Thank you to Abrams Books/Amulet/Edelweiss for a copy of Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution in exchange for an honest review.
Lark Winters wants to be a writer, and for now, that means posting on their social media accounts — anything to build their platform. When former best friend Kasim accidentally posts a thread on Lark’s Twitter declaring his love for a secret, unrequited crush, Lark’s tweets are suddenly the talk of the school — and beyond. To protect Kasim, Lark decides to take the fall, pretending they accidentally posted the thread in reference to another classmate.
It seems like a great idea: Lark gets closer to their crush, Kasim keeps his privacy and Lark’s social media stats explode. But living a lie takes a toll — as does the judgment of thousands of internet strangers. Lark tries their best to be perfect at all costs, but nothing seems good enough for the anonymous hordes — or for Kasim, who is growing closer to Lark, just like it used to be between them . . .
In the end, Lark must embrace their right to their messy emotions and learn how to be in love. — From the publisher.
It took me a hot minute to get into Kacen Callender‘s Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution because, initially, I didn’t get what they were doing. As it dawned on me, I started to devour the book. But as with most super meta things, my love for Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution is distant and dispassionate. (Btw: teenagers can be as deep and emotionally developed as the ones in this book.)
Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution is very calculated, and I can see everything Callender is doing behind the scenes, which feels very the point. He writes his ideas down like very telegraphed poetry. It’s a brilliant thesis, and though this book is fiction, it reads like nonfiction. Lark’s experiences on social media and as an author feel authentic.
I loved Lark. We share many of the same optimistic ideas about life: love everyone because people are inherently good, which isn’t so common in an increasingly nihilistic world. It’s not often we get to read stories from the perspective of Black, queer, trans and neurodivergent narrators — the more of that, the merrier! By the way, I don’t mean to imply that any of Lark’s identities are why I didn’t emotionally connect with the story. Quite the opposite: Lark is the emotional center; it’s the meta plot devices that kept me at a distance.
There’s so much else to love here. What makes a good story? What if Black were the default? This book is a safe place where transness is so common that misgendering isn’t the go-to way to insult someone (good, because that’s lazy and rude). Plus, it was fascinating to read a book set during the pandemic. Most books I read these days ignore it, so it was great to see an author tackling it.
Should you read it?
If you like “ideas” books, yes! Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution is a stunning read, don’t get me wrong — and I have highlight after highlight in my Kindle to prove it — but I intellectually connected to it more than emotionally. All that means is that I enjoyed this read, but I probably won’t be rereading and rereading it. Personally, I’m more about reads that pull me emotionally than intellectually. But, you do you!
Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution is out on September 27, 2022. Pick up a copy at your local indie bookstore or library. 📚💕💙