Seven Minutes in Candyland

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Dec. 2023. 336p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063264656.
Gr 9 Up–Wasson puts together a clever novel that crafts a unique pathway to teen romance and places Black characters at the forefront of the plot. Kalvin Shmelton is a high school sophomore just doing his best to make some extra money selling candy to his fellow students when his secret crush, Sterling Glistern, stumbles into his life. In comes the awkward situation when Sterling asks Kalvin for advice to fix her relationship with her boyfriend, not knowing just how hard he has crushed on her. In his infinite wisdom, he decides if it gives him a reason to keep seeing her, he’ll offer some advice pulling what he’s learned from his professional therapist parents. This kicks off a wild ride where Kalvin finds himself offering rewarding and helpful advice to the student body while avoiding an arch rival wrecking his life and trying to find a way for his dream girl to realize he’s right for her. Readers will enjoy how fleshed out all the characters are, including Kalvin’s friends Dino and Rod, and the comical exchanges that occur throughout. Wasson does a terrific job centering the feature characters’ Blackness and their experience at their mostly white school, making this an excellent selection of diverse representation in YA.
VERDICT A must-add to any YA collection.

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