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Speaking of Summer

A Novel

List Price: $26.00

ON SALE: July 30, 2019 | Hardcover | 6.0 x 9.0, 288 pages | ISBN 9781640091917
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The new novel from the author of Upstate, one of five books selected by the National Book Foundation for the inaugural Literature for Justice Program: a literary thriller about one woman’s desperate search for her missing twin sister, a multi-layered mystery set against the neighborhoods of Harlem.

On a cold December evening, Autumn Spencer’s twin sister Summer walks to the roof of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen again—the door to the roof is locked, and no footsteps are found. Faced with authorities indifferent to another missing woman, Autumn must pursue answers on her own, all while grieving her mother’s recent death.

With her friends and neighbors, Autumn pretends to hold up through the crisis. She falls into an affair with Summer’s boyfriend to cope with the disappearance of a woman they both loved. But the loss becomes too great, the mystery too inexplicable, and Autumn starts to unravel, all the while becoming obsessed with murdered women and the men who kill them.

In Speaking of Summer, critically acclaimed author Kalisha Buckhanon has created a postmodern, fast-paced story of urban peril and victim invisibility, and the fight to discover truth at any cost.

About Kalisha Buckhanon


KALISHA BUCKHANON is the author of the novels SolemnConception, and Upstate. Her honors include a Literary Fiction Audie Award, American Library Association ALEX Award, Friends of American Writers Award, Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, Pushcart Prize and Hurston-Wright Awards nominations, and special Young Author award from novelist Terry McMillan. She also appears on ID Channel, BET, and TV One as a true crime expert in cases involving women.


Praise for Solemn

“The novel is a success for what it does well: giving voice to the desires, fears and lyrical language of ordinary Southern black people.” —The Washington Post

“Kalisha Buckhanon has no problem taking readers into the lives of those we often pass by. Take her searing new effort, Solemn.” —Essence Magazine

“A searing story…fueled by emotion.” —Bustle

“In this lyrical, haunting coming-of-age story, Solemn struggles to find identity and a way forward in the face of poverty and disenfranchisement.” —The University of Chicago Magazine

Solemn is a topical and timely exploration of the way one vulnerable African-American girl living in a trailer park in Mississippi navigates the world around her.” —Citizen-Times

Solemn is a beautifully written, poetic novel.” —Pride Magazine UK

“In Solemn, American Library Association Award-winning author Kalisha Buckhanon crafts a story of a wise-beyond-her-years Mississippi girl’s search for self and truth.” —Hello Beautiful

Solemn is written in lyrically beautiful, poetic language . . . the story starts off with a traumatic event that successfully weaves its tendrils throughout the rest of the book.” — RT Reviews

“No light beach read, Solemn is a topical and timely exploration of the way one vulnerable African-American girl living in a trailer park in Mississippi navigates the world around her. There’s a thread of mystery running through the narrative, but this story, which has drawn comparisons to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, is as much about a young girl’s inner life and way forward through her increasingly precarious future.” —Asheville Citizen-Times

“Reading this story, I found it difficult (although ridiculously unfair) not to think of Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, not only because Solemn is told in a similar, fragmented style but also because both center on young black girls wounded by the actions of those closest to them. Morrison has said that part of what pushed her to write The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, was the yawning absence of black girls in our nation’s literature . . . the novel is a success for what it does well: giving voice to the desires, fears and lyrical language of ordinary Southern black people.” —The Denver Post

Solemn is a thought-provoking and powerful novel about a girl who sees what she shouldn’t and is forced all too soon to learn about betrayal, loss and the precariousness of love. Kalisha Buckhanon is a writer of great imagination and boundless empathy. The writing style is poetic and the use of Mississippi dialogue, both black and white, is masterful. Solemn is a haunting story that keeps pages turning until the end.” —Jonathan Odell, author of The Healing and Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League

“An emotional and expressive novel about family, obligation and community. This twisting, expressive coming-of-age story not only offers readers a young girl’s experience of seeking her place in the world, but also illustrates the struggle of life in the rural South.” —Bookpage

“This standout novel is anchored by its vulnerable and brave heroine.” —Publishers Weekly

“Buckhanon crafts a hypnotic tale…cast against the hardships of everyday life in Singer’s Trailer Park, a young girl’s troubled thoughts make for a heartbreaking story of broken promises.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This work earns a place alongside James Hannaham’s Delicious Foods as top-notch literary fiction sending a message about African American struggles in the 21st century.” —Library Journal

“The story’s compassionate tone and rich characters will recommend it to fans of family fiction and Buckhanon’s earlier work.” —Booklist

Praise for Conception

“A blistering reality check.” —Ebony

“Readers who brace for the adventure are richly rewarded.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“The work of a gifted young novelist.” —Washington Post Book World

“Chronicles the voice of a soul restless, and desperately calling for a new day.” —Bayo Ojikutu, Great American Book Award-winning author of 47th Street Black

“Buckhanon is again at her best.” —Mosaic Literary Magazine

“An emotional journey. A read that highlights African-American women’s issues.” —OK!

“Buckhanon’s second novel firmly establishes her as a timeless voice for a new generation. An authenticity of language and action permeates the novel . . . Teens who like Toni Morrison’s work, Buckhanon’s Upstate, and other realistic novels will enjoy this one.” —School Library Journal

“An awe-inspiring novel.” ––Urban Reviews

“Kalisha Buckhanon has proven to be a distinctive author in her own right, able to capture and share the voice of today’s youth in solid, and enchanting, literary fashion.” —Fresh Fiction

“At its best, the novel balances a bitter stocktaking with a sorrowful lyricism.” —Publishers Weekly

“Recommend this moving novel to readers who enjoyed Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Sapphire’s PUSH.” —Library Journal

“A poignant, heart-wrenching novel.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Heartfelt and affecting.” —Booklist

Praise for Upstate

1 of 5 books selected by the National Book Foundation for the inaugural Literature for Justice Program

“A realistic love story set against a backdrop as gritty as it is memorable.” —People

“Captures the tenacity and faithfulness of young love.” —Entertainment Weekly

“A sensitive portrayal of young lovers that moves beyond gritty urban fiction.” —Essence

“A poetry uniquely its own.” —Elle

“The street smart language crackles.” —Marie Claire

“In one of the most nuanced and intimate reflections of all the ways different intersecting identities can be affected by reproductive injustice, Upstate tells the story of two high-school sweethearts, Antonio and Natasha, living in Harlem.” —B*tch Media

Upstate starts out strong and never lets go.” —Chicago Tribune

“Wild and beautiful…told using the epistolary form with brilliant skill not seen since The Color Purple.” —Sapphire, author of Push and The Kid

“Heartbreaking and true. I’d read it again just for the power of the language.” —Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

“Intimate, wrenching.” —Achy Obejas, author of Ruins and The Tower of the Antilles

“A literary gem.” —E. Lynn Harris, author of What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

“Creative, raw and honest.” —Darnella Ford, author of Rising

“Real and raw in its humor and tragedy.” —Zelda Lockhart, Hurston-Wright Award winner and author of Fifth Born

“Fluent, candid, and colloquial.” —Publishers Weekly

Upstate is a coming-of-age tale filled with tragedy, despair and hope.” —Toronto Sun

“Ripe with unforgettable characters and two entrancing voices.” —Audio Publishers Association

“In prose that brilliantly captures the way real kids in Harlem speak, Kalisha Buckhanon reveals not only her characters’ Romeo and Juliet-like ardor, but also their intelligence and ambition.” —Bookpage

“A powerful novel that has capabilities to cross generations.” —Reviewers Bookwatch

“Poignant, compelling and luminous.” —APOO Book Reviews

Upstate breaks hearts and offers hope.” —Uptown

“A story that is well worth the telling.” —Black Issues Book Review

“A rare audiobook find whose voices linger in the mind long after the final chapter.” —AudioFile Magazine

“By structuring her story in the epistolary form, [Buckhanon] gives it an intimacy and urgency that the best tales always have.” —London Independent on Sunday

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