Review by Booklist Review
Jay doesn't stand out in the way his brother, Jacob, does. In fact, he's used to being overlooked. So, when Leroy, a boy entrenched in the world of the Black Diamonds, becomes interested in Jay, it spurs Jay into a spiral of self-discovery. Although Leroy and Jay form a connection, they're wrenched apart after a shooting targeting Leroy's older brother, the head of the Black Diamonds, leaves Leroy and Jay injured. Even with Leroy's temporary absence, Jay continues to blossom outside the prescribed identity he's created for himself. In this debut, Miller offers a vivid narrative, shining light onto the complexities of queer Black boyhood. Through alternating points of-view, we are given access to both Jay's and Leroy's journey--two unique voices that are arguably the heart of the tale. Miller expertly weaves together themes of survival, love, betrayal, and forgiveness in a way that gives the story an emotional vitality. This book's metaphorical layers celebrate the beauty and hardship of growing into adulthood.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Booksmart 17-year-old Jay Dupresh has one goal: get a full-ride scholarship to Northwestern to honor his older brother, who gave up his college dreams to help support their financially struggling family. On top of his collegiate desires, however, Jay also struggles with the need to be accepted and liked. After a charged encounter with 18-year-old Leroy, the younger brother of the Black Diamonds gang's leader, who intervenes when homophobic bullies target Jay, the two develop an electric friendship that soon blossoms into tentative courtship. Meanwhile, Leroy is wrestling with his own challenges: a run-in with a biased teacher sees Leroy on the verge of expulsion, so he recruits Jay's help in applying for a GED program. But when an unexpected attack leaves both boys injured, it becomes evident that there are greater threats to their fledgling relationship than a mutual fear of rejection. Miller's debut is laudable for its intimate portrayal of a Black community combatting systemic violence by creating their own institutions of support via the Black Diamonds, whose initially intimidating outward reputation begets a collaborative organization devoted to protection. Moreover, Miller sketches a panorama of queer Black characters who, even under threat, not only survive but thrive. Ages 13--up. (Nov.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up--Miller's ambitious debut novel about queer Black boys in Savannah, GA, defies genre categorization. Part teenage love triangle, part conspiracy thriller, part identity narrative, and part gang violence retribution story, it races chaotically to its conclusion and ultimately leaves readers unfulfilled and vaguely confused. The novel alternates between two first-person narrators--Jay and Leroy--as they recount their burgeoning love story amid the backdrop of a community gang war orchestrated by unknown forces. Despite the presence of gang violence, the Savannah described herein is almost completely alien to reality: a utopia where Black queer boys and girls face almost no homophobia from their teenage peers or members of the community, despite openly pursuing each other. It seems too pervasive to not be deliberate, as if the author is attempting to create a parallel universe where these bigotries don't exist. However, the author's decision to gloss over the struggles of Southern queer people with homophobia is puzzling when it is revealed through plot events that bigotry is anything but absent from this fictional Savannah. VERDICT Full of beautiful prose and characters who laugh in the face of toxic masculinity, Miller's debut has a lot of promise--especially in terms of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ representation--but uneven pacing and overly complicated plotlines keep it from its full potential.--Amy Shaw
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
The dangers of love letters, honest feelings, and trying to do right by your community are on full, gay display in this duology opener. Bookish high school junior and diehard romantic Joseph "Jay" Dupresh is used to feeling invisible, but a number of boys around the K-Town neighborhood of Savannah are showing interest lately, including sweet but rough-around-the-edges Leroy. While Jay focuses on writing love letters on commission as his growing side hustle (and some just for himself), Leroy's family affiliation with the Black Diamonds puts both boys at risk, forcing them to hit pause right when things start to heat up. Despite their reputation and even Jay's assumptions, the BDs are primarily a grassroots cooperative that happens to be made up of gangsters looking to protect and take ownership of their community. While Jay narrates his chapters with vulnerability and a delicate touch, Leroy provides contrast in both language and imagery from the peripheries of gang life. Together, they paint a rich, dynamic image of Black queer boyhood in a vividly depicted Southern community. The teens' will-they-won't-they romance is accompanied by the presence of a healthy number of other handsome queer boys and the life-threatening intrigue of a community violently turned against itself before discovering the real enemy. These storylines make for a compelling debut that impressively balances the sweet and the suspenseful. Queer Black boy joy at its juiciest. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.