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Upstate: A Novel
     

Upstate: A Novel

4.6 42
by Kalisha Buckhanon
 

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"Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father?"

So begins Upstate, a powerful story told through letters between seventeen-year-old Antonio and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Natasha, set in the 1990's in New York. Antonio and Natasha's world is turned upside down, and their young love is put to the test, when

Overview

"Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father?"

So begins Upstate, a powerful story told through letters between seventeen-year-old Antonio and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Natasha, set in the 1990's in New York. Antonio and Natasha's world is turned upside down, and their young love is put to the test, when Antonio finds himself in jail, accused of a shocking crime. Antonio fights to stay alive on the inside, while on the outside, Natasha faces choices that will change her life. Over the course of a decade, they share a desperate correspondence. Often, they have only each other to turn to as life takes them down separate paths and leaves them wondering if they will ever find their way back together.

Startling, real, and filled with raw emotion, Upstate is an unforgettable coming-of-age story with a message of undeniable hope. Brilliant and profoundly felt, it is destined to speak to a new generation of readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429902441
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/01/2007
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
289
Sales rank:
786,722
File size:
473 KB

Read an Excerpt

Upstate


By Kalisha Buckhanon

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2005 Kalisha Buckhanon
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-0244-1


CHAPTER 1

PART ONE


January 25, 1990

Dear Natasha,


Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father? I need to know if you believe what everybody saying about me because I need to know if you got my back. Right now I don't know who in my corner and who ain't. I looked in the mirror this morning and I didn't see nothing. That's how I feel, like I'm nothing. Like nobody see me or hear me or care about me or care what I got to say. Ma told me that some of my cuzos say they gonna kill me when I get out, say they gonna put a shank in my throat just like everybody say I did my daddy. They saying I better hope I got to do time cause when I get out it's a wrap. But see, they don't know me like you do. They don't know what I been through like you do. You was the only person who ever listened to me, you mostly, maybe Trevon and Black. Sometimes Ma. But mostly you. Remember all the shit we used to talk about late at night on the phone? About dropping out of school and going to Mexico or down South or somewhere like that? About us opening up some businesses and shit? About my music and me balling and you doing hair and shit? I know you remember. I do. I remember every word you ever said to me.

You thinking about me? I hope so because I'm thinking about you. I know you hadn't heard from me, but I'm in a large holding cell right now with a bunch of other cats, they trying to decide if I should be transported because I'm a juvenile. But they gonna move me soon, that's for sure. I'll let you know when they move me and where I'm at. I'm not even supposed to be writing this and mailing it to you cause I ain't got those privileges where I'm at. But two cats been looking out for me these past few days said, Tell us what you need son and we can hook you up; they've been here many times before. I told them, I need to write my girl. They know a guard who keep the communication flowing between the outside and in, so that's why you getting this letter. Baby girl I miss your fine ass so much I can't even think about how I'm gonna get out of this shit. I can't believe I'm here. Don't even know how I got here. I don't care. I'm thinking about the last time we saw each other. It seem like just yesterday me and you was bugging out in St. Nick Park, jumping over cars and shit. Member that white man watering his plants on his fire escape, and how he hollered bout calling the pigs and Black threw a bottle up at his ass and told him to get out of our hood? That shit was wild, that shit was funny. It was fun, the best time in my life. Then remember me and you went up them high steps that go to city college, and you let me suck your titties and rub you until you got all creamy and wet? I know you wanted to do something, if Black and Laneice wouldn't have been all up in the business, laughing and shit. Mad because they wasn't getting none. Remember what you said when we was walking back down and you was buttoning up your shirt and patting your baby hair down? Remember when you said you loved me?

Write back soon,

Antonio


January 27, 1990

Dear Antonio,

What happened? Did you kill him? Did you really do it? It's been on the news, in the papers, everything. Everybody at school and on the block keep asking me, keep wanting to know if I was there and if I seen it and if I helped you keep it a secret. I keep telling them naw, I didn't have nothing to do with that shit, but they don't believe me. Popos been over here three times asking me questions. They keep asking me was you on drugs and did you hit me and stuff like that. I told them no, but they kept on asking and they wouldn't leave and Mommy was getting upset. So, I didn't want to, but I told them you get high. I lied and said you didn't do it that much, just once in a while. They asked me if you did crack and I said "Hell no! Antonio wasn't no hype, he just smoked weed that's all." I think they believe me because they ain't been back since. You know I would never give you up, I would never tell about any of the shit you did. That's how much I love you. I got your back baby, cause I know you would do the same for me. I miss you so much I can't even breathe. I can't even get on the train or the bus no more cause I'm so used to taking it with you. I been walking everywhere now, but I don't mind. It give me some time to think, to clear my head, to figure out what the hell is happening with you, with me, with everything.

People at school won't stop staring at me and asking me questions. And Mr. Lombard, with his two-faced racist ass, had kept me in class after algebra wanting to know if I was okay and if I needed to talk to somebody. I didn't tell him shit either. I told him I was fine and I just wanted to go home so I could get ready to fix dinner cause Mommy was working late. I still ain't forgot about how he lied on me and said I was talking in class when I wasn't and I got in detention hall for a week. Don't try to be my friend now. But anyway, that's off the subject of what happened. I want you to tell me what happened. I promise to God swear on my daddy's grave that I won't tell nobody, not anybody, not even one living soul, not even Mommy. Just tell me. It won't make no difference. What I said that night was true.

Love Always,

Natasha


February 1, 1990

Baby Girl,

This the deal yo, I can't talk about nuthin. I don't want to tell you what happened unless we face to face in private. I can't talk about nuthin. Everybody up in my business, out to get me. I can feel it. I can tell. I can see everybody looking at me, I can hear them talking about me. Them motherfuckers opened your letter. They opened my shit and read it. When I got the envelope, it was ripped in half and the letter looked like it had been wet up. So, I know they reading this. I know they read everything I write. I wanted to tell the cracker who brought it to me that he ain't had no right to read my baby's shit, that it was between a man and his woman and that's always sacred, but I didn't say nothing. I just shook my head, cause I'm not trying to make no trouble. I'm trying to get out of here. They not gonna get me on some dumb shit. They not gonna win. So, to whoever reading this, fuck you and your mama too. Fuck you over and over and over again. I hope you die.

I been sent up to another facility right now. — It's on some island right off the Bronx. Natasha, they put chains around my ankles and connected me to a lot of other cats being transported from Manhattan in this big van. The ride was bumpy, but quiet. Nobody said a word, nobody looked at each other. When we got to the new joint, they unchained us in this big room that looked like a warehouse and told us to take off all our clothes. We had to stand there naked. I was shaking it was so cold, and one by one they searched our mouths and other places I don't want to tell you about. I got my own room with a tiny cot, a toilet with a sink on top, and this really long, narrow window that's about three feet tall. The walls is white concrete like in the pj's. I'm writing really fast cause I wanna finish this letter before dark. There's no light, when the sun goes down, that's it. But I don't care. At least I'm not in a holding cell no more with twenty other funky cats and a stopped-up toilet like I was in Manhattan. People keep coming to talk to me — these court-appointed lawyers from someplace called the People's Advocacy or something like that. So far, it's been three different lawyers — this blond lady, some nerdy black dude, and now this fat white guy. Every time they switch they tell me the other one got busy cause they're overloaded with cases. I just say, Oh well as long as you know I'm not a murderer and what I did was in self-defense. I don't think any of them believed me though, cause they all said, That's what they all say and let me decide your defense. I feel a million miles from Harlem. But I think I can see the Empire State Building from here. I wish I could tell you everything that's happened to me, but it seem like it happened so fast I can't remember nothing.

A neighbor in my building called the popo's on the night everything went down. She had heard all the noise coming from my apartment, but when they came my mother answered and told them everything was alright. They came back a few days later after my daddy didn't show up for work for two days and we didn't answer the phone. My mother begged me not to open the door, begged me not to fess to anything, but I pushed her off me and told her that I was a man and I would live up to what I had done. I opened the door myself and took them to where my daddy was. They threw me down on the ground in front of Ma, Trevon, and Tyler. I put my hands behind my head — I didn't resist. But they didn't care. They put their knees in my back and twisted my arms anyway when they put the handcuffs on. They took me to a police station all the way downtown and fingerprinted me and took a mug shot. They left me in a dark room with a slide-back window overnight. They didn't give me nothing to eat or drink. They didn't let me out to go to the bathroom and I had to whizz in the corner cause I was already a little sour under the arms, just from being scared and getting roughed up, and I didn't want to piss on myself and smell like that too. Next thing I knew, I was in this big room all by myself with three cops asking me why I stabbed my father over a dozen times. By then, I was having second thoughts about confessing so I just lied and said I didn't do nothing until they got tired of screaming and yelling at me. They just handcuffed my hands and ankles together, and put me in this long hallway where other guys kept getting called in one by one to this room that I really couldn't see into. I asked the dude sitting next to me what was going on, and he said something about rain. When they finally brought me in there, I realized it was a courtroom and I was standing before a judge. This blond lady I never seen before — that was the first lawyer — said something about entering a plea of guilty by reason of insanity and I yelled, No I'm not crazy! The judge stopped everything and told my lawyer to take me back and calm me down and get our story straight before we show our faces again in his courtroom. They took me back to the first room and I was waiting for the lawyer to show up so I could explain to her that I was just trying to stop my daddy from hitting my mother and it was an accident and I'm not crazy I just stabbed him too hard when I just meant to scare him, but she never showed back up.

But Natasha I do want you to know I'm okay. I want you to know that you all I been thinking about and there ain't shit that's gonna tear us apart — not the cops, not these pen walls, not my daddy, nothing. I need you to come see me soon. I need to see your face so bad it hurts. I can't have no phone calls right now but we need to talk to each other in person so I can tell you what happened.

Write back soon,

Antonio


February 4, 1990

To My Baby:

Okay, so you still didn't go into details about what really happened, but it don't matter to me anyway. When I told you I loved you, I really did mean it. I'm glad I said it then because if I would have waited I would have never got to tell you face to face, just in a letter and that's not the right way to do it. So, I'm not gonna ask you no more what happened. I just know that whatever it was, it wasn't on you. It wasn't your fault. So, all that matter to me is that I know it wasn't your fault and you know I believe you didn't never want to hurt nobody. I walked past your locker today in the C wing. I know that ain't my wing and I wasn't supposed to be over there, but I think in my mind I kind of hoped that you might be standing there waiting for me after lunch the way you used to. Of course you wasn't, but I was glad I walked by anyway. It kind of smelled like you when I walked by. Not no bad smell cause I can see your face right now all twisted up. Naw it was real good. That black licorice oil you wear and Cherry Now n' Laters you like and that coconut hair grease I used to put on your scalp before me or Laneice braid your hair. That's one of the things I love about you, the way you smell. Sweet all the time, like a girl. I bet you wanna know some of the other things I love about you. Well, I like the way you kiss me all deep, the bumpy curls on your head that are soft like cotton balls, the muscles in your arms and your stomach, the way you say my name, the way you put your palms on your cheek sometimes when you talk, that birthmark on your left shoulder, and the way you say other words like son and for real and baby sometimes (when we doing it). What you love about me? You never told me before so might as well tell me now.

Love,

Natasha


February 4, 1990

Dear Natasha,

They gonna let my mother come see me. I don't know the exact day yet, but my lawyer asked me if there was anything I needed and I told him I wanted to see my family. He said he could try to get me that privilege since I'm only sixteen and all. So, they gonna let her come. You try to come too. I really need to see you. I can't write much cause the sun is already down and I can hardly see in the moonlight. Just try to come see me.

Love,

A


February 7, 1990

Dear Antonio,

I talked to you mother and I think we all gonna come up there and visit you this weekend, especially since your birthday coming up. I had planned on buying you some new kicks and a cap and maybe even a chain if I had enough. Wish I could cop you a nickel bag. The lawyer said family only, but Black said we could lie about it. He said that when his cousin was moved upstate from Riker's, the whole school came to see him and his cousin's moms just kept on telling the guards, "My man kept me real busy." I thought that shit was funny. So, we gonna be there on Sunday. I think that only four or five people can go. I know your mother said she going, and she gonna bring Trevon because he 13 and old enough. But she said she didn't want to bring Tyler. She said he was too young, that she didn't want him to see his big bro like that. I think he would love to see his big bro no matter what, but I guess that's her son so she gotta right to do what she want.

I know your problems are bigger than mine right now, but Antonio I just have to say I'm so sick of hearing my mommy's and stepdaddy's mouths I don't know what to do. All they talk about is this shit that happened and how they told me to stay away from you. I wish I could tell them to go to hell, but I can't. I wouldn't have nowhere else to go. I don't want to do like Drew did when Mommy got with Roy, move to Grandma's house in the Bronx. It's too far from school and my friends and you. I'm a Harlem Chick 4 Life!!!!!! That's why I'll be glad when all this shit is over and you get out because I think that we should get our own place. I think that we should just go and apply for one of those nice, new buildings that they fixing up finally around here, and we can stay in one of them. I went past one the other day, on 123rd and 8th. It's going to be called "Frederick Douglass Gardens" when it's finished. Wouldn't that be nice baby, to live in something called Frederick Douglass? At least I know that Frederick Douglass was black and he tried to free the slaves, I think. He was somebody who was brave and didn't take no shit and stood up for his rights. Right now, it's nothing but a big hole in the ground and a bunch of bricks and dust and wood and stuff. But they got a big billboard picture of what the building gonna look like and it's nice. It looked like a bunch of connected houses, with two and three stories. Not like the brownstones all stuck together or the pj's, but like real houses with a balcony and white paint and a nice little window on the front door. It was this nice Dominican man outside working on the building. He said he was the supervisor for the construction, so I figured he would know about moving in. So I asked him how you could move in. He told me they're condos and you had to buy them. I told him I wanted to try and he said that it was really hard because there was something like forty thousand applications for twenty houses. I told him I didn't think that there was even forty thousand people in Harlem, but I guess there are. Then he said that some of the applications was from people overseas and I wondered why somebody would want to move from overseas to Harlem, but I didn't ask him. I was running late for my hair appointment on 110 and Columbus. But he told me to call the phone number that was on the sign. That there was a lottery for people from the community, which I guess meant us. He was real nice. I gave the number to Mommy when I got home but she was too tired from work to call.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon. Copyright © 2005 Kalisha Buckhanon. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Kalisha Buckhanon was born in Kankakee, Illinois in 1977. She has been the recipient of awards and fellowships from the NAACP, Andrew Mellon Fund, Illinois Arts Council, Illinois Young Authors Commission, Mary Roberts Rhinehart Fund and the Chicago Black Writer's Conference. Her work has appeared in such publications as Michigan Quarterly Review and Warpland: A Journal of Black Literature and Ideas. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New School University and a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. She has taught literacy and writing to children on Chicago's South Side, in Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Upstate is her first novel.


Kalisha Buckhanon’s first novel, Upstate, won an American Library Association Alex Award and was nominated for the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award in Debut Fiction. Terry McMillan selected her to receive the first Terry McMillan Young Author Award in 2006. A recipient of a 2001 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship and an Andrew Mellon Fellow, Buckhanon frequently teaches writing and speaks throughout the country. She has a M.F.A. in creative writing from New School University in New York City, and both a B.A. and a M.A. in English language and literature from the University of Chicago. She was born in 1977 in Kankakee, Illinois.

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Upstate 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Upstate by Kalisha Buckhannon is a heart felt and touching book. It always has you wondering, 'What could possibly be said in the next letter?' Through the entire or at least most of the book I always thought I had an idea of just how the story might turn out. But every time what I thought would happen never even occurred. What I enjoyed most about the book was that unlike the average teen urban fiction books, this one did not have to happy ever after fairy tale ending. It had a very realistic conclusion. As I'm reading this book at 3:30 this morning, on Antonio's last letter all I could say was no Antonio, NO!!! I was taken so far back and so surprised and hurt all at the same time, it is unexplainable. You were never able to predict what happened and the book always took that turn that you would never wanted to see occur. That was one of my favorite things about the book because, you never ever could say well at the end....and that was what Actually happened. Cause there was a point in the book where I honestly thought, Natasha and Antonio were going to get through this happily ever after. At the beginning, all I could say was, 'Man this is just another average good love story where everybody gets what they want and ends up living happily ever after together.' Boy was I Wrong! There was also a point where I thought nothing else exciting could happen in the book but Antonio dying, but luckily neither occurred. Yet, this was still the best book I have read so far in my lifetime. Although it did not end happily ever after as a whole, the book was still encouraging. It showed you no matter what your circumstances you can do everything and overcome anything. I loved Ms. Buckhannon's analysis on life and us being puppets. I loved how Natasha accomplished great things in life (although I had a few words I wished I could have shared with her on her last letter's first sentence).I loved how Antonio pulled through and was trying to do well in the end. I love how, 'He finally let her Go.' I believe he truly had to finally let her go, to truly get a good hold on his new life. When I read the last paragraph of his last letter, I cried because the letters between Antonio and Natasha were or seemed to be the only things keeping them together or connected. And somewhere in all of our minds(readers, Antonio and Natasha) something just did not want to let the past go and move on, but this was a step that needed to be taken to make life better for the both of them, because holding on to the past does nothing but halt to possibilities of your future. And in the process of becoming a man, Antonio finally realized that there had already been enough road blocks in his future, so he did something about the one he did have power to control and, 'Finally let it go.' I don't think Antonio, Natasha, or we (as readers) were ready to see them let go and live apart. They grew from the teenagers who thought they were in love, to adults who realized they were in Life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am currently in a relationship with the most wonderful man, who is actually in prison. I can relate to this book so much. It's so hard without that other person and this book made me cry. It was like someone else actually understood my emotions. How I miss him, while I can only talk to him in letters. It's a heartbreaking story, but it's life. I definatly recommend it.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
UPSTATE is a powerful, moving story told in the form of letters written by Antonio and Natasha, two Harlem teens who are seventeen and sixteen years old, respectively, when the story starts. The first letter is from Antonio to his girlfriend Natasha, written from jail, asking if she believes what everyone else does: that Antonio murdered his father.

No matter what Natasha believes or what the truth is about what happened on that night, Antonio is convicted of the crime and goes to a prison in upstate New York (hence the title), sentenced to ten years. Ten years of just struggling to survive, clinging to his letters from Natasha, his lifeline even if they can't, realistically, be together forever, no matter what they believe as optimistic teenagers when Antonio first goes to jail. Natasha, on the other had, isn't having an easy time of growing up and becoming a real adult. She's facing tough choices, probably almost as desperate for the next letter as Antonio.

This is an emotional story, a love story, but a real one, not a happily-ever-after, "no problems whatsoever" story like a Disney movie. The characters in UPSTATE are just as real as the story, and Antonio's and Natasha's authentic voices are a great addition to this novel.

Usually, I am not a big fan of novels written in letter form (or e-mail or instant message form, as is sometimes now the case), but Kalisha Buckhanon's novel is certainly an exception to that. It is very well-written, with believable characters that make this story what it is: fantastic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A classic love story so real that I can feel it! The letters of love shared between Antonio and Natasha illustrated that young love is just as legitimate and wholesome as the love shared between two grown adults. The difficulty of expressing their true feelings, the hardship of understanding each other¿s worlds as well as keeping their promise of a future together all played out during the most ominous of circumstances. Throughout this novel, Antonio was incarcerated for the murder of his father leaving behind his youth, innocence, family, future and, true love, Natasha. The author took us on a journey into the mind of a man living in with no choices and having to face the repercussions of his actions each and every day of his term. Imagine having your freedom and choices stripped from you at this exact moment¿you couldn¿t come and go as you please, eat what you wanted to eat, go to a movie, take a leisurely stroll down the block or even mediate in peace. This is what Antonio had to face as we woke up each day behind bars while knowing that his family and friends whom loved him were suffering on the outside. I¿m not oblivious to how an incarceration affects the inmate and their family¿I too have family members in the system and it is a struggle for everyone involved. This author innovatively told the story of this boy¿s growth into manhood and told the story of the lives of those around him. The simplicity of Kalisha¿s approach to storytelling¿using letters exchanged between two torn lovers¿is unparalleled! But I am not surprised by her ingenious style after reading this book and, her recent release, Conception. Looking forward to seeing more beautiful work from this author!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've very picky when it comes to reading but from the first page of Upstate I was hooked. I couldn't put it down. Natasha and Antonio feel so real and the ending... WOW. Only book that ever made me cry!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kalisha Buckhanon's book 'Upstate' conveys a message to our hip-hop age young adults through the art of letters. The main Character Antonio is accused and then pleads guilty of manslaughter in the death of his father. He receives 10 years in prison but the sentence isn't the only thing he has to come to grips with. He is locked up at a prime age (17) of learning how to become a man. He is trying to maintain a relationship with his girlfriend Natasha at her prime age of discovering there is another world out there. This is a heart felt story with urban or street life as the backdrop. The letters between the lovers bring to life the past, present and future mistakes along with adulthood. As you read you start seeing the growth of both and the directions that both are going. This book is a very good read for adults but especially for our youth of today. The story is both innocent and pure with no overly explicit scenarios. Bravo!!! Ms. Buckhanon for creating a true to life urban love story
Guest More than 1 year ago
Upstate by Kalisha Buckhannon is a novel of coming of age. It¿s based on friendship and love. It¿s also about forgiveness and whether two teenagers love will survive. Many people can identify themselves with this book. I know girls who have had their boyfriends locked up. They know how hard it is waiting for them and just writing letters. The main characters are Antonio and Natasha. He's seventeen and she's sixteen. They keep their love alive by communicating through letters. They write to each other on the good and rough times. He's in jail worrying about his family and whether he will come out. She's outside worrying on whether to wait for him, get another boyfriend, and school. Both of them are honest to each other even though they conceal things from each other. However, the answer for them is time. What attracted me to this book was the cover. It is blood red with a pink butterfly in the middle. I think it's an appropriate cover because it symbolizes something about New York and Natasha. I truly enjoyed reading this novel. I cannot compare myself to them because i haven't experienced anything like it. Only maybe that I live in New York. Besides, it just let's you experience their true feelings through these amazing, detailed, and intimate letters. I recommend this book because it makes you feel part of it. You can be judgmental if you want and say,¿ Why did she say that?' Or you can just identify yourself with it. Besides, it was a new reading experience because I never had read anything like it. Just read the book and you won¿t regret it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! This was the first book i had ever read and cried. i could not put it down. i had to pry myself away to go to sleep. What Antonio and Natasha had was real. it shows what love goes through when one is given a sentece upstate. It showed how hard two people got to fight to keep it going when one is lockdown. Especially when it is young love. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a young real story about not only about love but life as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just like an artist who carefully chooses just the right brush to paint a beautiful work of art, Kalisha Buckhanon is a true artist with words, who has prudently chosen the epistolary technique and created a poignant tale bursting with emotion. In her debut novel, UPSTATE, Buckhanon immediately sets the tone with a splash of suspense in the very first line: 'Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father?' {page 3} Written as ongoing letters between Natasha and Antonio, two teenagers experiencing their first love, UPSTATE captures candid, raw emotion of the lovebirds and their ten-year challenging journey through life while Antonio is incarcerated. One day Antonio's biggest dilemma is passing Mr. Cook's English class and the next it's surviving being sent upstate, where he's serving time for the murder of his own father. In his heartfelt letters, Antonio often expresses his undying love and lust for Natasha. He also describes what he's going through in jail, from suspecting officers of reading his letters to feelings of isolation and fear. 'I feel alone, like I'm on the outside of the world looking in. Like a rocket ship going to the moon, staring out of the cockpit window at the earth I'm gonna die in here. I'm so alone, I'm gonna die.' {page 63} Natasha responds, professing her love, encouraging her man and keeping him up to date on all that is going on at school and with their friends. She also shares her feelings of sadness and loneliness. A particularly sad instance was her having to go to the prom without a date. As time goes on, the frequency of their letters decreases and the two begin to mature. Antonio pursues a GED while locked up and Natasha visits Paris on a student program and later goes to college. Challenges begin to mount as time and separation test their love. While UPSTATE is indeed a beautiful, creative work, I had a couple issues with it. Granted, it is a good, solid read but not necessarily a well-rounded story. Although, letters provide intimate discourse and _expression of one's innermost feelings, they also can be limiting, forcing an author to leave out parts of a story and viewpoints other than those of the letter writers. While I enjoyed the fresh spin of urban fiction, I longed for real interaction and dialogue from other characters, such as Antonio's mother. I had a strong desire to know more about this woman and what drove her frame of mind, before her son went to prison and after. Also, it might be a minor inconsistency, but was the character's name Antonio Michael or Michael Antonio? Nonetheless, UPSTATE is truly a moving tale about love, loss, sacrifice and survival. I look forward to the next creation from this literary artist. Reviewed by Joan Burke Stanford for Loose Leaves Book Review
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was beautiful. It gives you an outlook into a man who is trying to protect his family, even if it means spending most of his life in prison. Also the one person who truly loves is their for him every step of the way. So he never has to go through it alone and he always has love. Even though he is locked UPSTATE!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The use of exchanged letters is a literary tool that has been used most effectively in a number of novels. What most quickly comes to mind is the recent A Venetian Affair, the compelling story of two star crossed lovers. Once again we are torn by the emotional story of young love, although this time in a very different setting and brought to vivid live by the voices of Chadwick Boseman and Heather Simms. Listeners are captured by Antonio's opening lines to Natasha, 'Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father?' Born and bred in Harlem the teenagers are madly in love. Their idyll comes to an abrupt end when Antonio is jailed for the killing of his father. And so begins a ten year long correspondence. He is on the inside, desperately trying to stay alive. She is on the outside without him and facing a number of choices - all options that aren't available to him. Of course, both of them will change during this experience and due to the passage of time. The question is whether or not they can ever recapture the innocence and joy of the love they once shared. Upstate is a brave, touching, sometimes gritty debut novel with broad appeal. - Gail Cooke
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I originally picked up this book at a used book store about six years ago. It took me another two years after purchasing it to actually sit down and read it. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. The story of young love, loss and reconciliation kept me turning pages nonstop. It is an easy read. Eventually, I sold the book at the same store I picked it up at, but it was one of those books that instilled itself so deep in my soul that I regretted my decision almost instantly. But, after all of these years, I find myself purchasing it again. This story is still rooted deeply in my heart, and I'm excited to reunite with this old friend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well I'm looking for a good book to read and then I come apond this one. I'm going on what the comments are posting because everyone that I have read has expressed that this book is off the hook! So with that being said, I'm going to cop this book and I truly do hope that I enjoy this book just as much as you guys have. Happy reading Nook Lovers. Devotion143
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i read this book i fell in love with it thnx to my friend amanda always recomending the best books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book. A lot better than i thought it would be.
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Hellofellow_ More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. It was very interesting . I felt like I could actually feel like I was there in the story . It relates to people in real life and thats what I like about this book " upstate " . It's very mature, but I think people my age ( 14 - 18 ) could take this seriously . I liked the romance between the two couples Atonino and Natasha and how Natasha sacerficed everything to see him in jail . I also liked how it foreshadowed in the book. I recommend this to people especially teenagers who are caught up in drama and romance . Ir relates to a lot of teenagers these days.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book. Twenty years ago, I was a teenage girl in a similar situation and the story really resonated with me. The epistolary format was fresh, the characters were well developed, the emotions were true, and the acting was superb. I listen to audio books four days a week while commuting and I put "Upstate" in my personal top five list.
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Reading this novel made me realize, not only how hard it was/ and probably still is for young people these days, but it made me more appreciative of the one I love as well. I became very emotional reading this book because it kinda forces the reader to see the real-live cruel world of love and life. This doesn't have that beautiful disney ending that everyone (including me) looks for at the end of hardship in a book. This was actuality and reality, and it made me feel like this really happened. It made me feel like this can happen to anyone (including me). I love the guy I'm with right now but I hardly get to see him. This book just made me more desperate for keeping our relationship alive and holding on to it. I recommend this book for teens and above. This book will really get a hold of you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago