During the 2020 pandemic, six best-selling African American young adult novelists put their time to good use by combining their enormous talents for this collection of stories about young Black teens in love. Set in one of America's most romantic cities (IMHO)—New York City—these tales of Black love celebrate family as much as they showcase the many ways teenage love can claim a heart.
The stories in Blackout—by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon—are set during a present-day New York City blackout. This means no electricity, no operating subways, trains of any kind, traffic lights, elevators, air conditioning—you name it, if it needs electrical juice, forget about it.
And since the protagonists in each of these stories are traveling to (or maybe not directly to) Twig's block party in Brooklyn, they are all on the move with the threat of darkness closing in.
That darkness is what connects and elevates these stories. Under cover of night, these teens in love have a chance to face their true desires, fears, and significant others with honesty—easier to talk in dim light than bright sunshine. The blackout also conjures expectations of isolation, hiding in small dark spaces—characters who can't see, can't do, can't move. But in Blackout, it's summer in New York City, so when the electricity fails, there are still a few hours of daylight remaining. Just enough time for these kids to fix what's wrong in their lives before darkness falls.
You see, young love can't sit still when the lights threaten to go out—both metaphorically and literally—but thankfully, these teens also have the benefit of young legs.