Cover Reveal: Candice Iloh’s SALT THE WATER
From Printz honoree and National Book Award finalist Candice Iloh, comes Salt the Water, a verse novel about Cerulean Gene, a nonbinary Black teenager searching for a new way to do more than survive in post-pandemic America.
Scroll down to see the stunning cover and read an excerpt, and remember to preorder your copy here.
Cerulean Gene is free everywhere except school, where they’re known for repeatedly challenging authority. Raised in a free-spirited home by two loving parents who encourage Cerulean to be their full self, they’ve got big dreams of moving cross-country to live off the grid with their friends after graduation. But a fight with a teacher spirals out of control, and Cerulean impulsively drops out to avoid the punishment they fear is coming. Why wait for graduation to leave an oppressive capitalist system and live their dreams?
Cerulean is truly brilliant, but their sheltered upbringing hasn’t prepared them for the consequences of their choice — especially not when it’s compounded by a family emergency that puts a parent out of work. Suddenly the money they’d been stacking with their friends is a resource that the family needs to stay afloat.
Salt the Water is a book about dreaming in a world that has other plans for your time, your youth, and your future. It asks, what does it look like when a bunch of queer Black kids are allowed to dream? And what does it look like for them to confront the present circumstances of the people they love while still pursuing a wildly different future of their own?
“There are many things Iloh accomplishes in Salt The Water, but the most impressive, and arguably the most important, is that this unflinching portrayal of the necessary irreverence of Black teenagers on a complicated quest for self-actualization is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.”—Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author of Long Way Down
“Candice Iloh has painted a deeply moving portrait of Cerulean, a passionate and bright teen whose abrasive school life is in direct contrast to their loving and tender home life in the Bronx. Urban gardens serve as a poignant yet hopeful metaphor for the nurturing and care that young people need to navigate tumultuous cityscapes, public schools, and the fragile fault lines in their lives and in the world.” —Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestselling co-author of Punching the Air
“Candice Iloh’s Salt the Water invites the radical work of envisioning freedom. I learned so much from seventeen-year-old Cerulean: to do more than hope for and dream of freedom, but to plan for it. To bury my hands in the soil, in the vibrant verse of this story. To go there.”— Safia Elhillo, award winning author of Home Is Not a Country and Girls that Never Die
Read a sneak peek from Salt The Water:
last summer we’d come up with The Pact: realizing P.S. 5000 would never send us somewhere worth the trip we’d pool our money to book tickets to sunny California for a summer / we always been just a bunch of Bronx babies knowing nothing much but bodegas, superspreader house parties & subway horror stories / but we knew something else might be on the other side / we all knew we needed to find something different than the go- to- college or bad- reality- show conveyor belt so our hustle became dreaming about what it might be like to live a different life / one filled with art / love / sunshine on our faces / not all of us were artists but we knew we wanted to create some other kind of world / somewhere / that’d allow all of us to be ourselves / something like the world Iya & Baba had made for my brother & me
but something we’d never seen