Bitter cover
Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi

By Akwaeke Emezi
Knopf, 2022
272 pages

Age 12 and older

Bitter, who is Black, spent much of her childhood in foster care. Now she’s at Eucalyptus, a residential school for young artists run by the regal and mysterious Miss Virtue. Outside the walls of Eucalyptus, the fight for racial and economic justice in the city of Lucille is fierce, with young activists from a group called Assata regularly holding peaceful, forceful protests that the police often respond to violently. Bitter doesn’t want anything to do with the protests. It’s not that she doesn’t care, but she’s overwhelmed by her past, and the chaos; Eucalyptus is a safe haven she doesn’t want to leave. But when one of the protesters with whom she’s friends is seriously hurt, and another killed, Bitter expresses her rage through art, and then uses her own blood to bring her creation to life. The beings she’s created this way in the past have always been ephemeral, and harmless. This creature is neither. It insists Bitter call it by the name she chose in her head–the feeling driving her as she created it–Vengeance. And it insists on being sated, drawing others into its sphere of influence along the way. But what kind of world does Vengeance want to create? This prequel to Pet featuring Pet’s parents, Bitter and Aloe, as teens, looks at big questions about activism and social justice while illuminating how protest movements encompass many kinds of activism, including art and music as forms of protest, resistance, and unity. ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center