Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution
by Kacen Callender
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Pub Date 27 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2022
Faber and Faber Ltd, Faber & Faber
From the bestselling and award-winning author of Felix Ever After comes a heart-melting and joyful romance.
Maybe it's too late to tell them how I really feel. That I've had these feelings for months, for years . . .
Lark Winters wants to be a writer, and for now that means posting anything and everything on their social media accounts - just to build their platform. When former best friend Kasim accidentally posts a thread on Lark's Twitter declaring his love for a secret, unrequited crush, Lark's tweets are suddenly the talk of the school. To protect Kasim, Lark decides to take the fall, pretending they accidentally posted the thread in reference to another classmate. It seems like a great idea: Lark finally gets the courage to ask out their crush, Kasim keeps his privacy and Lark's social media stats explode. But living a lie takes a toll - as does the judgement of thousands of Internet strangers. Lark tries their best to be perfect at all costs, but nothing seems good enough for the anonymous hordes - or for Kasim, who is growing closer to Lark, just like it used to be between them . . .
In the end, Lark must embrace their right to their messy emotions and learn how to be in love.
Praise for Felix Ever After:
"Groundbreaking." - Buzzfeed
"Beautiful." - Justin A. Reynolds
"Full of love." - Publishers Weekly
"This book is a gift." - Becky Albertalli
Praise for Felix Ever After:
"Groundbreaking." - Buzzfeed
"Beautiful." - Justin A. Reynolds
"Full of love." - Publishers Weekly
"This book is a gift." - Becky Albertalli
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 35 members
I've just finished this so bare with me if this review is a little incoherent- I am recovering! This book was phenomenal and such an easy five stars. From the minute I opened this book, I knew that it was time to prepare for my heart to be ripped out of my chest and then put lovingly back. Yes, it was that good!
This book follows an interesting and overlooked premise- a young writer as a leading protagonist, followed by a cohort of other writers as they battle identity, acceptance and learning to take accountability. This book was philosophical and funny but emotional and hard hitting when it needed to be. It also looks in on itself and clashes intentionally with publishers and other authors. Why can't we be indulgent in the characters we create? Why can't we write for ourselves rather than for what others want?
The representation in this as well was amazing, with a ND, POC, queer protagonist and so many other queer POC side characters. Non-binary representation is always so special to me and seeing so many characters identify this way was amazing. Lark's experience with autism (or the possibility of it at least) was covered really well, coming from an autistic person, things other neurotypicals often overlook make such an impact when you're ND. Especially Lark's conversation about their rejection sensitivity which is something I still struggle with myself. Getting to see yourself in characters is really one of the highest joys of reading.
I also adored the side characters, alongside Kasim! The romance didn't centre as strongly as I thought it would and I found myself preferring that. Kasim had just as much of a character arc as Lark- every character in this book did. They all felt so dimensional and human (presumably), that you found yourself rooting for the positive change you could see from the beginning. Everyone has the capacity to change and learn and grow and I think this novel was so important in its expression of that. Especially with the highlight on cancel culture and social medias impact on ourselves and others. I think a lot of people get caught up in that.
The character, Birdie, created a level of dissonance for me but where some disliked this, I think it added to Lark's character. Whenever they were struggling, they looked inside their head at a character they created and began to rationalise. I think this showed what a reflection Birdie was of Lark themself. And the ending (you'll know what I mean), granted such a beautiful conclusion to Lark's journey with their novel and with Birdie. I think this novel shows perfectly the power of growing with what you create and changing as you do so.
Overall, I loved this, so so much and I can't wait until it actually comes out! A novel that perfectly encapsulates what it means to be human, to make mistakes and learn to grow from them. Phenomenal as always.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this eARC of "Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution" by Kacen Callender.
I previously have read Callender's novel "Felix Ever After" and I adored their writing style. This book is no different. The story felt so real to me and it dealt with topics such as homophobia, cancel culture, Racism and polyamory.
I loved this story so so much.
I loved Felix Ever After and so I wax so excited to be approved for this and in my opinion this is just as good, if not better than Felix. It was both heart-wrenching and heart-warming at times and was a real exploration into self love and what it means to love yourself. I smiled all the way through it I loved it. Please write more imeediately
I adored Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, and when I saw this upcoming release I was beyond excited and then I got accepted and my excitement continued throughout the entire book, I devoured it in one sitting!
“Please love me. Fuck that shit. I don’t need other people to love me when I already love me damn self”
I will not lie initially it took me a little while to get into the book, but after the first couple of chapters I was invested, and Lark & Kas had stolen my heart. The characters are all so well written and the themes and representation in this book are next level, the book does fantastic to highlight and tackle the fact that those who are white and CIS really do not understand their privilege, and the book makes a point of highlighting just how problematic people can be when they are not willing to take accountability and learn and change their behaviours when called out on their problematic comments/behaviours, and with the current way that particular “famous” people are behaving I feel that reading this book really can help identify that people are not trying to “cancel” others without first giving them the opportunity to accept their faults, educate themselves, adjust their behaviours accordingly and apologise.
This book felt completely realistic, especially the way that Lark was being targeted and attacked via the comments on their tweets, it honestly felt like those could have been copied and pasted from Twitter today. All of the characters were completely lovely and three dimensional, and it was very unique to read a story from the perspective of a main character who was a writer themselves, it felt very fourth wall to me, but also offered a lot of insight into the way that young writers are critiqued and criticized (I love the fact that Kacen included the difference between the two!) I also love the inclusion of the self-love throughout the book, especially with Kasim trying to encourage Lark to not care what others think and to develop their own self-esteem and love themselves. I will admit there were a couple of predictable moments in the book but that did not take away the impact this book has on its readers.
The representation is amazing, there are a number of characters that can be easily relatable, and its fantastic to see the increase in diverse reads, and even more so with own voices reads, Lark is a black, queer, non-binary and neurodivergent character who does not hide any of their flaws, you are able to see through their behaviours just how insecure they are but also just how much neurotypicals cannot fathom that their behaviours are a symptom of their ND. I also liked the introduction of a polyamorous relationship, that was something completely new to me, but I like the fact that this relationship and other relationship developments throughout the book did not take away from the other topics being covered.
I really like the little pop references mentioned throughout the book too (I noticed the Pokémon reference!) plus the commons writers class was a fantastic backdrop for all of the important discussions that the characters were having (although this could have been highlighted as more of a safe space for all of the characters, especially as there was an adult presence who could help navigate the conversation) the little snippets for each classmates novels (and the other characters critiques) was a great little touch, and really helped to add to the side characters developments. There was also Kacen’s advice at the end of the book, which was a lovely little addition to really help any new writers, or even those that may in a writer’s block!
All in all, it was an eye opening read for me that has left me questioning certain facts about myself, as some mentions in this book have made me question my own neurodiversity (I feel I relate a lot to the anxious avoidant and hypersensitivity to rejection) I would highly recommend this read to everyone, Kacen has done it again and I cannot wait for their next release!
TWs: Homophobia, Accountability, Bullying, Cyber Bullying, “Cancel Culture”, Racism, Transphobia, Polyamory, Profanity and Suicidal Thoughts
Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution is a book with a lot of heart and I know that it's going to be beloved by the people who need it most. It deals with *a lot*: racism, transphobia, police brutality, the pandemic and the detriments of spending too much time on social media at a young age. I did enjoy the book as a whole. The characters were occasionally annoying (but they are all between the ages of 16 and 17 so what else is there to expect?) but this didn't stop me from rooting for them!
The one thing I didn't really vibe with was Birdie, the protagonist of the novel that Lark (our main character) is writing. It's a nice idea, the thought of the characters that we create always being with us, but their presence wasn't really necessary and often took away the impact of the scene.
Still, Kacen Callender will always be on my list of authors I automatically read!
This was an absolutely phenomenal piece of work. To read a book centring a non-binary, neurodivergent teenager is wonderful. They want to be a published writer? Okay, Lark Winters <i>is</i> me.
Of course, there are many experiences that Lark has and I do not, significantly that they are Black. Their intersectionally oppressed identity was explored through the book and helped me to learn.
As always, Kacen Callender’s prose is glorious. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. The characters were real, the neurodivergent and autistic experiences were impeccably represented, and there is a trans boy who does not always bind. Kacen Callender pushed at the boundaries of books deemed palatable with <i>Felix</i>, and they have done it again with <i>Lark & Kasim</i>. Both are incredible.
The focus on polyamourous and non-traditional relationships was something I was not expecting, but it was wonderful to see.
And the message of the book — the contrast of Lark’s and Kas’s beliefs — that people make mistakes and do stupid stuff and should not be shamed for it because shame doesn’t get anyone anywhere, but accountability does… it was amazing.
Thank you so much to NetGalley for the digital advance copy.
"In a world that wants me to hate myself, teaches me to hate myself, expects me to hate myself, learning to love myself instead can be an entire revolution."
I loved this read.
Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution follows a Lark; a Black, neurodivergent, polyamorous, non-binary teen as they and the rest of their writing class discover and begin to understand a cacophony of important life topics such as taking accountability, identity and love.
At the beginning of the book I was apprehensive about the mention of the pandemic, it's not really something I want to think about in my reading time, however, I came to realise that this was a device to put the setting of the story into context. These are teens who have seen the world change around them and become almost entirely online, they are also teens who have witnessed and likely been involved in the BLM movement, a movement very relevant to their own discussions.
This novel introduces several important and underrepresented topics throughout its pages via these said discussions (Racism, transphobia, polyamory, mental health etc) This could have felt forced in another author's hands but instead Callender creates realistic flawed but deeply loveable teens who actually interact like teens: meaning we get to see everything through their collective lense.
However, talking of forced my biggest (maybe only?) issue with this book is Birdie. I like Birdie's inclusion in theory, but in practice, it just simply didn't work for me. I feel a little taken out of the story upon every mention of them, which is an otherwise extremely readable book is a shame. I think the story would be no different without them though their comments did in fairness sometimes make me laugh.
Without wanting to reduce the story in any way, ultimately Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution could be described as a tale about love, but a love different to that in most YA novels. Love for your friends, family, partners, the human race, your work and even your identity.
I greatly look forward to hearing everybody talk about this book when it's officially published, I truly enjoyed this read and will not hesitate to pick up another Kacen Callender book!
Lark is a Black, trans teen who dreams of being a writer. They build their twitter account in the hope of being discovered while dealing with rejections from publishers. The main character in their book acts as a kind of Jimmy Cricket conscience and advices Lark in their everyday life. Larks' ex-best friend Karim borrows their laptop and accidentally sends a tweet from Larks' account.
This causes a social media event as people relate to the message, people at their community school react to this is in interesting ways, Lark enjoys the boost in followers so doesn’t point out the mistake. Eli wants some of the attention, so begins a relationship with Lark when they are pressured to give more details. Karims' friends bully Lark and troll them online which gets worse when the deceit is uncovered. Things get really unpleasant for Lark and Karim. Others stop speaking to Lark and it damages friendships. Lark has to find a way to mitigate the damage and confess the deceit, while navigating some tricky relationship issues.
This book does a great job of discussing cancel culture and the problems with social media and how people treat each other. There's a big message about the importance of holding people accountable for their actions and their mistakes, without shaming them. Because shame doesn't change anything. Lark grows so much throughout this book, after all the lies they've told, they eventually start being honest, and that change is incredible. Everyone makes mistakes, but it's so important to own up to them and make amends. I think one of the biggest things I've taken from this book is how important it is to be yourself, and to be honest with the people you love and care about. It's difficult to have honest conversations, and to do the work to improve yourself, but it's absolutely vital that we do hard things. That's how we grow.
really good read. Good writing that made for easy reading. I really liked the characters. Good story, great execution
Kacen Callender did not disappoint with this novel. The writing excellently reflected the thought processes of a neurodivergent person (I am neurodivergent myself and found it to be very relatable) and was engaging from start to finish. I love how Callender doesn't hold back from creating characters that are messy and real, that make mistakes and do the wrong thing, but that grow, change and are still lovable. The representation in this book was also fantastic, there was a Black, non-binary, queer, neurodivergent main character which was fantastic to see. Overall a great YA contemporary and one of my favourite reads so far this year.
One of my favourite books (along with most of bookstagram it seems) last year was Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, so I was very excited to get a digital copy of their new ARC Lark and Kasim Start a Revolution.
This book was a bit of a rollercoaster for me. It was one of the few books I’ve read that I've felt on the edge of my seat to see whether I love or hate it, unsure of what will happen with the story and the character development.
...small spoiler? I loved it!
The story is based around Black, queer teenagers Lark and Kasim and a small group of others during a summer writing class. We see Lark, from their point of view, as they become more and more tangled in a series of lies, social media, bullying and complicated feelings.
My favourite parts of this book involved the characters, either in the classroom setting or one-on-one conversations, discussing different and sometimes conflicting views and working out together if there is a right way.
This book feels very relevant and needed and certainly opened my eyes to topics that I hadn't previously considered.
I think this would be a great book for a book club or discussion group. I can't wait to hear others’ opinions.
Also includes neurodiverse and polyamorous representation. I don't feel that I’m in a position to comment on how Lark’s neurodiversity is portrayed in this book so I look forward to hearing what others think.
Thank you to NetGalley, Kacen Callender and the publisher for providing me with an E-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
I absolutely loved this book and the representation within it. It makes me so happy knowing that more YA books like this exist and more young people get to see themselves represented. The problem with social media and words being twisted and misunderstood is a large topic throughout this, but most importantly I think having characters like Lark and Kasim will be absolutely life-changing to people who feel similar to them. I thoroughly enjoyed this and can't wait to read more Kacen Callender books in the future.