The Blackwoods

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Oct. 2023. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063091597.
Gr 8 Up–The Blackwoods are Hollywood royalty. Award-winning Black actress Blossom Blackwood broke barriers and blazed a path to success, and her recent death has left a hole in the collective heart of the Blackwood family. Her great-granddaughters, Hollis and Ardith, are particularly affected. Ardith, a successful actress herself, has worked to ensure her image is flawless, especially after her mother died of an overdose. But an unfortunate encounter with a blogger who disparages her mom threatens everything Ardith has worked to achieve. Hollis is content to be a normal high school student out of the spotlight. When a memento of a personal moment is leaked to the press, Hollis is thrust into the public eye for all the wrong reasons. At the same time, Blossom’s death brings with it the revelation of a long-held secret, one that will forever alter the lives of the Blackwoods. Chapters alternate between Ardith and Hollis in the present day, as well as Blossom, whose story begins in 1942, and covers several decades. Each young woman has a distinctive voice and point of view, and Blossom’s history is seamlessly interwoven with contemporary events. Family relationships are where this story shines, but serious topics such as sexism, mental health issues, and socioeconomic disparities are included in a way that feels natural for the story.
VERDICT Colbert’s latest novel deserves a spot in teen and high school collections; hand to readers who enjoy family sagas and the ups and downs of fame.

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