I’ve just finished the book that I’ve received from the author herself, Kristina Forest. She put out a post about wanting black vloggers and bloggers to read her book and review it and I hopped at the opportunity to do so! I’ve received a free Kindle copy of the book “Zyla & Kai” and this was the first book that I’ve read from this author. I def want to check out her other books as well!
This is a book about a hopeless romantic who falls for a girl who is cynical about romance and relationships due to what she’s seen from her parents. This book has a dual timeline and dual point of views. Just what did I think of this book? Read on to find out!
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While on a school trip to the Poconos Mountains (in the middle of a storm) high school seniors, Zyla Matthews and Kai Johnson, run away together leaving their friends and family confused. As far as everyone knows, Zyla and Kai have been broken up for months. And honestly? Their break up hadn’t surprised anyone. Zyla and Kai met while working together at an amusement park the previous summer, and they couldn’t have been more different. Zyla was a cynic about love. She’d witnessed the dissolution of her parents’ marriage early in life, and it left an indelible impression. Her only aim was graduating and going to fashion school abroad. Until she met Kai. Kai was a serial dater and a hopeless romantic. He’d put a temporary pause on his dating life before senior year to focus on school and getting into his dream HBCU. Until he met Zyla. Alternating between the past and present, we see the love story unfold from Zyla’s and Kai’s perspectives: how they first became the unlikeliest of friends over the summer, how they fell in love during the school year, and why they ultimately broke up… Or did they? Romantic, heart-stirring, and a little mysterious, Zyla & Kai will keep readers guessing until the last chapter.
What can I say? It was kinda cute. Kai did get on my nerves now lol. I have the attitude of Aunt Ida lol so whenever he’d say something sweet or whatever, I’d roll my eyes. I did identify with him and his due to his parents. I won’t spoil it but he comes to realize something about himself. But this books is cute.
I love how she talked about issues that affect us (BIPOC) for example, when she talked about how we learn history through the lens of cis white males. Our history isn’t really taught (unless it’s during black history month) and it’s honestly not fair. For example, the women behind “Hidden Figures” was mentioned and he was right. I’ve never heard of them until the movie came out and they play a significant part of history. The fact that school curriculum didn’t highlight that angers me. Just like Kai, my family made sure I learned more Black History than what they taught in school, which honestly because of the climate of this country, less and less learning about black figures is happening and it’s not far. It shouldn’t be up to the parents at home to teach their child about their history.
Something else that I loved…therapy. She had a black male lead going to therapy. Do you know how happy that made my heart?! I love it when I see someone talking about going to therapy because mental health is so close to my heart. It means even more to me because we need to normalize therapy in the black community. The fact that it was a guy just put the icing on the cake for me because how many black males do you know who is open about going to therapy let alone admit that he actually needs help. He even told Zyla “I mean, I personally think everyone could benefit from therapy”.
Something that I struggled with, if I’m being honest, was the whole black love relationship thing. I’m a cynic like Zyla when I see couples in relationship when they’re both black. I know its bad because I’m black but I’m also someone who believes in interracial relationships so it was like every time I read Kai say something a romantic would say, I low key would roll my eyes. I felt like Zyla’s aunt Ida at times lol when she talked about how men cheat and lie and hurt you. I mean Zyla was Kai’s tenth girlfriend…that should tell you something about him. She was actually pretty funny. I felt the same sentiments of Beatrice when she thought “By choosing Kai, Zyla is making the wrong choice…it’s not worth it”. It was for a totally different reason but I agree with her!
The only thing I had in common with Zyla was that I couldn’t wait to get away when I was looking at colleges. But the big thing is that I had never dated before. Like I still have never been in a relationship still to this day! Thats where she has me beat! I was annoyed at how she allowed herself to get distracted like to me she should’ve just waited until she got to college to start dating but it wouldn’t be a love story without the romance.
Something that stood out to me that I actually wrote my friends about after I read that part was the discovery that I had abandonment issues like Kai. My parents died when I was little leaving me to be raised by my relatives (like Kai) and I want (yearn/pine over) love and relationships.
I give this book 3/5 stars and I recommend this! It’s perfect in your classroom library or if you like reading YA literature.
Title: Zyla & Kai
Author: Kristina Forest
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
Genre: YA Romance
Buy it here: Bookshop.org
What summer time romance reed have you enjoyed recently?