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Kings of B'more

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Two Black, queer best friends face their last day together with an epic journey through Baltimore in this magnetic YA debut by celebrated cultural critic and bestselling Here For It author R. Eric Thomas. With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he's on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and l Two Black, queer best friends face their last day together with an epic journey through Baltimore in this magnetic YA debut by celebrated cultural critic and bestselling Here For It author R. Eric Thomas. With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he's on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that--it's like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend Linus will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: he's moving out of state at the end of the week. To keep from completely losing it--and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his Dad--Harrison plans a send-off � la Ferris Bueller's Day Off that's worthy of his favorite person. If they won't be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things--big and small--they've been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.


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Two Black, queer best friends face their last day together with an epic journey through Baltimore in this magnetic YA debut by celebrated cultural critic and bestselling Here For It author R. Eric Thomas. With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he's on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and l Two Black, queer best friends face their last day together with an epic journey through Baltimore in this magnetic YA debut by celebrated cultural critic and bestselling Here For It author R. Eric Thomas. With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he's on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that--it's like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend Linus will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: he's moving out of state at the end of the week. To keep from completely losing it--and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his Dad--Harrison plans a send-off � la Ferris Bueller's Day Off that's worthy of his favorite person. If they won't be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things--big and small--they've been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.

30 review for Kings of B'more

  1. 4 out of 5

    Monte Price

    More thoughts found in this reading vlog. This is a book that I wanted to enjoy. I went in expecting to get some #BlackBoyJoy and instead I got black boys getting profiled by museum security, these friends who were allegedly trying to spend their last day together being separated and then a third act where the parents have to talk to their children about their fears of them getting shot dead in a street somewhere.... And that's not to mention the copious amounts of fucking Hamilton references [ a More thoughts found in this reading vlog. This is a book that I wanted to enjoy. I went in expecting to get some #BlackBoyJoy and instead I got black boys getting profiled by museum security, these friends who were allegedly trying to spend their last day together being separated and then a third act where the parents have to talk to their children about their fears of them getting shot dead in a street somewhere.... And that's not to mention the copious amounts of fucking Hamilton references [ and Wicked and insert popular Broadway staple of the last two decades.... ]. Can we take a moment to discuss how these two black people in a majority black city were confused there were black people at Pride???? And like... I get it. I really do... but sir... There were so many times I wanted to chuck this book across the room. I set it down for two weeks because I couldn't bring myself to read the last hundred or so pages. Because in addition to the lackluster friend storyline there was a whole other subplot that kept interrupting the flow of the main story. This book just didn't click. The author was successful before they started writing books, so they don't need my endorsement, but this was just a miss on every level.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Thank you to Penguin Teen and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I'm so glad this comes out in May. It's the perfect book to read right before or during Pride. Kings of B'more is about two gay best friends. Harrison and Linus have been best friends since they first met. Harrison feels like he's on the precipice of everything: college, standarized testing, the rest of adult life. He's so glad he has his best friend Linus to count on. But when Linus tel Thank you to Penguin Teen and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I'm so glad this comes out in May. It's the perfect book to read right before or during Pride. Kings of B'more is about two gay best friends. Harrison and Linus have been best friends since they first met. Harrison feels like he's on the precipice of everything: college, standarized testing, the rest of adult life. He's so glad he has his best friend Linus to count on. But when Linus tells him, he's moving away, the two boys are sent into a tail spin. Harrison decides he has to make a grand gesture to cement his and Linus's friendship. With the help of his friend Aparna, he plans a grand adventure a la Ferris Bueller's Day Off before Linus leaves. What starts off as the perfectly planned day, quickly devolves into spontaneous side quests and dodging parents/authority figures. This book was so much fun. It's absolutely full of queer Black joy and I loved every second of it. The ending had such a powerful message about how strong friendship is and how it should be cherished. It made me so emotional at the end! I love both Harrison and Linus. They were so easy to relate to and I loved seeing their various relationships to family and their friendship circle. Going to the Pride Fest and other various activities with these two was so much fun. I loved getting to explore Baltimore with them. Then we had Aparna's intermissions which were so quirky and fun! I loved how she sets the scene like a theatre production. Overall, cannot recommend this one enough. It's full of queer joy and celebrates friendship in a way that I don't often see in YA. Rep: Black gay male MC, Black gay male (autistic-coded) MC, white bisexual female character, side MLM couple (interracial white and Black partners), queer female side characters, nonbinary side character, Indian-American female side characters both named Aparna, several Black side characters. CWs: Abandonment, alcohol consumption. Moderate: suicidal thoughts (from a side character), racism.

  3. 5 out of 5

    booksandzoe

    4.5. this felt so magical. highly recommend to people who like YA but are getting a bit tired of how formulaic contemporaries can be

  4. 4 out of 5

    Trans-cending-literature

    I read the first half and skimmed the rest since I lost interest. I found this book boring and paced weird, there wasn't really any conflict, action, or emotion so I wasn’t invested in what was happening. And the dialogue felt stilted and the two MCs voices were indistinguishable to me. I’m still not sure if they were switching POVs or not. I expected this to be a modern retelling of Ferris bueller but with marginilized MCs and was intrigued, but that wasn’t quite what this is. The MC watches th I read the first half and skimmed the rest since I lost interest. I found this book boring and paced weird, there wasn't really any conflict, action, or emotion so I wasn’t invested in what was happening. And the dialogue felt stilted and the two MCs voices were indistinguishable to me. I’m still not sure if they were switching POVs or not. I expected this to be a modern retelling of Ferris bueller but with marginilized MCs and was intrigued, but that wasn’t quite what this is. The MC watches the movie and decides to try and recreate it (badly), but theres honestly very few similarities.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richelle Robinson

    Thank you Bookish First for my review copy. I was all excited to read this Black joy story and it didn’t work out exactly in my favor as I hoped it would. I wanted a carefree story, but both of the main characters are dealing with some heavy issues. Then there were several incidents of racism and can we not in these Black joy books? I deal with that a lot in my everyday life. I just want to read a book about Black people at our best! No heavy themes, topics. Just carefree living life Black people Thank you Bookish First for my review copy. I was all excited to read this Black joy story and it didn’t work out exactly in my favor as I hoped it would. I wanted a carefree story, but both of the main characters are dealing with some heavy issues. Then there were several incidents of racism and can we not in these Black joy books? I deal with that a lot in my everyday life. I just want to read a book about Black people at our best! No heavy themes, topics. Just carefree living life Black people. Not asking for too much. Back to the book. There were some fun moments along the way. I do like the way the main characters were able to talk to their parents and have open dialogue at the end. I loved that this book focused on the importance of friendship and how platonic love doesn’t necessarily lead to romance which is a good thing. The story also had good diverse side characters as well which helped the story progress. CW: Abandonment, mental health issues, incidents of racism. 3.5

  6. 4 out of 5

    Renata

    love love LOVED this! I always love R. Eric Thomas's humor and seeing it shine through in all of these characters in slightly different tones was so funny. And I loved the big friendship feelings here and the way it engages so much with the Issues Facing Today's Teens (pandemic, technology, overprotective parents who do have a point about the police though, etc). But mostly just SO funny and charming. lots of literal LOLs. chef's kiss. love love LOVED this! I always love R. Eric Thomas's humor and seeing it shine through in all of these characters in slightly different tones was so funny. And I loved the big friendship feelings here and the way it engages so much with the Issues Facing Today's Teens (pandemic, technology, overprotective parents who do have a point about the police though, etc). But mostly just SO funny and charming. lots of literal LOLs. chef's kiss.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amivi

    Thank you Penguin Teen for sending me an arc/finished copy for an honest review. TW/CW: Racism, Alcohol consumption, abandonment ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75 Kings of B’More is a fun read that's filled with black joy and how friendships are as important as romantic love. Romantic love seems to be the focus for most books, and it’s nice to read a story that shows how strong and powerful friendships can be. Harrison is a great friend that did everything in his power to give us Linus, how best friend the best last day Thank you Penguin Teen for sending me an arc/finished copy for an honest review. TW/CW: Racism, Alcohol consumption, abandonment ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75 Kings of B’More is a fun read that's filled with black joy and how friendships are as important as romantic love. Romantic love seems to be the focus for most books, and it’s nice to read a story that shows how strong and powerful friendships can be. Harrison is a great friend that did everything in his power to give us Linus, how best friend the best last day to prove that their friendship will last forever. My one con for this book is that I felt by the end that it was dragging a little bit and that it needed to be 50 or so pages less. And one of my favorite lines from this book is “Your heart will break in this life, but when it does break, I hope every crack makes more space inside for love.” Overall, if you’re looking for a cute black queer story, then this is the perfect book to pick up.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ash Baker

    4.5 rounded up! Rather than giving another plot summary, I just wanna break down what I did love about this book: - laugh out loud funny - brought me to tears near the end - focus on a best-friend relationship, which is not represented very often (especially between two queer Black boys who are FRIENDS and not romantic interests) - normalization of diverse identities! Experiences specifically related to being Black, being queer, etc. were never tokenized or preachy. Ex. There were references to ra 4.5 rounded up! Rather than giving another plot summary, I just wanna break down what I did love about this book: - laugh out loud funny - brought me to tears near the end - focus on a best-friend relationship, which is not represented very often (especially between two queer Black boys who are FRIENDS and not romantic interests) - normalization of diverse identities! Experiences specifically related to being Black, being queer, etc. were never tokenized or preachy. Ex. There were references to racism in a way that felt natural to the lives of the characters (examples include: being afraid of driving partly because of his parent’s lecture on the danger of “Driving While Black” because of the police; being mistaken for another Black person; etc). Teens of different races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and socioeconomic statuses are presented in an organic way. - going off of that... I also SUPER appreciated the inclusion of a character who is referred to with "they/them" AND IT IS NEVER SPECIFICALLY POINTED OUT - IT SIMPLY IS WHAT IT IS! I read the character as nonbinary, but I don't think their identity/label (if they even have one) is mentioned. They're just a super cool character who is never misgendered or Othered. Hell yeah. - the messages of the story: sometimes plans don’t end up being followed, reality doesn’t match your expectations, but that’s okay! You can roll with life, make the best decisions you can given the circumstances, and still *dazzle* - the theme of agency (and lack thereof when you’re still a minor under the authority of your parent/guardian) that feels almost as central to the book as friendship - details of youth that felt very relatable, like being afraid of driving, not understanding “DADDY” merch at Pride, complicated but loving sibling relationships, being afraid that your best friend has a DIFFERENT best friend besides you (and feeling jealous/insecure about it but trying to be cool) Overall it's a very fun, heartwarming, surprisingly soft book. I was honestly surprised by how 'quiet' it often felt. Sure, there's plenty of humour and wit, and scenes of excitement of adventure, but there is also a lot of introspection for both leads. It's a pretty good balance of plot and character-focus, imo, though it did drag in parts - especially in the beginning. Other critiques: - sometimes the switches between the present and the flashbacks were jarring - switching between Linus’ and Harrison’s POV was actually difficult for me to follow at times – perhaps because the voice of the novel doesn’t really change between the two, even though the characters have different ways of speaking when in dialogue. I do feel like Linus could’ve been developed a bit better – Harrison feels like a stronger/more distinct character. NONETHELESS, this is a lovely YA book and I'm so glad it exists! <3 Thank you Eric and PRH for sending me an ARC to read!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    Linus has some bad news. He's moving to South Carolina, so his best friend, Harrison, plans the ultimate farewell for him in the tune of Ferris Buller's Day Off. He's got the whole day planned down to a science, a day that will take them to Pride, joyriding in a convertible, and even ending with a ride on the Ferris wheel. But despite Harrison's neatly crafted plan (with the help of his friend Aparna), nothing goes as expected. This book surprised me. It wasn't chock full of action or suspense a Linus has some bad news. He's moving to South Carolina, so his best friend, Harrison, plans the ultimate farewell for him in the tune of Ferris Buller's Day Off. He's got the whole day planned down to a science, a day that will take them to Pride, joyriding in a convertible, and even ending with a ride on the Ferris wheel. But despite Harrison's neatly crafted plan (with the help of his friend Aparna), nothing goes as expected. This book surprised me. It wasn't chock full of action or suspense at every turn. Nothing unbelievable happened to Harrison and Linus. It's just a story of two best friends rolling with the unexpected punches. It's a real and raw story of two best friends doing everything they can not to say goodbye, and since that's something I just experienced, I felt this in my bones. I loved this book with my whole heart. Harrison and Linus, though different, were two meticulously crafted characters who came to life through Thomas's heartfelt and funny prose. I really enjoyed the interactions between Aparna and Cool Aparna. It's also very rare that a book makes me cry, but the last two chapters had me misty. I cannot recommend this book enough especially if you have a best friend you love with your whole heart. Definitely read this book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    DNF at 10% I’m not clicking with the characters or the writing style so I’m setting this aside for now.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I love love loved the Ferris Buller's day off vibes. Seeing all the locations around Baltimore that are visited. It really is a slice of homemade pie. The friendship is wonderful and both characters are absolutely charming and easy to love. I received an ecopy of this book through Netgalley; however, my opinions are my own. I love love loved the Ferris Buller's day off vibes. Seeing all the locations around Baltimore that are visited. It really is a slice of homemade pie. The friendship is wonderful and both characters are absolutely charming and easy to love. I received an ecopy of this book through Netgalley; however, my opinions are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Thank you to Penguin Teen, Bookish First, and Netgalley for an arc of this book! When Harrison learns his best friend, Linus, is moving away in a few days, he plans an epic "Ferris Day" inspired by Ferris Bueller's Day Off to try and cement their friendship and make sure Linus knows how much he matters. This is such a cute and fun book about the importance of friendship and platonic relationships! I wasn't a huge fan of Harrison's narration, but I really enjoyed Linus' pov and I loved watching th Thank you to Penguin Teen, Bookish First, and Netgalley for an arc of this book! When Harrison learns his best friend, Linus, is moving away in a few days, he plans an epic "Ferris Day" inspired by Ferris Bueller's Day Off to try and cement their friendship and make sure Linus knows how much he matters. This is such a cute and fun book about the importance of friendship and platonic relationships! I wasn't a huge fan of Harrison's narration, but I really enjoyed Linus' pov and I loved watching their friendship and the ways they showed each other that they mattered. This book is super cute and wholesome and I definitely recommend picking it up! Content Warnings Graphic: Abandonment and Alcohol Moderate: Suicidal thoughts and Racism

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vee_Bookish

    Why do I already have a lump in my throat "Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: he's moving out of state at the end of the week. To keep from completely losing it... Harrison plans a send-off a la Ferris Bueller's Day Off that's worthy of his favorite person. If they won't be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pr Why do I already have a lump in my throat "Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: he's moving out of state at the end of the week. To keep from completely losing it... Harrison plans a send-off a la Ferris Bueller's Day Off that's worthy of his favorite person. If they won't be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party..."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Heather Freeman

    Ok, this book might not be 100% focused on Black joy, since the characters are dealing with a lot in their lives, not the least of which is the premise, where our main character's closest friend is about to leave him behind and move away. There are also internal family struggles, which aren't downplayed, though the most disturbing elements of the book certainly deal with anti-Black racism (there are cops and threats from cops) and a homophobia, though maybe to a lesser extent. Basically, don't g Ok, this book might not be 100% focused on Black joy, since the characters are dealing with a lot in their lives, not the least of which is the premise, where our main character's closest friend is about to leave him behind and move away. There are also internal family struggles, which aren't downplayed, though the most disturbing elements of the book certainly deal with anti-Black racism (there are cops and threats from cops) and a homophobia, though maybe to a lesser extent. Basically, don't go into this fully expecting a Black joy work, despite what the cover and synopsis suggest. That's not to say that there aren't joyful moments or chill summer vibes--this book certainly achieves that too, but it doesn't eschew more disturbing encounters that the main pair of queer friends experience as they go through Baltimore throughout one epic day. I did love that both boys were queer, but that it wasn't a traditional romance book at all. The focus on friendship was pretty awesome.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    I really enjoyed this young adult book about the friendship between two Black, gay boys in Baltimore (key word is friendship, not love interest). I loved the nod to Ferris Bueller’s Day off and I especially loved the well written relationship between Harrison and Linus. I did think the transition between some of the memories and the present could have been more clear. I loved the representation in this book and felt like race was dealt with appropriately and naturally. Harrison is gearing up for I really enjoyed this young adult book about the friendship between two Black, gay boys in Baltimore (key word is friendship, not love interest). I loved the nod to Ferris Bueller’s Day off and I especially loved the well written relationship between Harrison and Linus. I did think the transition between some of the memories and the present could have been more clear. I loved the representation in this book and felt like race was dealt with appropriately and naturally. Harrison is gearing up for junior year, but Linus has some big news that will disrupt all of Harrison’s careful planning. Inspired by a recently discovered Ferris Bueller’s Day off (and yes this part made me feel super old) Harrison decides they need one last day where they will uncharacteristically skip work and not be honest with their parents who track their locations by phone app. And the Ferris Day is born.

  16. 4 out of 5

    caitlin e.

    Review copy courtesy of Kokila through Edelweiss This modern take on “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” finds bombastic Harrison and withdrawn Linus spending a Baltimore summer day having adventures that end at Pride. The book will definitely click with queer teens looking for realistic, funny fiction, but I found myself a little disappointed there was not more of a romance.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mindy

    3.5 stars

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katharine

    Thomas’ Here For It was one of my favorite books of 2020, and while his latest is quite different (YA vs. essays) it’s equally as good. Full of fun, laughs, and heartwarming moments, you’ll enjoy this even if you don’t typically like YA. (And the narration is great.) Thank you to Penguin Teen and PRH Audio for providing me with a free review copy. All opinions are my own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me with an e-ARC of Kings of B'more! Who wants to have a Ferris Day with [email protected]!! Also, wow, I Feel ancient that these characters had no idea what Ferris Bueller's Day off was when I watched it so many times throughout high school thanks to substitute teachers who had no other idea what to do with us. Anyway, I loved the idea of Kings of B'more! & there were some scenes/adventures that I was absolutely living for. But after a while, I just found myself over Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me with an e-ARC of Kings of B'more! Who wants to have a Ferris Day with [email protected]!! Also, wow, I Feel ancient that these characters had no idea what Ferris Bueller's Day off was when I watched it so many times throughout high school thanks to substitute teachers who had no other idea what to do with us. Anyway, I loved the idea of Kings of B'more! & there were some scenes/adventures that I was absolutely living for. But after a while, I just found myself over it. Also, I recommend checking out reviews from Black reviewers who discuss how this isn't the Black Boy Joy book they wanted -- because those reviews are much more important than mine.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Absolutely sobbed through the last 50 pages or so. Queer joy! Queer joy and big feelings for the youths!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maija Kittleson Wilker

    It's hard to pinpoint all of the things I loved about this book. I think at the center is the fact that it is about two queer Black boys being friends, and there aren't many books about that (or the power of platonic friendship in general). Harrison and Linus are both complex characters who are trying to figure out who they are and how they can be themselves in a world that mostly wants them to fit into boxes. The characters in this book don't fit into boxes and that another thing I love about i It's hard to pinpoint all of the things I loved about this book. I think at the center is the fact that it is about two queer Black boys being friends, and there aren't many books about that (or the power of platonic friendship in general). Harrison and Linus are both complex characters who are trying to figure out who they are and how they can be themselves in a world that mostly wants them to fit into boxes. The characters in this book don't fit into boxes and that another thing I love about it. They are diverse in their experiences and identities and that's part of what makes this story such a fantastic trip. Aparna, Pops, Corinne, all of their parents and friends are such unique (and vaguely unpredictable people) that you never know where the story is going to go. As someone from DC who has also spent time in Baltimore, I also really appreciated the setting. Baltimore usually has a bad reputation and it was nice to see it portrayed in a multi-faceted way.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trigger Warning Database

    Trigger & Content Warnings Racism Abandonment Alcohol consumption Suicidal ideation

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I was excited about this one. I recommended it to both the Baltimore City and County libraries and was excited when it came in. What a disappointment. A lot of it didn’t make a lot of sense and there was little plot or character development. The book seemed to switch perspectives but it was very hard to tell since their “voices” were identical. One’s only personality trait was that he thought about musicals nonstop. There are some scenes with Linus’ estranged mother that should be good but we ha I was excited about this one. I recommended it to both the Baltimore City and County libraries and was excited when it came in. What a disappointment. A lot of it didn’t make a lot of sense and there was little plot or character development. The book seemed to switch perspectives but it was very hard to tell since their “voices” were identical. One’s only personality trait was that he thought about musicals nonstop. There are some scenes with Linus’ estranged mother that should be good but we have no feeling for his character so there is little pay off or investment. It seems like a throwaway for “depth”. How did a child not know what playing hooky meant? He watches Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and decides it means something about a baseball game. Then he decided to have a Ferris Day for his best friend who had just suddenly announced that he was moving away and didn’t want any fuss. I’m puzzled why it was set in Baltimore. So many details and terminology were wrong or confusing. We have dirt bikes, not “motorbikes” (there are literally documentaries about this). We also call our distinctive houses rowhouses. We don’t live in a “row home”; we live in a rowhouse. A odd number of references to “squat houses” (I guess smaller rowhouses?) and large apartment buildings which was weird because we famously have very few apartment buildings and the few we do have are small compared to what are in most cities. Most apartments are in carved up rowhouses. No kid growing up here thinks you get “hired” or have to apply to be a a squeegee kid. No one would be surprised there were Black people at Pride. It’s Baltimore. Also a little weird to not have Greenmount be the cemetery they hang out in. The book ignores Baltimore geography and logistics so why not have them love the one with the cool gravestones and famous people? The one with better hours? Walking paths? I don’t even think they got a snowball on the way. What kind of Baltimore summer is that? I’m allowing that even though the Druid Hill Park pool has been closed since 2018, it did reopen six days ago. After the book came out but okay. I don’t know how they had time to do half of what they did, taking a train to DC and getting over to the Mall is time consuming (I’d say 3 hrs absolute minimum round trip travel time?) but they did all that, got timed entry at the museum, wandered around and still had time to run all over Baltimore? Then he is back home in time for his parents to be making dinner? And he totally would get the reference on the mug. We know his parents show him old stuff. Why all it called Kings of B’more? You can’t write about a specific place and not get the details correct or have it be believable. You have to assume some local is going to read it. Some much of this info could have been gleaned by talking to a native and current Baltimorean. At the very least run it past one before it goes to print? He did know that Baltimore City and County were two different things and how North Ave got it’s name but that’s a low bar. The fact that he had the two kids work for a Baltimore tour company yet didn’t seem to know much about the city was a choice. Even with all the oddness about Baltimore it still would be a disappointment because no one felt like a real distinct character. The main characters were written in the same “voice” and the side characters really had no personality or purpose. The book was too long and wordy to use the fact that it took place over only a few days as an excuse for a lack of character development and meaningful plot. They kept repeating the same facts and details over and over again—we get it, the teacher liked Celine Dion and Titanic. Everyone saw Hamilton. The ending was so corny I had some second hand embarrassment. I love reading books about friendship and books about my city that don’t include guns and violence but come on. I had such high hopes! I would have been happy with a book that just had some happy goofy kids having fun in my city if any of it felt real or had depth. I felt like the book tried but never pulled it off. I do like his tv work. Maybe YA is not his forte?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dai Guerra

    Thoughts and Themes: I was quite pleased when Penguin teen provided me with a copy of this book so that I could provide a review. While I haven’t seen the movie Ferris Bueller, I was intrigued because this book centered around two Queer, Black males, and their friendship which is something that I rarely see in books. I tend to find Queer books focus so much on the romance that they leave the friendship piece out, or that if there’s another Queer person in the book it’s an automatic relationship s Thoughts and Themes: I was quite pleased when Penguin teen provided me with a copy of this book so that I could provide a review. While I haven’t seen the movie Ferris Bueller, I was intrigued because this book centered around two Queer, Black males, and their friendship which is something that I rarely see in books. I tend to find Queer books focus so much on the romance that they leave the friendship piece out, or that if there’s another Queer person in the book it’s an automatic relationship so I loved that this book didn’t go that route. Throughout the whole time of reading this book, I was waiting for there to be some romantic gesture made and I just didn’t feel that spark between the two guys so I was happy that they didn’t have any romantic feelings toward each other. I do really love that this book talks about how this is different from a typical friendship and the love that they have for each other that is platonic but still so important and valid. I love how this book was a take on Ferris Bueller and how the characters point out how different it is because they aren’t white, straight guys. I thought it was important that this was pointed out because some of the events that take place throughout this story are because they are Black, Gay guys. Characters: In this book, you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with our main character, Harrison. You get to meet his best friend, Linus, his sister Corrine, his parents, and Linus’s dad, as well as some of their friends, Aparna. I really loved the friendship between Harrison and Linus and how we see it develop throughout this book. I love that we get a chance to see how this friendship started and how they both feel about their friendship. I really enjoyed how they both didn’t have to say anything to just understand each other. This whole friendship reminded me of me and my best friend and how space and time don’t change things for us, it’s more than words can describe but this book put that friendship into words. I also really enjoyed the relationship that Harrison has with each of his family members and how we see this throughout the book. I like how his parents explain why they are so protective of him and I like how close his sister is with him. I like that we also get to see her being protective of him throughout the book and how she also understands him. Writing Style: This story is told in the third person through an outside narrator, and you also get some show notes from Aparna that are written in the first person. I really liked getting the chance to see both what Harrison and Linus were up to and what Aparna was getting into to keep their travels a secret. I loved the pieces that were written by Aparna as I felt like she was the actual narrator for this whole story and she was retelling that day. I know that this isn’t the case but it’s nice to think that she just knows all because it fits her character. I also really liked that this was told in the third person because we got to see what each person was thinking or what each of them was doing at different moments in time. While the majority of the book was focused on Harrison, you did get glimpses of Linus and his thoughts.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bee (BacchusVines)

    Why do I absolutely find myself falling for Kings of B'more? Putting spoiler tags because I get very much in my emotions. Side note: Please look for Black reviewers' reviews and especially ones that live in Baltimore. (view spoiler)[There are many highlights to the story of Harrison and Linus. For one, this novel takes place over the majority of one amazing day. I enjoy that the plans Harrison had form with his friend from school for Linus's last day in Baltimore didn't work to a T. Each characte Why do I absolutely find myself falling for Kings of B'more? Putting spoiler tags because I get very much in my emotions. Side note: Please look for Black reviewers' reviews and especially ones that live in Baltimore. (view spoiler)[There are many highlights to the story of Harrison and Linus. For one, this novel takes place over the majority of one amazing day. I enjoy that the plans Harrison had form with his friend from school for Linus's last day in Baltimore didn't work to a T. Each character introduced to the teens has their own personalities, looks, and bring more joy into the story. And there are plenty of deep, thoughtful moments to pair nicely with the hilarity of hijinks. Joy. A word that works so well with R. Eric Thomas's writing. Why the sadness of loosing a friend to a move down the east coast is there, the boys are also bursting with joy for one another and their adventures. Cleary Thomas has written the Black Boy Joy of the summer, especially for teens that can relate extremely to the urban settings of Baltimore and DC. My feelings are a moot for the story, as I am an outsider enjoying the sights and wonders of Harrison's quiet reflections and Linus's rumbling of feelings on moving. From the beginning with the different reactions from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, to the Druid Hill Park public pool, and traversing down and around Baltimore, I kept thinking, R. Eric Thomas has written Baltimore and DC the way other authors wax poetry over New York. I could see the train ride that Harrison and Linus took to DC and back. I could picture the alley behind Harrison's house or the chaotic fun of the Druid Hill pool and the community coming out to eat, chill and cool off. Reading the in-between chapters of Harrison's friend at the Central library, even for a brief moment, felt like home. A positive look on the fun that Baltimore gives, especially at the Pride Parade that they attend. The colors, foods, and community. May its nice to get a novel that isn't about murder or drugs aren't the center of the story. Just two teen boys struggling with the upcoming move and not wanting to be apart. The last few chapters completely had me sobbing. Harrison driving in circles to calm down while Linus fights with his dad about the move. Linus breaking down because he realizes how important Harrison is in his life. How much love the two have for each other, and they don't wanna lose it. Ah. So good. Go and read this book please. (hide spoiler)]

  26. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This YA book is a place of joy. It’s about love in its purest sense - friends, siblings, parents, community. It took me a minute to figure out what B’More is (a.k.a. Smalltimore), so I was thinking of it as “be more,” which actually works. Harrison is on the cusp of “big choices - classes, tests, college, literally the rest of his life” when his best friend, Linus, drops the news that he’s moving to Charleston in a few days. Harrison, who loves a plan, is devastated that he and Linus won’t be do This YA book is a place of joy. It’s about love in its purest sense - friends, siblings, parents, community. It took me a minute to figure out what B’More is (a.k.a. Smalltimore), so I was thinking of it as “be more,” which actually works. Harrison is on the cusp of “big choices - classes, tests, college, literally the rest of his life” when his best friend, Linus, drops the news that he’s moving to Charleston in a few days. Harrison, who loves a plan, is devastated that he and Linus won’t be doing all the things (classes, tests, college, and the rest of their lives) together. So Harrison enlists the help of his high school theater’s stage manager, Aparna - who not only loves a plan but excels at planning - to devise an adventurous final day together so that Linus will never forget Harrison. Basically, Harrison and Linus spend their last day together learning to B e More. Of course everything goes wrong, but does it? R. Eric Thomas’s writing is bright, relevant, observant, smart and fun. He knows his audience and crafted an engaging story that delivers a message without being preachy. My only negative critique of the book is that it’s confusing when the story switches third person perspectives between Harrison and Linus. Their voices are so similar, and it usually took several paragraphs for my brain to catch up. I enjoyed the subplot written in first person by Aparna, as she tries to keep the day on track and has her own adventure. Rich dialogue drives the story forward, interspersed with observant descriptions to round it out. I truly felt like I went on a journey with these boys, as my heart broke for them and then filled with love. Like Harrison’s mother says, “Your heart will break in this life, but when it does break, I hope every crack makes more space inside for love.”

  27. 5 out of 5

    Frank Chillura (OhYouRead)

    Kings of B’more was so full of love, friendship and queer black boy happiness that I couldn’t help smiling the entire time I was reading it. When Linus announces that his family is moving away within the week, it turns Harrison’s life on his head. What will he do without seeing his best friend every day? They’ve known eachother since they were children and he doesn’t want to lose his friendship. So that’s when he decides to plan one last adventure! Harrison plans a Ferris Bueller Day that will m Kings of B’more was so full of love, friendship and queer black boy happiness that I couldn’t help smiling the entire time I was reading it. When Linus announces that his family is moving away within the week, it turns Harrison’s life on his head. What will he do without seeing his best friend every day? They’ve known eachother since they were children and he doesn’t want to lose his friendship. So that’s when he decides to plan one last adventure! Harrison plans a Ferris Bueller Day that will make it where Linus never forgets him. All they have to do is make sure neither of their parents find out. And just be back in time for Baltimore Pride! Because that’s how they need to finish the day… surrounded by other queer people! There is a lot of incredible representation in this book! We have 2 gay black boys as MC’s, a slew of incredible queer and BIPOC side characters and an MC who is neurodivergent. So hopefully everyone finds someone to connect to. I definitely saw myself in Harrison a lot and wanted them all to find their joy! My favorite part of this book was the fact that it wasn’t about finding love or some kind of scheme to stop his family from moving, it was about the magic of friendship, finding that person who means the world to you, whom you can’t live without and need to be a part of your life forever. So this was a true Happily Ever After for me. I’m not left needing to know what happens next or if they stay together. I know in my heart how their future unfolds and I’m so happy for it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Mertz

    I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book and am providing my honest review. Linus and Harrison are the best of friends. A pair of 16-year-old African American boys doing what boys do best while trying to plan for their future in college. Linus drops a bomb on Harrison that he will be moving away, far away, and the move is only a few days away. Harrison doesn’t want to say goodbye to his best friend, but he knows he doesn’t have a choice. He plans a day filled with adventures to show Linus I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book and am providing my honest review. Linus and Harrison are the best of friends. A pair of 16-year-old African American boys doing what boys do best while trying to plan for their future in college. Linus drops a bomb on Harrison that he will be moving away, far away, and the move is only a few days away. Harrison doesn’t want to say goodbye to his best friend, but he knows he doesn’t have a choice. He plans a day filled with adventures to show Linus just how much their friendship means to him. Kings of B’More written by R. Eric Thomas hit home in many ways for me. Published just in time for summer and right before the beginning of Pride Month. The friendships in this story are pure and innocent. While reading the book I was fairly certain there would be a romantic relationship that surfaced between Harrison and Linus. I loved that their relationship remained only a friendship, but a fierce one at that. Being a teenager in today’s society comes with many hardships. Being male, African American, and gay can make that even more difficult. I recommend this book to anyone, young adult or adult, looking for a heartfelt pick-me-up about friendships, having fun, and enjoying your life to the fullest. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this book. I look forward to reading more books written by R. Eric Thomas in the near future. Favorite Quote: “We keep you so close because we don’t want the worst of the world to get you. But in so doing, we may have been keeping some of the best of the world from you, too.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Valerie HappiestWhileReading

    "Your heart will break in this life, but when it does break, I hope every crack makes more space inside for love." - Kings of B'more by R. Eric Thomas I'm excited to review Kings of B'more by R. Eric Thomas on the first day of PRIDE Month. I appreciated Here For It, the author's essay collection and enjoyed his first YA novel that primarily takes place on a single day in June. Harrison and Linus, Black gay 16-year-old best friends, had their future planned. They would work summer jobs at the same "Your heart will break in this life, but when it does break, I hope every crack makes more space inside for love." - Kings of B'more by R. Eric Thomas I'm excited to review Kings of B'more by R. Eric Thomas on the first day of PRIDE Month. I appreciated Here For It, the author's essay collection and enjoyed his first YA novel that primarily takes place on a single day in June. Harrison and Linus, Black gay 16-year-old best friends, had their future planned. They would work summer jobs at the same place, graduate high school in a couple of years, and attend college together. That plan is ruined when Linus tells Harrison he's moving from Baltimore to South Carolina in just a few days. Inspired by the classic 80’s movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Harrision secretly arranges a Ferris Day full of adventures for Linus. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and as events unfold, readers see them deal with a wide range of issues including race, family dynamics, economic resources, friend groups, and body identity. It was a fun surprise to discover that this well-crafted coming-of-age novel features a movie I associate with my college years, and I hope it creates a new generation of Ferris Bueller fans. This will be a 'mirror' book for many teens and a 'window' book for others. I appreciated how the parents were portrayed and wondered if Linus and Harrison's relationship would change as a result of Ferris Day. Thank you to Kokila Books, NetGalley, and BookishFirst for the review copies of this novel.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elyse

    Won Finished Hardcover from BookishFirst.com! It has come to my attention that I am no longer a young adult. By over a decade. So I guess I cannot entirely relate to that of a young adult anymore. This does not stop me from reading young adult novels of all genres. I enjoy them. But while reading Kings of B'more, I found myself getting irritated by Harrison and while reading, it struck me why. I had to go back down the rabbit hole, dig deep for those high school feelings. I found them. Gah. They Won Finished Hardcover from BookishFirst.com! It has come to my attention that I am no longer a young adult. By over a decade. So I guess I cannot entirely relate to that of a young adult anymore. This does not stop me from reading young adult novels of all genres. I enjoy them. But while reading Kings of B'more, I found myself getting irritated by Harrison and while reading, it struck me why. I had to go back down the rabbit hole, dig deep for those high school feelings. I found them. Gah. They sucked. Hormones were high, emotions were high, feelings were FELT. I remembered the gut-wrenching feeling of loss when a friend moved away. I remembered how severe the heartbreak was. It all came back and suddenly, I knew exactly how Harrison and Linus felt about themselves, each other, their lives, the world. So so relatable, I just had to find it within me! In high school, you think you're on top of the world. You're invincible. It's the end all be all. But high school is just a drop in the bucket of life and high schoolers will never understand it until after they graduate. They call it the real world for a reason. Harrison is devastated that his best friend, Linus, is moving far away for their senior year and possibly beyond. This is tragic to him, this was tragic to me when it happened time and again during school. I love how all-in Harrison went for Ferris Day and what blossomed out of it, nothing short of maturity. This is a very sweet, nostalgic, poignant novel.

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