Bitter (Paperback)

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Bitter By Akwaeke Emezi Cover Image
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(Young Adult)


From National Book Award finalist Akwaeke Emezi comes a companion novel to PET that explores both the importance and cost of social revolution--and how youth lead the way.

Bitter is an aspiring artist who has been invited to cultivate her talents at a special school in the town of Lucille. Surrounded by other creative teens, she can focus on her painting--though she hides a secret from everyone around her. Meanwhile, the streets of Lucille are filled with social unrest. This is Lucille before the Revolution. A place of darkness and injustice. A place where a few ruling elites control the fates of the many.

The young people of Lucille know they deserve better--they aren't willing to settle for this world that the adults say is "just the way things are." They are protesting, leading a much-needed push for social change. But Bitter isn't sure where she belongs--in the art studio or in the streets. And if she does find a way to help the Revolution while being true to who she is, she must also ask: what are the costs?

Acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi looks at the power of youth, protest, and art in this timely and provocative novel, a companion to National Book Award Finalist Pet.

Praise for PET:

"The word hype was invented to describe books like this." --Refinery29
"[A] beautiful, genre-expanding debut. . . . Pet is a nesting doll of creative possibilities." --The New York Times
"Like [Madeleine] L'Engle, Akwaeke Emezi asks questions of good and evil and agency, all wrapped up in the terrifying and glorious spectacle of fantastical theology." --NPR

About the Author

Akwaeke Emezi made their young adult debut with Pet, which was a National Book Award Finalist, a Walter Award Honor Book, a Stonewall Honor Book and received numerous other accolades. An honoree on the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" list, Akwaeke is the author of two acclaimed novels for adults, Freshwater and The Death of Vivek Oji.

Learn more about Akwaeke at or on Twitter at @azemezi.

Praise For…

★ "A compact, urgent, and divine novel." Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ "Emezi once again deftly conjures an ethereal world in which hope is a practice, teen voice and choice are uplifted, and art is validated and lauded as a form of resistance." —SLJ, starred review
★ "[A] timely... story with vivacious queer characters of color who have the agency to define the future for themselves and their city." —Publishers Weekly, starred review 

"Accomplished in its use of uneasily dreamy language." —The Horn Book

"Mesmerizing from start to finish." —Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593309063
ISBN-10: 0593309065
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 18th, 2023
Pages: 272
Language: English