Cover Image: Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution

Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution

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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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Kacen Callender's writing in this novel is revolutionary in the same way Lark is - quiet, individual, and powerful. I have mixed feelings about this book - I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars - but while I personally prefer the style of Felix Ever After, I think there's a lot here for old and new fans to enjoy. 

-The rep is incredible. I've come to accept so many things about even more recent, "progressive" YA novels, like, there can only ever be one nonbinary character, if a character is trans they have to be at some stage of physically transitioning, characters can't be trans AND black AND neurodivergent, etc. Callender blows all of that out of the water. Multiple trans characters with a variety of presentations! Their transness isn't a source of tragedy! Intersectionality!! Discussions of different types of polyamory!!!
-Speaking of neurodivergency... The random song lyrics and commentary from Birdie (who we quickly find out is not a real person but a character in the book Lark is writing) was jarring at first. There's no explanation or lead in. But I adjusted pretty fast and reading this felt, a lot of times, like reading through my own thought process. 
-It doesn't shy away from difficult topics. It goes IN DEPTH with some really difficult shit and while it provides nuanced views from multiple perspectives, Lark does pick a stance and stick to it, even as the narrative points out that maybe there isn't only one "right" answer.
-The Twitter responses, OUCH. The second hand anxiety is real, just like those comments - they looked like they were picked straight off an actual thread and I quickly remembered why I do not have a Twitter.

-A large part read more like a series of anecdotes or writing class discussions than a plot-driven novel. Probably because:
-The book is entirely character-driven. Based on the book description, I thought there would be more external plot going on, but this is a very introspective book. Which is totally fine! Just not my cup of tea - I prefer more of a balance. I still like the title - someone else pointed out that Lark and Kasim's revolution of self-love and expression might not be the kind of revolution we expect, but it is radical all the same. It think the book description is misleading though, it doesn't really fit the book itself.
-I think I kept expecting certain elements of the plot, like (keeping it vague) Kasim's dad, the protest, etc., to have more impact, but it kind of felt like the Plot moments were just sprinkled throughout to introduce larger topics for the characters to have a discussion about. 

TL;DR: I think this book is incredibly important for teens (and adults), and sparks some extremely necessary conversations. The pacing wasn't my cup of tea: if you're looking for action/something story-driven, look elsewhere. BUT if you want to feel like you've stayed up until 2 a.m. with a good friend having a deep talk, read on. 

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Nonbinary neurodivergent, polyamorous aspiring writer, Lark is in for a summer of mistakes, learning and growing in Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution. Over the summer they attend a writing class, try to get their first novel published and reach 50K followers on Twitter. When an accident happens and they go viral for something they did not do Lark has to either live a lie or risk everything and tell the truth. 

The main message of this novel is wholesome, We all deserve to be loved. I wish I had been able to read this book as I was growing up and trying to figure myself out. Any young adult readers right now need to hear this, Don’t change yourself to make others happy.  

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. 

Overall, this was a great story with a lot of representation with characters you fall in love with in the end, it just might take you a minute to get there.
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I honestly just adore this book and am now a forever fan of Kacen Callender’s. I loved Felix Ever After, but this is so good in a different way. It’s about a neurodivergent, non-binary writer and their friends. It’s about Lark learning to love themself. It’s about what it means to be authentic and honest and when and how people call each other out and in and hold them accountable. It’s also about love. These teenagers say so many wise and deep things. I just love Lark’s journey. I wouldn’t say it’s a plot heavy book, but it’s a deep and beautiful book about teenagers finding themselves and loving themselves and learning how to be and communicate things. Could not love this more.
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Thank you, NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids publishing for an ARC of this book. This review contains minor spoilers.

Lark is a neurodivergent, nonbinary aspiring author. They are attending a writing class over the summer and writing a sci-fi/fantasy book about a nonbinary character from the future. They are slightly obsessed with their Twitter presence and have a goal of receiving 50k followers because then everything will be amazing. Kasim is their ex-best friend also in the writing class. One night, Kasim accidentally posts under Lark's Twitter that he is in love with someone but they don't love him back. Lark takes credit for the posts because it's getting them more followers and the conflicts begin from there. A majority of the story is spent on the relationships the characters build with each other and how mistakes can shape our lives. 

This book addresses many social issues including racism, bullying, anti-trans and anti-queer (especially within the community itself), social media, depression, anxiety, how we deal with trauma...and some I'm sure I've missed. One of my critiques would be there is almost too much going on and not enough time spent on really addressing all of these issues. 

One aspect of the book I loved was how the group discussions in the writing class and the rejection letters Lark receives from publishing agents address some of the thoughts and critiques I had about the book. I was just thinking that "man, none of these characters are really likable and make some pretty stupid decisions" when a discussion about likable characters happens in the writing class. Later I realized, "there are a lot of they/thems in this book" then Lark receives a rejection letter critizing their use of too many nonbinary characters. I loved this almost break of the fourth wall. There actually was a strange break in the fourth wall and I wish it had happened more. Early in the book, Lark is approached by a stranger in the park who asks if they want some drugs. They decline and he tells them "the people reading this book wouldn't like you anymore if you did." It's a great scene that I thought was in Lark's head, but then their friends comment that they shoudln't talk to strangers. I really wanted this theme of Lark losing what was real and what was a story to be a bigger deal. 

- Representation: tons of neurodivergent, nonbinary, queer, trans, and POC characters
- Gender and sexuality are not issues the characters are personally struggling with. It's great to have a book where the MCs are sure about their identity.
- Triad Relationalship rep! 
- Sable is ❤
- Great final message

- Very character driven and it took me a while to warm up to the characters. The revolution Lark and Kasim start isn't really action packed. (Which I think is the point...)
- Could have done more to address more social issues brought up in the book.
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Thank you so much, Amulet Books, for allowing me to read Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution early.

Although I know Kacen Callender wrote countless books for kids, teens, AND adults, I only read one book by them, but what a book! Felix Ever After was such a beautiful, heartbreaking, and heartwarming story. I have to admit that I hesitated a little to start reading Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution because I was afraid that I would be disappointed. But my nervousness was not necessary. Even though this story is different from Felix Ever After, the writing is the same. All those sentences were so vivid that I couldn’t stop reading. Hats off for Kacen Callender. They did it again!
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This book was absolutely fantastic. I've already added it to our list for order this year and will recommend it to students.
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