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All booksYoung adultThe Stars and the Blackness Between Them
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
Young adult

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Junauda Petrus, on your first book!

by Junauda Petrus

Quick take

A soul-nurturing love story about forging friendships, building romance, forgiving family, and finding yourself.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad


Why I love it

Lupita Aquino
Co-founder, LIT on H St Book Club

I get so emotional, baby… every time I think about this book! Why YES, it is absolutely necessary to use Whitney Houston lyrics to describe how The Stars and the Blackness Between Them made this queer music-loving ‘90s kid feel.

Audre, a 16 year old raised in Trinidad, is in love with the pastor's daughter. But just as they begin to explore their new love, they are discovered by Audre's deeply religious mother, who banishes Audre to Minneapolis to live with her father. Upon her arrival, Audre is confronted with a vastly different life—one with an unfamiliar parent and a culture and place she's never known. Luckily her father introduces her to Mabel, who helps her navigate her new life in America, and before long, the two fall in love. But this beautiful queer Black-girls-in-love story takes a heart-plunging turn into the realities of life when Mabel receives devasting news about her health.

With vivid characters and a gripping story, this book was a cosmic, emotional, and musical journey. I won't be forgetting this story or MABRE (Mabel/Audre) any time soon. In fact, you can find my singing "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" while re-reading this book and shedding both happy and sad tears.

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Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels—about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

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Check out a preview of The Stars and the Blackness Between Them.

Member thoughts

All (391)
All (391)
Love (230)
Like (126)
Dislike (35)
417 ratings
  • 55% Love
  • 30% Like
  • 8% Dislike
  • ST Johnsbury , VT

    I’m only 130 pages in at the moment, but this book has some of the most delicious language I’ve ever had the pleasure of laying my eyes on. You’ll feel the pulse of Trinidad course through your veins.

  • Westport, NY

    I didn’t know how much I needed this book. Petrus makes it easy to slip into another world. The layers beneath the romance are so powerful that it’s hard to put down. A great YA novel and so relevant.

  • Helena, MT

    What a gorgeous, empowering debut! Poetic, profound, & deeply spiritual, this is the queer black love story the world needed! This heartbreaking, magical story is destined to be a classic. I loved it!

  • Lutz, FL

    WOW. This book deserves so much more attention than it has received. Gorgeous, lyrical, heartbreaking, and SO meaningful. I felt this book so deeply and would recommend it to teens and adults alike.

  • Los Angeles, CA

    Perfect book for the young adult in your life! Fun for the not so young too! Finding yourself, loving yourself (and family) and even accepting things no matter how we feel is growth! Read this book!

  • tustin, CA

    I see this book as almost a love letter. It shines light on what every day looks like for two queer Black females who find each other and hold tight to how love made them feel seen, heard, and alive.

  • Oviedo, FL

    It took me a while to get into this book but once i did it was amazing. I expected a teenage romance, but got deep feelings about race, religion, illness, and incarceration. Really moving & beautiful

  • Stevens Point, WI

    The perfect book for just feeling Good. I adored the writing style, I felt everything for these characters, and I related to so much despite how different my life is from Mabel and Audre’s lives.

  • Holladay, UT

    Beautiful, powerful, and moving. I loved this celebration of Black queerness and joy. This book had me with teary eyes throughout. Petrus really brought these characters to life in rich detail.

  • Saratoga Springs, NY

    Such beautiful writing! Incredibly emotional and I loved the relationship. The ending was a bit odd in my opinion, but after all the good that happened before it I gave it 5 stars anyway.


    Realistic magic isnt my thing but i really loved this one. very cultural. I think this ending will be very polarizing for people but those last like two/three chapters were amazing.

  • Troutdale, OR

    Beautiful book which explores Black queerness, ancestry, spirituality, celestial mythology, love, and finding control of your life even when controlled by oppression. Amazing story.

  • Kennewick, WA

    A sweet and powerful queer love story. I didn’t expect the plot to go the way it did, but the characters were so full of depth and the narrative structure was fascinating.

  • Tallahassee , FL

    This book made me think on life and just living in the moment. I didn’t focus on the relationship of the characters, but how each brought happiness to each other lives.

  • Syracuse , NY

    Such beautiful prose and a gutwrenching story about love and loss, death and dying. I thought this story intertwined the two main characters’ stories very well.

  • Pittsboro, NC

    Magical, spiritual, profound, healing, musical, delicious, sweet, tender, well-written, rich, lush, and lovely. A love letter to being a young, queer, black woman.

  • Noblesville, IN

    Best book of my 2020 reading year! So different from anything I have ever read. So imaginative. The story carries on in a fashion where I never wanted it to end.

  • Menlo Park, CA

    Charming and engrossing tale of friendship, love, and battling sickness. A great read and makes you feel the love. The author has a great writint style

  • shenandoah, PA

    This book is so beautifully written. It is a story about two young girls finding love in each other and in themselves. I couldn't recommend it enough.

  • Selma, OR

    Beautiful is the best word to describe this book. Beautiful writing, beautiful imagery, beautiful characters, beautiful romance. Just: Beautiful.

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