Cover Image: Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution

Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution

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Member Reviews

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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’m not sure I have much to say because the longer I read through this book the more I realized it wasn’t for me. It is a fantastic book, but for someone else. Lark is ND (or at least they think they are, it’s kinda unclear) and their monologues ramble for sometimes several pages between two points of dialogue. As an autistic person, I can agree that this is realistic, however as I am also sorting through my own 10 pages of inner monologue, sorting through Lark’s at the same time just made me very exhausted. 

Overall, I feel like this is a book that people need to read, as the portrayal of teenagers and their complex emotions that us adults don’t quite understand is very realistic. These kids were messy and imperfect and I couldn’t quite understand why Lark lying on social media was a huge deal to them, but I believe that is the point. Everyone should read this because I believe everyone can take something from it.
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I have never read a book with so many trans and nonbinary characters. Has this convinced you yet?

Lark is an aspiring writer working on their first novel, when a twitter thread professing unrequited love is posted to their account that they did not write, and it goes viral. Pretending to take authorship credit of this thread, how will they affect those around them?

Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution is really so much more than that though. Lark is Black, nonbinary, and neurodivergent. We see so many intersections of their identities and we see them find understanding with the other Black, trans/nonbinary, and/or neurodivergent characters. We also see Lark make many mistakes, struggle to realize that they messed up, and grow and learn how to take accountability for their actions. We see this process through almost every major side character as well. It brings a very raw and real atmosphere to Callender's writing which I love.

There are so many amazing things this book does, which I'll summarize here:
• Discussions about race, racism, and the trauma lived by Black people;
• The high rate of misdiagnosis of Black neurodivergent people;
• Representation of neurodivergent people who do not conform to the ND stereotypes;
• Many important conversations about accountability, cancel culture, intent vs impact, gaslighting, and toxicity; and
• Usage of they/them pronouns for people who Lark does not already know pronouns for.

These are all done so very well, and are very simplified in order to avoid spoilers. In short, it's a book I believe everyone should read. Whether you can relate to any of Lark's identities or not, you will learn so much more than you could've imagined by picking it up.

It's also one that you should be in a good mindset to read. It gets tough, it gets real, and it does not hold back. Which makes it AMAZING. It's also low-key set during the pandemic, so if this is something you're not ready for in a book, I would recommend coming back to it. I say low-key because it's not the main focus, but there are mentions of masking, vaccines, and fear of the virus.

The only critiques I have are minor, and while they did somewhat pull me out of the story, I greatly enjoyed the book anyway. First is the way Lark talks about themself possibly being autistic. In every case where them or the other autistic character being autistic is brought up, it's written as "have autism" instead of "am autistic" when the autistic community says they prefer "am autistic." It happened enough times that it noticeably stuck out to me. Second is how a couple characters are mentioned as sometimes using multiple sets of pronouns, but are only referred to by they/them when multiple pronoun users say it's best to alternate pronouns unless the person tells you otherwise. The only sort of explanation we get is the character bios which say something along the lines of "they/them but sometimes [insert second or third set of pronouns]" which, after watching readers ask why Sunil in Loveless was only referred to by they/them after saying their pronouns are they/he, it left me thinking a better explanation could be used in Lark & Kasim as to why multiple sets of pronouns are introduced but not used.

Rep: Black, nonbinary, trans, bi/pan, polyamory, autistic, ADHD, anxiety, depression

CW: racism, gaslighting, manipulation, transphobia, toxic relationship, pandemic, panic attack, bullying, depression, suicidal thoughts

Rating system:
5 - absolutely love, little-to-no dislikes that did not impact my reading experience

4 - great book, minor dislikes that did have an impact on my reading experience

3 - good/decent book but for some reason did not hook me or there were some problematic things that just were not addressed or greatly impacted my reading experience

2 - is either a book I did not click with and did not enjoy, problematic aspects are not addressed and severely impacted my reading experience, or I DNF'd but think it has potential for others

1 - is very problematic, I would not recommend the book to anyone
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Kacen Callender DOES NOT MISS! I love everything they write because they write with such passion, generosity, and grace. Lark and Kasim quickly become endeared to me and their journey was beautiful to follow.
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"That feeling when you read the last line of a book that you love? I can't think of a lonelier feeling in the world." 

Wow. There is so much to say about this book, but I can only begin by saying that I really felt at multiple points just so, so privileged to be reading it. The representation alone and authenticity of the characters is enough to make me want to suggest this read to everyone I know. 

With that, I’m going to get right into it…

Some thoughts: 
-Lark was a really likable character, and I ended up seeing SO much of myself in them. I loved their internal monologues so much, and as a neurodivergent person this was the first time I’ve ever felt like that aspect of my identity was accurately portrayed (in that it felt authentic to my personal experience and was relatable) in any form of media, EVER. (!!!)

-I think queer people reading this book will have a hard time not feeling represented by at least one (if not more) of the characters. AND THAT IS AMAZING!

-The MC is black, neurodivergent, enby, & poly! There were SO MANY identities represented, even a trans person not physically/medically transitioning. Different types of poly relationships were portrayed. So much intersectionality, and none of it felt forced or out of place. It felt like it was always supposed to be this way.

-The way the pandemic was talked about/handled felt very natural and relatable. 

Some more thoughts:
-At times the book felt very sluggish and it did not feel like it moved at an even pace until about halfway through - and then I couldn’t put it down!

-Birdie was confusing in the beginning because there was no real introduction to them as a character and took a few chapters for me to realize what that whole deal was. There are a lot of really weird Birdie moments, and one really hilarious one towards the end of the book (that caused me to laugh out loud in a break room full of people at work.)

-The bullying/cyberbullying was a bit triggering for me and tough to read at times but I appreciated that no one was bullied for their identity. This book tackled a lot of topics such as transphobia and racism, but there were no examples of this in the book thankfully.

-The book kind of (maybe unintentionally) portrayed woke twitter culture a little too realistically at times. I know it already had a number of topics to tackle, but I almost wonder if they could have expanded upon the topic of online activism a little more. 

Overall, I would rate this a 5 out of 5 stars personally and I can't wait to share this one with my friends/followers this fall! Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was given to me by netgalley. My review is 100% honest and my own opinion.

LGBTQIA+ romance and self growth. Bipoc representative. Friends to lovers

I loved this book. Lark is a nonbinary character who is a budding new and up coming author. It follows their journey through summer writing classes. They also show how hard it can be to trudge through the world that is social media, friendship, new love, and finding oneself and their morals. I really loved the LGBTQIA+ representation throughout the book making the characters and the situation they go through really relatable and enjoyable.

Fun for lovers, mixed feelings. Social justice are just a few topics that are used in this book. I couldn't stop reading the book and actually read it in one sitting. You'll be checking for more work from this author

100% recommend and will be recommending to other readers throughout my social media.
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Thank you Netgalley for an e-ARC!

3.5 rounded up
This book is definitely a must read for teens. It talked about a lot of important topics which a lot of teenagers and other people go through. I would’ve rated it higher but I just thought it was kind of slow on some parts.
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3.5 out of 5 stars. Thank you, NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids publishing for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution follows Lark & Kasim, two Black queer teenagers, as they navigate relationships, societal expectations, and individual growth. All in all, I liked the overall messages of the book such as loving our true selves, taking accountability, and encouraging growth. Even though I didn’t give this book a 4 or 5 star rating, I actually still think this is a book everyone should pick up. 

Lark is a neurodivergent, nonbinary writer, aspiring to get their novel published - though they spend more time growing their Twitter following in the beginning than actually writing their book. Kasim, Lark’s ex-best friend, who is also transgender, accidentally makes a mistake that causes these two to navigate the aftermath. 

During this, the book touched on a lot of difficult topics, such as racism, transphobia, anti-queer rhetoric, intercommunity discrimination, and differences in how to handle bigotry. These are such important topics and this was one of the first fiction books I've read that actually addressed some of these topics for more than one or two sentences. As a nonbinary, queer, neurodivergent person, it was great to see my identities portrayed, respected, and even defended. There were parts of my identity that I've spent hours defending online and off, which were so openly accepted, that it took my breath away more than once. I wish I had more books like this when I was younger.

However, there was a lot I struggled with in this book. Probably my biggest dislike of this book was Birdie. They did not need to be involved in this story at all and their constant presence and inserted narrative often were more jarring than anything. I think at times Birdie was meant to bring comedic relief, but it didn't really translate well. I truly believe all of Birdie's narrative could be easily removed without losing anything.

Another part that I struggled with was the writing style itself. Lark's internal thoughts and monologues were honestly a little exhausting and hard to follow. I do understand that part of this book is that Lark is neurodivergent and that this is their thought pattern. However, I am also neurodivergent. My ADHD makes it exhausting to be in my own head let alone attempt to be in someone else's head where their interests and knowledge are not my own, meaning I have much less of a chance of knowing what was going on and not getting distracted. I don't want to ruin the integrity and consistency of Lark's voice, but I do wish there was a way to break it up more for readers. 

Speaking of consistency, personally, since Lark is obsessively trying to grow their account, I found it very unbelievable that they didn't understand the damage their words could do or how quickly the backlash could take hold. I'm not expecting them to be perfect, but for this to be a turning point and a plot piece for them to not understand this, just didn't make sense to me. I totally could see them making the verbal mistake in class as they did, but for someone who has been hyperfocused on social media, how to grow their account, and creating the perfect tweet, I find it difficult that they wouldn't even know what was wrong or being perceived as wrong..and at least how to mimic damage control it (not saying they should have mimicked it, but I just don't believe they didn't know). 

Finally, I don't think this book fully addressed the issues it set out to. It opened the door to have some great conversations, but in the end, I felt like there was something lacking. I didn’t feel like readers were encouraged to be introspective about their own beliefs and behaviors to the extent that I as a reader, and probably the author, were hoping for. A lot of the progression of emotions didn’t feel fully believable to me as a reader either. I felt like we walked into the story with the author wanting it to go a certain way, and instead of it being based on a natural progression or believability, I had to suspend my belief to get to the same conclusions. Which I can do in a fantasy genre, but since this book closely followed real life, it was just a little harder to get into. 

All of that being said and sounding super critical, I still loved this book and the premise of it. There were so many parts that DID resonate deeply with me and I definitely think it’s worth picking up.
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Gah. I could not WAIT for this book. The diversity. The depth. The obvious care. What a beauteous story that many people will be able to relate to.
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"Usually the things we say we hate about other people are actually the things we hate about ourselves, and we forget that we’re all worthy of unconditional love.”

Kacen Callender explores what it means to find acceptance and love in his latest novel. Lark is a budding writer who is trying to gain access to the publishing community by posting on social media. Kasim is Lark's former best friend. When Kasim accidentally posts their feelings for an unrequited love interest on Lark's Twitter account, the two ex-best friends are forced to navigate what comes next. 

This book is a layered and nuanced piece of literature that focuses on a message of acceptance and willingness to be truthful and introspective. Callender's characters have clear and distinct voices that blend well and force the reader to reflect on their own experiences of navigating love, friendship, and community. Even though Lark and Kasim are both on their own paths in this story, Calender is able to seamlessly tie in their experiences to lend voice to both the queer and BIPOC communities. This was a truly beautiful story with a fantastic message.
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