“Still and always”: Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi

Release Date: February 15, 2022
Series: Pet 0.5
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Description

After a childhood in foster care, Bitter is thrilled to have been chosen to attend Eucalyptus, a special school where she can focus on her painting surrounded by other creative teens. But outside this haven, the streets are filled with protests against the deep injustices that grip the city of Lucille.

Bitter’s instinct is to stay safe within the walls of Eucalyptus . . . but her friends aren’t willing to settle for a world that’s so far away from what they deserve. Pulled between old friendships, her artistic passion, and a new romance, Bitter isn’t sure where she belongs–in the studio or in the streets. And if she does find a way to help the revolution while being true to who she is, she must also ask: at what cost?

This timely and riveting novel–a companion to the National Book Award finalist Pet–explores the power of youth, protest, and art.

My Thoughts

Like every novel, Bitter begins with a dedication, but this one hits hard. Emezi honors Toyin Salau, a young Nigerian American woman from Florida who was active in Black Lives Matter protests before she was murdered in 2020. She was just 19 years old, a couple years older than Bitter, a couple years older than the teenagers I work with every day. She should’ve had her whole life ahead of her, but that was taken away by a society that uplifts patriarchy and misogynoir. It breaks my heart that she had to spend what little time she had on this planet marching against state sanctioned violence instead of being a carefree young adult. And I’m angry that we’ve been resisting for four centuries and every time it gets a little better we get dragged backward.

Read the rest of this review at Tor.com.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy. Buy it at Bookshop.org (affiliate link).

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