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Soul Kiss

This first novel from poet/playwright Shay Youngblood manages to be both funny and heartbreaking, a bittersweet taste of an African-American girl’s coming of age in the ’60s. When Mariah Kin Santos’ loopy mother, Coral, goes AWOL, leaving her in the care of two maiden aunts, the 7-year-old girl cultivates stability through writing. Making friends, falling in lust, even reaching out to her estranged father, an errant painter named Matisse, Mariah has one ambition: ”I want to make words so delicious that people will want to eat them.” With Soul Kiss, Youngblood has done just that: The sensation of reading this shimmering novel is like savoring the taste of summer fruit on the tongue. A

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