together. I am not Black so I can't speak on that, but I am nonbinary, autistic and ADHD, and polyamorous and thought that the rep of all of those things was really well written! I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who is interested!

Things I liked:
- The representation!!
- The way social media is portrayed felt realistic
- I thought the comments on writings that the different students in their creative writing class did was cool to see
- I loved the character profiles
- A lot of the interactions in general felt realistic to me

Some of my issues with the book:
- I didn't like Birdie
- I thought that there were too many plot points that weren't resolved and was just a bit messy
- I didn't like Jamal not wanting to be Lark's friend because they were lying on the internet and triggered by it - everyone lies sometimes and it's a part of life and the way it was phrased made me uncomfortable
- I thought that the self reflection that Lark did was really good in terms of their personal life, but I wish they also reflected on their ideals, specifically relating to cops and their community. It also seems like Lark and Kasim have differing views on how to handle the discriminations they face that they both feel strongly about and I feel like should be discussed more for them to have a proper relationship
- Everyone being okay with Lark getting bullied in class - Kasim + the teacher not saying anything to stop it
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I’m a big believer in the power of representation in literature and so happy to see more trans, nonbinary, and neurodivergent characters on the bookshelves this year. So imagine my delight coming across Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution, an upcoming YA novel that takes representation to the next level. With non-binary, neurodivergent, and trans people of color taking center stage, this novel is RICH in representation.

Aspiring author Lark has a novel inside them and sees Twitter as their means to visibility among publishers and agents. If they can just get to 50K followers, they’re in! So when Kasim, their former best friend, accidentally posts about a secret crush on Lark’s Twitter account instead of his own, Lark makes the choice to save face, protect Kasim, and pretend the post is their own. They even go a step further by naming their crush, which stirs up lots of online activity, their first relationship, and a whole lot of mixed up feelings made all the more confusing by Lark’s neurodivergent processing, Kasim’s constant irritating presence, and a mess of online comments. It’s a bumpy ride through romance in the modern world, as experienced through the eyes of a neurodivergent teen, to an ultimate place of self-love and acceptance. I cringed with every one of their missteps, cried with every heartbreak, and cheered so hard for their happiness. (3.75 🌟 rounded to 4)

Big thanks to NetGalley and Kacen Callender for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for my honest review. Lark & Kasim Start A Revolution will be out 27 September 2022.
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I'm guessing I'm not Kacen Callender's target audience for this book, but it's still a good book to recommend to middle grade or YA readers. Kacen is always an interesting writer!
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I have always enjoyed Callender’s books and this was no exception. I loved how realistically the characters were created and developed throughout the story and the story itself was engaging. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to expand their LGBTQIA+ shelves.
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First impressions: my first Kacen Callender book! About a ND nonbinary Black Teen!!

What this book does well:
I think there's important conversations about generational trauma, the issues with using social media making yourself to be less authentic because certain things get likes and certain things don’t. Linking your self esteem to follower count/likes & the way trolls can twist you into someone you're not. The conversations on how Black folks are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or Autism and just be labeled violent and difficult so self diagnosis is sometimes necessary was really important but I wished that was further explored.I also really liked the commentary on being a writer and how publishers just miss the mark of understanding. Saying things like, there can’t be so many characters with they/them pronouns because they’ve never met one person who uses those pronouns. Like way to be small minded & I heavily disagreed with what those rejections were tryna say.
I loved sable and birdie, they were the sound of reason to me.
The way the characters were introduced was helpful to keep track of everyone and even though there is a large cast of characters they were all pretty distinct.

On the fence:

I am not sure how I feel about the poly representation. I'm glad this conversation is being had with teens. And when things Do end up working out with Kasim & Lark & Sable it's pretty cute and not vulgar at all. But I kinda wish that was the main focus of the book. Its a cute subplot but i'm not sure enough was said to get a full picture on polyamory. I know how easily teens can latch onto phrases they don't fully understand to seem more grown up as a former teen who did this and a teen librarian. 

What i didn’t like:

If you don't like reading pop culture references and song lyrics you will not like this book. I got most of the references because i'm pretty sure me and this author are on the same side of tik tok (28-32 YO Black non binary adult who likes to read and write tok). There was a lot of information which oftentimes felt like scrolling on tik tok and I wish less was said so it could be delved into more. There's a lot of base level knowledge shared that IMO requires more nuance. Especially the conversations about weed. While Callender wasn’t wrong with their points (white folks smoke and get away with it and open cannabis shops while black folks get locked up for nonviolent carrying offenses which isn’t right.) I think I just needed this topic to be given a lot of importance considering our teens are smoking younger and younger. Once again I’m a teen librarian and while i know the teens are engaging in those activities (bc they literally don't even try to hide it ) I don't want them reading a half explored truth to continue using weed as their ONLY coping mechanism, because trust me they are not quick to consider others. 
Patch & Micah were the actual worst and why didn't anyone step in to stop them from bullying Lark?! Not the teacher, not Kasim until the end (which eye roll) Eli was the only one who was half trying to see the good in them until that went left because they were thirsty for twitter likes. They knew that Lark didn’t literally mean all people(including racists and transphobes) are good, they were just exploring a thought about humanity, how from those peoples perspectives they are the good guys, they deserved to be questioned for clarity but called out and bullied was ALOT. Why didn’t the teacher listen to that interview that Patch gave Lark and think hmm this tone is aggressive maybe I shouldn’t publish this forced personal confession to the school newsletter…
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This is a lovely YA about a Black, nonbinary, neurodivergent lead learning how to navigate friendship, desire, romance, and storytelling all while existing in 2021 through a global pandemic and also the internet. It felt a bit choppy at times and I found myself wanting more focus on the central romance, but that's just me. 

This feels like a very current, political book, so I recommend picking it up if you're interested in thinking about what it means to be a marginalized teen in today's wacky world.

Thanks to NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids for this ARC.

CW: Covid-19, food insecurity
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I really enjoyed reading Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution. While the content of the book was much more character-driven than I expected, each character was so well-developed and the representation was so excellent that I didn't mind at all. I don't think I've ever read a book where so many identities were represented at once (there were Black, queer, nonbinary, neurodivergent, and polyamorous characters, most of whom identified with multiple of these), and I really, really loved that. Lark was easy to root for as a main character, and I was entertained by how the story felt so self-aware. The writing style did take a couple chapters to get used to, but it made perfect sense and felt like I as the reader was right in Lark's mind the whole time. I also really liked Kasim and several of the other side characters. Additionally, I think this is one of the few instances where I thought a story used pop culture references well -- I am the kind of person who randomly inserts song lyrics and Tiktok audios into my internal monologue, and it was fun to see Lark doing the same. Overall, I think this is a very necessary piece of YA fiction to have on bookshelves and in libraries, and I hope it can act as a model for multifaceted representation in future novels. If you like young adult fiction, please please take the time to read and enjoy this book!
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This book takes a long hard look at cancel culture and makes the reader really think about the difference between holding someone accountable and punishing someone for their mistakes.  As an adult reader, although the initial mistake that Lark makes seems blown way out of proportion by many of the characters in the book, for teenagers like the characters in the book, I can see it being a big deal. Callender really makes Lark's struggles feel real, even if I couldn't relate, I could definitely empathize.
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This book was an incredibly authentic narration of a non binary and neurodivergent main character. Lark's struggles were painful yet relatable, leaving me emotionally spent after every sitting. But the fact that I was so affected indicates that this book is incredibly potent and realistic. I loved the imperfections of the characters, the tension, and the raw honesty of being a teenager.
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As someone who teaches high school age students, I read a lot of YA lit. I firmly believe that some YA is written as well, and if not better, then “adult” fiction and I think adults can learn a lot about the way teenagers think and feel by reading these books. I have loved everything that this author has written, it is always a new and different writing style, and such amazing characters and the representation in their novels never feels forced or performative. This book was different for me because much of the book is dialogue between characters, deep dialogue that often goes on for pages about issues that teens, marginalized and neurodivergent people encounter. I thought that as someone who doesn’t fit in any of those categories, it was really an important read because it allowed me to see the world from their perspective, if even just for a short time, and that feels critical as a way to grow and learn as an individual. However if you are somebody who is looking for a action filled novel, this is probably going to feel frustrating to you, because the content in the plot of this book is driven by these conversations between characters. This is a book that deals with so many issues and has left me with so many things to think about, I took so many pictures of specific passages I knew I was going to come back to and think about in the days and weeks to come. I know that there will be certain of my students, and my colleagues, who will really enjoy this book and I look forward to putting in my classroom library.
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This was beautiful. In true Karen Calendar fashion I sobbed and swooned and just fell involve with our characters. Brilliant.
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This book tackles what feels like all of the social issues at once, it can be a little overwhelming at times. Racism, bullying, anti-trans and anti-queer (especially within the community itself), social media, depression, anxiety, how we deal with trauma...and more are all touched on at one point in the story. With all of the issues the writing was still so intriguing and vivid. I personally did not care for the Birdie character and though that they could have been removed and nothing would have been lost from the story.
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This is a really great story and beautifully written, however it’s just not for the older crowd. I’m okay with that because I refuse to take awaken from the greatness of this book because of the disconnect with the older generation. 

I really look forward to see how this book wins after it’s release.
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There are so many ideas in this book, and I loved the exploration of online culture, public shaming, and the personas we create for a few likes. It was also fun to read a love story with a Black enby main character and their diverse cast of friends. Finally, there's the aspect that Lark is also a writer querying agents and trying to build a following -- all very relatable in the authorsphere. Great read!
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Thank you ABRAMS Kids, NetGalley, and Kacen Callender for granting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution is a coming-of-age novel that explores themes of unrequited love, the messiness of being a teenager, and growing into yourself during the tail end of a pandemic. The cast of characters is an intersectionally diverse group sharing the experience of growing up, drawing from the perspectives of people of color, LGBTQIA identifying people, and neurodiverse people. Callender does a fantastic job exploring different perspectives on social issues such as racism, criminalization of drugs, and complex emotions in a way that would be easy for a young audience to digest. 

Callender's style of representation lets characters from marginalized identities simply exist without being held to extreme highs and extreme lows, which is an incredibly refreshing way to read marginalized characters. However, Sabel, the autistic character, was not written this way. Lark has a moment when they perceive Sabel as not human before correcting themselves to agree that Sabel is human. Lark seems to have an obsession with perceiving Sabel as powerful in a way that reads as if the one autistic character is being held to higher standards and not existing for the sake of existing. 

I did find the use of the character Birdie to be a bit confusing. I felt as if the character was not clearly introduced. Early on in my reading of the book, I found myself confused by their additions to either dialogue or Lark's internal monologue. As the great debate on pop culture references in books wages on, I am personally not a fan. 

All in all, this story was a nice read that felt authentic to the teenage experience, especially in a mid-to-post pandemic world.
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This is a NetGalley advance readers copy honest review etc

I really enjoyed this book--most of the cast of characters (who were a mix of trans, queer, and non-binary polyamorous queer people of color) as well as the plot about social media stress, cancellation and accountability, how we express pain and empathy.

This was not my favorite Kacen Callender book because it was a bit more internal and less plot-driven than i often like, and also the emotional jump to being partners with people and in love with them in like 30 seconds felt like too much whiplash for my old person brain. But overall i am so excited for it to come out so that i can recommend it all over the place!
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Wow, this book hit me like a ton of bricks. I love Kacen's writing and the character and representation were absolutely fantastic. This should be required reading.
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ARC provided by NetGalley. This title releases September 27, 2022.

This was an honest thought provoking book with characters who were captivating and challenging to read about while learning from their experiences. The conversations had in this book about self-improvement, accountability, and change were explored through the lens of a group of Black queer teenagers taking a writing course. 

This story follows Lark. Lark identifies as nonbinary, queer, and neurodivergent. They are a seventeen year old student taking writing classes. They are working on their manuscript to be a published author, and they have a large twitter following. A twitter thread mistakenly goes viral from Lark’s account that they did not write, and Lark faces backlash from that twitter thread. The story takes off from there.

The characters are the highlight of this book. Callender does it again just like in Felix Ever After with their character work. The characters are so individually their own person with their own traumas, their own identities, and their own unique dialogue. 
More things that stand out about this book:
-All characters are Black and queer; many are nonbinary or trans
-Callender allows the characters to be messy, flawed, vulnerable, and work through their mistakes
-I enjoyed being in the characters' heads. The main character Lark addresses that they are not likable and not easy to root for. I was invested in Lark’s journey of self-improvement and accountability, not in whether or not I liked them or was rooting for them. 
-My favorite scenes were the group scenes in the writing class where the teens talk about complex topics such as “what makes a good story,” “what makes a criticism versus a critique,” and “what does it look like to hold others accountable.” 

Read this book if you want to read about:
-representation of Black, neurodivergent, queer, non-binary, and trans characters
-productive conversations about taking accountability for one's actions, communicating difficult feelings, and navigating complicated friendships and relationships
-being challenged and learning from the main character despite their mistakes
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