An unflinching, honest novel in verse about a teenager's journey into the slam poetry scene and the dangerous new relationship that could threaten all her dreams. From the award-winning poet and author of HOME IS NOT A COUNTRY.
Bad girl. No matter how hard Samira tries, she can’t shake her reputation. She’s never gotten the benefit of the doubt—not from her mother or the aunties who watch her like a hawk.
Samira is determined to have a perfect summer filled with fun parties, exploring DC, and growing as a poet—until a scandalous rumor has her grounded and unable to leave her house. When Samira turns to a poetry forum for solace, she catches the eye of an older, charismatic poet named Horus. For the first time, Samira feels wanted. But soon she’s keeping a bigger secret than ever before—one that that could prove her reputation and jeopardize her place in her community.
In this gripping coming-of-age novel from the critically acclaimed author Safia Elhillo, a young woman searches to find the balance between honoring her family, her artistry, and her authentic self.
About the Author
Safia Elhillo is an award-winning poet and author. Her debut YA novel in verse, Home Is Not a Country, was longlisted for the National Book Award and received a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and an Arab American Book Award. Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, Safia is a Pushcart Prize nominee, co-winner of the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, and listed in Forbes Africa’s 2018 “30 Under 30.” She lives in Los Angeles.
★ "A stunning work that deeply explores poetry, the complexities of identity, and the longing for love."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ "A mesmerizing verse novel and a gripping exploration of the hyper-policing of Black girls’ bodies and sexuality."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "Elhillo has created more than a cautionary tale. Much like the tale of Persephone’s abduction, she has crafted a story that contains misery, but at its very core, harbors hope." —Booklist, starred review
"Elhillo creates a realistic picture of a teenage girl trying to push against unfair perceptions. Readers will appreciate the believable portrayal of a teen who is dealing with complex issues of family, friendship, and romantic love." —The Horn Book
"An achingly gorgeous novel in verse that explodes with emotion and heart."—Kim Johnson, bestselling author of This is My America and Invisible Son.
"Crackles with energy...In a word, gorgeous."—Samira Ahmed, New York Times bestselling author of Internment and Hollow Fires.