The Stars and the Blackness Between them is a lyrical, spellbinding contemporary debut saturated in black girl magic, love and the power of reading as a healing tool.
The story is told through two main perspectives: Mabel and Audre.Mabel and Audre are two 16 year old teenage girls from different worlds and upbringings. Audre is from Trinidad and has a tempestuous with her ultra religious mother. After being caught with her secret girlfriend ( who also happened to be the pastor’s daughter), Audre’s mom sends her to the US to live with her father. She leaves behind the island and trades it in for the Midwest — Minnesota to be exact. There she reaquaints herself with Mabel, the teenage daughter of her father’s friends. They had met briefly before but Audre relies on Mabel to help her navigate her new life.
Mabel is terminally diagnosed with a rare blood disease and her world flips on its head. She relies on Whitney Houston’s music, her favorite band BLK LVRS, a memoir called The Stars and the Blackness Between Them, and the support of Audre herself. The memoir is written by a man called Afua Mahmoud, who was unjustly imprisoned and sentenced to death at the age of 19. Mabel feels a kinship with him and his words help her navigate her new normal. She sees his writing as a prayer and reaches out to him by sending him a letter. When he replies back, she is ecstatic.
Audre lifts Mabel’s spirits after every chemo treatment by healing her spirit. The two grow incredibly close and become anchors for one another. Inevitably, they fall in love. It’s tragic and bittersweet because Mabel’s time is running out, but they both know that their bond goes deeper than anything on Earth.
The passage of time is told through poetic chapter breaks going through the astrological sign cycle. At the same time, Mabel is also discovering astrology and star charts so the two go hand in hand with what she is feeling.
One of the things this book does so great, is placing empowerment front and center. Mabel and Audre experience many high and lows in this book but really find strength from their ancestors and other powerful figures. It reminds the reader of the importance of representation and why it matters. For Mabel especially — the support of seeing people like her in media (books, music) gives her the strength to power through her illness and discover new aspects to her identity.
Vivid and distinct, The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is an important own voices narrative that will enchant readers through its magnetic and lush storytelling.