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Chlorine Sky

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Poetry (2021)
A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend.

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don't dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.

192 pages, Hardcover

First published January 12, 2021

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Mahogany L. Browne

31 books394 followers

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5 stars
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990 (28%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 736 reviews
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
920 reviews3,022 followers
January 27, 2022
"When I was younger, I thought I had superpower
Thought if I sat real still and stared at a book
No one would be able to see me
I got so good at it
I forget that I’m the only one playing the game"

I am not crying you are!
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,839 reviews4,674 followers
February 10, 2021
What a powerful YA novel written in verse! I listened to conversation that Melanated Reader had with Jason Reynolds and they talked about how the author has been working with poets for a while getting them published. It's nice to finally see her work out in the world. CW: bullying & I received this book for review. All thoughts are my own.

At it's core, Chlorine Sky is a book that focuses on the loss of a friendship, a break up of a friendship, and the pain that comes with it. While this novel focuses on a variety of elements that break up friendships or any relationship, miscommunication namely being the major one, it also covers some topics that directly impact Black teens. There's conversations related to sexism, colorism, broken familial relationships, and featurism (this is one that I don't see talked about a lot). While I am an adult reader, it was easy to see how impactful this book will be to young adult audiences. Even though some people are blessed to keep friends that they make in middle school and high school, most of us don't. As a teenager I didn't have someone there to teach me what it meant to get through a friendship break up, a break-up that hurt me just as much as a relationship with a romantic partner. Browne beautifully captures those feelings and how the main character, Sky, is able to move on past them. There were parts of this book that broke my heart namely scenes where it felt as though Sky doesn't have anyone to lean on except her love for basketball. Nevertheless, Browne doesn't leave readers with feelings of brokenness. She reminds us that although friendships fall apart and cause us pain, it's okay to feel that pain, work through it, and move on. It's not a betrayal of your old relationship. Sometimes relationships just don't work and sometimes they are so toxic that it's importance to recognize one's self-work and let it go.

As an adult reader, I wanted Browne to explore some topics a little especially those related to colorism and featurism; however, I do understand that I am not the target audience for this book and I don't ever want to assume that the target audience is incapable of understanding the meaning behind those terms and how they impactful they are. Overall, I think that this was a great book. It's one that I will continue to recommend to the teens that I work with!
Profile Image for Oyinda.
660 reviews153 followers
May 6, 2021
Book 42 of 2021

Lately I've been on a roll of anticipated reads that proved to be worth the wait and this one has been no different. I loved this book so much and the narration was just amazing.

This novel in verse by Mahogany L Browne is short but covers a lot of issues so well! Trigger warnings for bullying, and sexual assault. Sky, the main character, is struggling with a lot. Her home life isn’t great as her sister seems to hate her. School isn’t great either, but at least she has her best friend. Her romantic life is also non-existent. She seems to live in her best friend’s shadows in their social circles and seems to think she can’t measure up, especially when it comes to physical appearances.

Sky thrives in swimming and basketball, and is at her happiest and freest when she’s in the water. She plays ball but tones her skills down so as not to intimidate the boys, to the dismay of her cousin who’s more of a sister to her.

This book examines friendships, family, love, and the fragility of relationships. Relationships require effort, commitment, and communication to thrive – it’s not just about the tags or the longevity, as shown in this book. After a fight leads to her best friend icing her out and cutting her off, Sky finds herself completely alone. A new boyfriend, a new friend, and some experiences later, Sky learns a lot of lessons in this book and it was an emotional journey for Sky as well as for me as a reader.

I found myself tearing up from very early on in this book, as some of Sky’s statements and sentiments about herself got to me. It’s a great book about letting go and moving on. Narrated by the author, the audiobook was simply exquisite. I enjoyed listening to it so much!

I enjoyed this and I definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,485 reviews190 followers
January 22, 2021
4.5 Stars


Well that was a powerful YA verse novel about conflict within a friendship.

Mahogany's novel looks at the relatable story of how a once solid friendship breaks down. Jealousy, misunderstandings, and miscommunication are captured beautifully. I also appreciated how the author explored changing dynamics within relationships, and how personal growth alters the way someone connects with or relates to those around them. In this instance, as Sky becomes more sure of herself she is less comfortable having such a dominant friend. Lay Li expects Sky to conform to the standards she sets despite Sky not feeling these are a true reflection of who she is. I loved that Mahogany highlighted what equitable friendships look and feel like. Full disclosure, I had a few tear pricks of emotional pride at various points. Also, YES to another YA book with a skilled and ambitious sportswoman as the main character! Thoroughly engaging book about female empowerment.
Profile Image for Sheena.
576 reviews255 followers
December 16, 2020
A novel told in verse always reminds me of Elizabeth Acevedo and Nic Stone. In my opinion, Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne is definitely able to be categorized in with them. Skyy is constantly dealing with a mean half sister and a best friend who isn’t a good friend to her. She learns how to stand up for herself and focus on what’s best for her rather than catering to others or being sucked into toxic relationships. Skyy finds her own hobbies such as swimming and playing basketball and along the way she finds a new friend. She does struggle with the fall out of her ex-best friend and I love how it was shown that it's not always easy to go through. Books don’t talk enough about losing friends and how hard it can be sometimes. The writing was done well at being able to portray these different feelings through verse. I look forward to more from Browne in the future!

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown BYFR, Random House for a copy of this e-arc in exchange for an honest review. 
Profile Image for Misha (Heartsfullofreads).
197 reviews46 followers
January 12, 2021
This book is both a beautiful and powerful read. It is incredibly important for young girls to know that they are not alone in their feelings. Growing up can be hard.
We adults forget that sometimes.

Sky transported me back to the days where I was really just finidng myself. Sky shared her insecurities about not being able to dress the same as everyone else. She also felt that she wasn't as pretty as other girls.

I remember the struggle of having petty girl fights and wondering if we'd still be friends the next day. Sky said it best 'heavy business. It’s like a basketball game with no referee Just two teams & everybody play by they own rules'.

I very much enjoyed this read and can't wait to gift it to my daughter. What a great way to open the door for discussions about insecurities, tricky friendships, and first kisses.
Profile Image for eli ♡ .
160 reviews140 followers
March 3, 2021
wow. I loved this.


*deeply inhales* Our main protagonist, Skyy, has a hateful sister, Essa, and a mother who works extremely hard to provide for them. I believe Skyy's father was in and out of prison, and was never really in the family picture with the rest of them. And Skyy doesn't have much confidence in herself, so she relies on being invisible with her basketball shorts and large shirts.

But she can't be invisible with her friend Lay Li because she always grabs everyone's attention with her bright clothes and gravitating confidence. Lay Li always tells Skyy that she shouldn't be wearing basketball shorts all the time, and always questions her interest in basketball instead of fashion. Their relationship is shaky from the jump, but once they face certain problems in their lives, their relationship is really put to the test.

This was such a powerful novel and I loved it so much. Skyy really has so many problems that she deals with on her own because her sister hates her, her mother is always busy, and neither Lay Li nor anyone else cares about her problems. So whenever Skyy tries to step out of Lay Li's spotlight and become her own person, she always feels like she won't be enough or that she'll never be like Lay Li. And as the story progresses, I enjoyed seeing Skyy confront Lay Li for what a horrible friend she is, find herself, and become comfortable with the positive people in her life.

The writing played a huge part in this because the reader can understand how suffocated Skyy feels under the pressure society places on her as a Black girl. The writing and storytelling are one of my favorite parts about this novel because they go back and show different events towards the end that really add to the story. When certain events are described, they're described using such great figurative language that thrust me into the story even more.

"It's like a basketball game with no referee
Just two teams & everybody play by they own rules
People only care about winning
You have to mind the ball or the gravity
But people only care about wining
They don't care who they take from
They don't care about how foul they be
So you pivot & protect yourself
Until something or someone else comes for you
& they foul & double dribble & challenge you like a bully
But when you do it back--they call you a bad sport"

"Lay Li pretty
& they boyfriends at the skate rink
forget they home training around her.
So when Curtis say the things
I've already said about myself
& she laugh
I know deep down inside
she ain't never cared about me at all."

This was one of my favorite quotes

"The light gets too hot for brown girls like me to feel safe.

This is when I learned to not play as smart

This is when I learned to keep my hands
in my lap during Mr. Wacobi's class.

This is when I learned to not run as fast.

This is when I stop beating the boys
in running
& kickball
& tether ball
& T-ball

This is how I learn to not play as big
'cause nobody got time for a girl outshining them."

Girl, you better say that again for the people in the back.

And the plot of this novel really gave this book the foundation for such incredible writing. I felt like every chapter I read of this novel, there were different layers I had to peel to find the full story. The plot itself was very captivating, and I truly enjoyed it. Seeing the dynamic relationship between Skyy and Lay Li was just so interesting. I thought that it was simple at first, that Skyy should just leave her and that's it, but it was more complex than that.

The characters in this novel all played a huge part in this story.

Skyy has a lot of problems she didn't know what to do with, so she depended on Lay Li to provide what she was missing, but it wasn't Lay Li's job to give that to her. Skyy discovered in the end that she had to find it for herself, and she did. She was pretty complex, and I loved her confidence and resilience. Throughout the story, Skyy has all these experiences that change how she viewed herself, and I was so happy to see her view herself in a positive light.

Lay Li was pretty self-centered and wasn't a good friend. She didn't defend Skyy when people made fun of her, and even made fun of her without even realizing it. I get that she wants to look "perfect" and "cute" so people can't see that she's insecure, but she hurt her friend in the process, and I just can't get with that. I do like the fact that she's caring towards her younger siblings and takes care of them, but I'm wondering why she can't show that same hospitality to her friend as well.

Curtis & Clifton were horrible. First of all, why does Clifton's name remind me of Clifford the Big Red Dog? He's a dog, and so is Clifton, so that makes sense. Curtis called Skyy "black, ugly, and stupid" since she's brown-skinned, and he light-skinned. And Clifton ain't nothing better. He . So yeah, they're both poo.

Essa was interesting. She was very confident in how she looked and who she was, and always had people gravitating towards her. But Essa was so rude and mean to her sister, and tries to just ignore her existence. Yet when she looks at Skyy from a different perspective towards the end and sees there's something going on with her, she doesn't want to apologize for her actions. I didn't really understand her, but I included her because she had a large part to play in Skyy's growing insecurities.

So to conclude, I truly enjoyed this novel. There was a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and jealously in this novel that was captured perfectly. I do wish that in the end, it was more clear where Skyy stood on her relationship with Lay Li. I was also pretty curious on Skyy's family situation. I had a general idea of what their family was like, and even though I would've liked to learn more about it, I know that this novel is more centered around the friendship. But other than that, I enjoyed this novel, and I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,978 reviews3,297 followers
January 16, 2021
Chlorine Sky is a novel-in-verse that is brief but packs a punch. It's a coming of age story following a Black teen girl grappling with first love, toxic friendships, difficult family circumstances, and casual misogyny while trying to figure out who she wants to become. It took a little while for me to get into the style, but it's a beautiful and certainly worth a read. I received an audio copy for review via the Penguin Random House Volumes App, and I think the audiobook is done very well. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for celine.
129 reviews
January 13, 2022
"Everybody wants to be a hero, but most of us are just misunderstood villains."

"In California, the weather will match your temper / if you ain't careful"

"Lay Li looked at me & I looked back / Like that / Everything is dust"

"until the sun gets so hot / I jump in & cool my sadness down"

Profile Image for Romie.
1,061 reviews1,272 followers
February 14, 2021
the audiobook—narrated by the author—is absolutely amazing! the story was really touching and really relatable when it comes to friendship breakups and doubting your worth because of the way your sibling treats you. and the writing was beautiful! (3.85)
Profile Image for Toya (the reading chemist).
1,099 reviews96 followers
January 14, 2021
If you are a fan of Elizabeth Acevedo then you NEED this book.

Chlorine Sky is an incredibly powerful and poignant coming of age story written in verse.

While Sky may be the best basketball player, she lives with so many insecurities. Sky battles some serious internalized racism thanks to the colorism comments she constantly deals with from both family and friends. She clings toxic friendships because it’s better than being alone. Sky has a half sister that doesn’t even acknowledge her existence, and to top it off, her home life is far from stable.

Sky’s story is gripping and visceral but very much rooted in the truth that so many Black teens face. This is such a fantastic novella.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Audio for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,040 followers
January 8, 2021
I know Mahogany L. Brown from her work on the The BreakBeat Poets, Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic volume of The BreakBeat Poets, and here she writes a novel in verse about a teenager navigating tensions with a friend who she may be outgrowing. I listened to the audio as read by the author, obviously the best way.

This will count for the middle grade or YA category of the #tfbwlreadingchallenge.

I had advanced access to the book through the Volumes app; it comes out January 12th.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,018 reviews72 followers
June 28, 2021
This is another "so real it hurts" book, which novels in verse are exceptionally good at. The poetry is particularly good - it reads like poetry, not chopped up sentences, which is where many YA verse novels end up.
Profile Image for Brandie Shanae Bridges.
189 reviews126 followers
January 10, 2021
This book is about a girl named Sky who is always concerned about herself. In her mind she wanted to know how/what people thought of her and what type of clothes she is wearing(wondering if people liked what she was wearing). The only reason why she thinks this way is because she cares about what people think about her. Though her so Calle friend Lay Li always tries to get her to wear certain clothes, etc in order for people to like and notice her. But the only person that builds her up and her confidence is her Aunt Inga. Now mind you Sky loves to play basketball because she feels invincible and on top of that she feels like she has control over her own actions and not worrying about how and what people say about her. Her friend Lay Li is definitely not her friend because she has people talk about Sky and she never has her back at all. It even came down to the point where Lay Li accused Sky of getting involved with her and boyfriend Curtis relationship, which was clearly not the case. And so Lay Li pretty much switched up on Sky and was treating her wrong. Though soon after Sky and Lay Li fall out, Sky meets a girl named Kiyana who definitely looks out for Sky and always has her back. As Sky developed a new friendship that was real Sky was beginning to develop confidence in herself. In the beginning her self-esteem was low, but the more and more she spoke with her aunt Inga and knowing what true friendship is she not only gained a true friend...Sk also gained confidence within herself and started to love herself regardless of what people thought of her. This was definitely a great read and I will be reading it again.
Profile Image for Kajree Gautom.
567 reviews
January 19, 2021
I really liked the premise of this book. Friendship tales area one of my favorites and I was very excited to read it. While I did like the overall message that this book gave out, there were a lot of parts I didn't like. First, the pacing was so off. There was a constant break between one scene and the other and multiple distant stories played out randomly in the middle that kind of threw me off and I found myself skipping through those because they didn't really add much to the story. Second, I wish there was more to the story, more about our MC's life and experiences that didn't relate with her friend and love interest. I wanted to see more of her ball playing scenes, more of her family life, how the relationship between her and her sister resolved? - I just wanted more as the ending felt so abrupt.

It was poetic and had some beautiful verse, I don't lie. And I enjoyed the bits where the MC learns to stand up for herself. It was good but not my favorite, is all.
Profile Image for Dawn.
342 reviews60 followers
February 5, 2021
Written beautifully, great concept, short and sweet. The book was relatable for anyone who felt unseen as a teenager and was able to find their voice due to a dramatic event. I mostly related to the ending in which the protagonist affirmed her place in this word. Please keep in mind this was written in verse (I didn’t know before hand) and reads more like a poem than a novel. 4.5 stars rounded down because I wanted more examining of the relationship between the main character and her mother before the end.
Profile Image for jut.
472 reviews165 followers
January 13, 2021
“i don’t know who i am. i don’t know if i’m okay. i don’t know. i don’t know. but i’ll figure it out.”

going through a friendship breakup can be even harder than romantic breakups, this verses were so pure, they touch your soul!
Profile Image for Allie (alliewithbooks).
322 reviews596 followers
March 18, 2022
This novel in verse packed a huge punch for such a small package. What really drew me in first was that it’s about a young girl who has a passion for basketball, which I totally relate to. I played basketball constantly from the time I was about 5 until I was about 12/13. It was my entire life. I also loved how much this book explored the messiness of teen friendships/relationships. People can be mean, either intentionally so or unintentionally, and that’s especially true in your teenage years. It also did a great job at showing how complicated family relationships can be, especially when you still love and care about them despite the way they make you feel. This hit hard in the subtlest of ways, and I highly recommend it.
February 5, 2021
I felt this could’ve been much longer and that there was much more meat to this story, but other than that, Mahogany L. Browne’s Chlorine Sky is a fantastic debut that explores Black girlhood, teen anxieties, relationships with other girls, exploring your self, and what family means. I look forward to reading more from Browne!
(CW: sexual assault, absent parent, friendship breakups)
Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the e-ARC!
Profile Image for Alexia.
222 reviews33 followers
January 22, 2021
I really enjoyed how this book touched on colorism, the struggles of growing up, strained family relations, and friendship breakups. I wished there were more books on friendship breakups and how those can affect you, so this was a great addition to the existing collection. Browne is a very talented writer, and I can't wait to read more by them.

*Thank you to the publisher for a finished copy. All opinions are my own*
Profile Image for Sana.
1,076 reviews956 followers
Shelved as 'to-read-so-bad-it-hurts'
July 8, 2020
'A novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend'

Okay, I'm ready to get my heart broken
Profile Image for elise (the petite punk).
388 reviews117 followers
January 20, 2022
This was a beautifully written novel in verse! I love coming of age books that explore all sorts of social topics. This wasn’t my favorite novel in verse—there were some fantastic lines but the overall story didn’t capture my attention—but I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and easy read.

✧ ✧ ✧

≪reading 31 books for 31 days of january≫
╰┈➤ 1. all that's left in the world by erik j. brown
╰┈➤ 2. the female of the species by mindy mcginnis
╰┈➤ 3. the battle of the labyrinth by rick riordan
╰┈➤ 4. exit west by mohsin hamid
╰┈➤ 5. don't call us dead by danez smith
╰┈➤ 6. warm bodies by isaac marion
╰┈➤ 7. the other side of perfect by mariko turk
╰┈➤ 8. the last olympian by rick riordan
╰┈➤ 9. counting down with you by tashie bhuiyan
╰┈➤ 10. a matter of death and life by irvin d. yalom and marilyn yalom
╰┈➤ 11. the new hunger by isaac marion
╰┈➤ 12. dorothy must die by danielle paige
╰┈➤ 13. starfish by lisa fipps
╰┈➤ 14. one true loves by elise bryant
╰┈➤ 15. chlorine sky by mahogany l. browne
Profile Image for Gary Anderson.
Author 1 book83 followers
January 9, 2021
Chlorine Sky is Mahogany L. Browne’s debut novel in verse that will appeal to fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, and Ibi Zoboi. Skyy is a baller, a girl with mighty basketball skills. She also has dysfunctional relationships with her family and friends. The plot is a little thin, but the attitude and vibrant language break through as Browne finds the poetry in urban vernacular and reveals metaphorical life lessons through basketball. Young readers who enjoy discovering new authors will find Mahogany L. Browne an exciting voice to follow.

Thanks to Libro.fm for providing early educator access to Chlorine Sky.
Profile Image for Alexis.
621 reviews
February 2, 2021
I listened to the audiobook which was the author reading and it gave me CHILLS the entire time. Her voice was magical and her rhythm was perfect. I loved how she portrayed high school and growing up and sometimes away from friends.
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