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What the fireflies knew : a novel
2022
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Library Journal Review
Harris's debut novel is a beautifully written and moving coming-of-age tale told by 10-year-old Kenyatta Bernice (KB) after her father's death from an overdose. When their mother is sent away for treatment, she and her teenage sister, Nia, are sent from Detroit to live with their estranged grandfather in Lansing, Mich. With their mother gone, the two sisters, once best friends, have become disconnected as they drift through the hot and miserable summer. KB's isolation is palpable. Missing her parents and now stuck with a disagreeable grandfather she barely knows, she and Nia are suddenly plopped down as one of the few Black families in a white neighborhood. As the summer and heat wear on, secrets are revealed and illusions are released. As in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Harris addresses serious topics like racism, sexual assault, and mental health issues through the empathetic POV of a young girl. Zenzi Williams is a kind and gentle reader and ably evokes every emotion with perfect pitch. VERDICT This wonderfully written and beautifully narrated story will be a big favorite for book clubs and audiobook clubs.--Pam Kingsbury
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