Read Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon Online


"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"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....

Title : Upstate
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312332693
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 247 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Upstate Reviews

  • J Beckett
    2019-04-24 09:03

    Upstate: A Novel262 pagesAuthor: Kalisha BuckhanonPublished: January 10, 2006There are a few novels that are lyrical, filled with an indescribable level of musical magic that leaves the reader, and ultimately, the listener, wanting more. It has the ability to feed that lingering, unfulfilled, and longing hunger; a hunger unwilling to accept just 'any' flavor. I found myself searching for that flavor, searching for that music, looking for a specific orchestral novel created by the distant rhythm of bass guitars, and crashing cymbals. I wanted a symphony of simplistically complex narrative, complicated love and a universal story line that would linger in my psyche until I became so absorbed that I couldn't tell where I ended and it began. I wanted a butterfly in Harlem.Upstate, the debut novel by Kalisha Buckhanon, was a completely accidental find; a novel that literally fell from the shelf and into my lap. Perhaps this magical phenomenon was the first sign that I should give the book a sincere look.I purchased Upstate, thinking that it was, quite likely, another novel calling attention to the deleterious plight of African-American youth, filled with drugs, sex, poverty, and death, despite the glaring fact that the description read differently. I relegated this book to another addition to my collection of “come down” novels-- the ones I secretly stash in my backpack or in the archives of my Kindle, to read as cerebral relief from more complex works. Then I read Upstate’s first line:Dear Natasha,Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father?There it was. A single profoundly engaging line. The lure that snagged me, and I was dangling from Buckhanon's hook, in Buckhanon’s pond; ravenous, famished, longing to be fed more and more. The sky opened. UPSTATE! That one line was my butterfly. What I discovered (or, perhaps Kalisha Buckhanon uncovered) was magnificence in a literary format I had not experienced since the reading of Slave Narratives compiled from letters and notes by people in captivity. There was an element of captivity in this novel, an arresting premise that had the capacity to make the reader laugh, and cheer, and cry—simultaneously. Amazing was how a series of letters, between two people, could create a complete novel, a bounty of revelation full of magic and emotion. Upstate, this complex epistolary novel, exploded my senses. Little did I initially know its impact. How quickly I learned.The story covers the embattled, challenging, complicated relationship of Antonio and Natasha, and the roller-coaster ride that is their very young (sixteen and seventeen years old, respectively) and profoundly immature lives. Antonio is serving ten years in prison for the murder of his father, a roguish and chronically abusive man. During his bid, aside from periodic visits, Antonio and Natasha’s base of communication is letters written feverishly and engorged with dreams that have little to no possibility of ever coming to fruition …ever. The emotion in each letter rises and falls, unique in that the dialogue isn't really dialogue but carefully crafted monologues, a 'call and response' type endeavor that works so perfectly that it makes the reader more voyeur than reader. BRILLIANT MS. BUCKHANON!!!There is love between Natasha and Antonio and it is real, although straddling the rail of becoming unrequited and stagnant, and, as the story further develops, the responsibilities that come with this stagnantly real love prove to be far more difficult than it was capable of enduring. In prison, Antonio becomes a part of the culture, enveloped by the fantasy-filled idea of a better world and a stronger resolve when he got out while Natasha finds the hole in the proverbial fence of oppression and has ventured through it into a world bigger than both of their imaginations. The question thus becomes, who was the actual prisoner? And the answer is a resounding, both of them.Kalisha Buckhanon covers the spectrum of life's love mystery wonderfully, unfolding and revealing each layer just enough to show that there was an actual effect inside, from teenage adoration to the possibility and reality of freedom after several years in prison, to a more mature love that, although incomplete, never quieted. She lets the reader know that there are happy endings of sorts, that there is hope in what initially appeared hopeless, and avoided the common, stereotypical sorrowful physical demise of her characters. Buckhanon created, through each of their letters, another step toward resolve and often left us, the reader, wondering if the characters read and absorbed them in the same vein that we did. The answer to that is: sometimes.In the end, Natasha pens an exclamatory rant, and Antonio follows up with a letter that compliments with a more sincere finality to their extinguishing relationship. This is as close as they ever get to actual closure, and this, the reader realizes, is the beauty of Buckhanon's work; that we are absorbed by the characters, incensed by their ridiculously overwhelming need for validation and comfort, and hopeful that their worlds would not meet a catastrophic end. Equally, we are left with more questions; the last being... "Is this the real end?"There are novels that are lyrical, filled with an indescribable level of musical wonder that leaves the reader, the listener, wanting more. It feeds that lingering, unfulfilled, longing hunger; a hunger unwilling to accept just 'any' flavor. When I read the final lines, it was clear; Upstate is a lyrical love story, orchestral in its telling and Kalisha Buckhanon, who since the publishing of this novel has released a second, Conception, and has a third on the way, has undeniably proven to be a most gifted and well-versed conductor. A beautiful read, as rare as a butterfly in Harlem.

  • Chicklitgirl
    2019-05-04 04:39

    4 stars, out of 5 I rarely give books a 4 star rating so trust me, this book is something special.Upstate is the story of Natasha and Antonio.They're both 17 and in love, but then something horrible happens, and Antonio is sent to Jail.The book is written in the forms of letters. Antonio and Natasha's letters to one another, and it is beautiful.At first, from the second page actually, I thought the book was too crude for my liking, you'll see why, but nonethelss, I still read on, because even though sometimes the language used was appalling to my not-so-delicate ears, it wasnt meant in a bad way really. It was just who the charecters were.Plus the book had me gripped, and once I started it, I didnt want to stop.I really liked how open Antonio was about his feelings. He spilled his heart out in those letters, and getting in his mind like that,a boys mind, was refreashing for a change. Its not always you get to hear the guys side, and that too, a black guy, in jail, for something he might or might not have done.You could actually feel the love Antonio radiated for Natasha and his family. His frustration and emotions were wonderfully echoed in his letters and I had not trouble or confusion in reading a book written in this way.Natasha was a strong, at the begining slightly shaky, but in the end very sturdy young woman. I liked her for doing what she did, being strong and pushing foward, not many would have the courage to wrestle with what they saw around them, despair and a huge mess. But she dreamed, and was rewarded for it.One of the awesome things about Upstate was that you could see, in a very real and VERY natural way how both the characters developed and became adults.The transition from teen to adult- it was flawlessly executed. I didnt even realize their tone had changed, it was so perfectly and gradually done, and the story never got boring, even though it the major twist came at the very end.The ending about the whole love thing, was def not what I wanted it to be. I didnt like it, but I didnt dislike it, I guess I could understand why the author, wrote it like she did. It went with the book, it was honest- no sugar coating, and very REAL LIFE, if you know what I mean.But it made me cry.The book made me cry.Books rarely make me cry!So its safe to say, Upstate is a keeper.You should read this book because even though its mainly supposed to be a love story- its not your run of the mill Young Adult romance novel set in a high school where everything is sexual tension, a twist or two and then happiness.No way-, this book is very real, and very raw.This book is ABOUT the charecters, its very personal-its about their struggle in a world full of hardness and its about finding that silver lining on that coal black cloud. Its about hope.And about the strength of true love.

  • Taryn Pierson
    2019-04-30 03:50

    A fast-reading epistolary novel about two people who fall in love as teens, and what that love looks like as it changes with time and circumstance. Antonio and Natasha write letters to each other because the usual methods of communication are closed to them—Antonio is in jail, facing a possible murder charge. Assuming he is innocent and will be released, Natasha at first promises to stay by his side, but there are a lot of aspects of Antonio’s life she doesn’t know about. The truth is complicated, and Antonio isn’t sure how much of it he wants his girlfriend to know.I especially loved the language Buckhanon used. It felt totally authentic to me, like her characters were speaking directly in my ear. And then to observe the way their writing changed (in different ways for each of them) as they grew older and life took its various tolls was just beautiful. A little heartbreaking, but beautiful. Suspenseful, too, as Antonio’s fate hangs in the balance, and you wonder if these two will ever be able to be more to each other than words on a page.More book recommendations by me at

  • Josh Newhouse
    2019-04-28 06:47

    sad, frustrating listen... great audio narration... not for ms and some parts maybe too graphic for hs... you decide... characters speak in odd mixture of vulgar slang, and didactic vocabulary... an odd book... still listeningI really liked this book BUT I can not recommend it for ms or hs despite a strong message because it is excessively sexual and uses way too much language... it's a shame too... some language I could have justified but it's do pervasive that at times it feels gratuitous and the sexual content is quite graphic...shame... but an interesting read, and I want to track down Catcher in the Rye again as a side effect...

  • Lulu
    2019-04-25 07:01

    I didn't want it to end. LOL. I kept more more letter. I really enjoyed this one!

  • Nia Forrester
    2019-04-25 02:37

    **LONGER REVIEW TO COME--THIS BOOK DESERVES IT**I don't think I have the words to explain what reading this book was like for me. I'm glad I didn't read it when it was first released, because I probably wouldn't have been ready. But it is beautiful, profound, and heartbreaking. It will take a long time before I am able to even look at it without choking up. Damn, this author is good.

  • Ms. Schneeman
    2019-05-21 06:39

    Only reason I give this a 4 instead of 5 is because I wasn't quite happy with the ending. Can't really think of a better way to end it, but I was just sad I guess.

  • Ari
    2019-05-14 02:54

    These letters felt very raw. They weren't flowery or ridiculously romantic. They are about romantic longing, but so much more. They talk about books, Harlem, their home lives, life in jail. Before jail, Antonio spent a lot of his time trying to be tough and not share details of his private life with Natasha. In the letters, he finally breaks down. I thought this was a bit too convenient, but I let it slide because I wanted to learn more about Antonio's life. Natasha wasn't as interesting to me. I felt that she was almost stereotypical, but that could be more of a result of how many YA books I've read with similar main characters. She was very determined and wanted to go to college and be a lawyer, and she wasn't going to let her economic background get in her way. Which is wonderful, but I felt that I had heard it all before. Antonio's background seemed all too familiar at first, but it got deeper and more unique. Besides being about the two main characters, we also learn A LOT about both of their families, which I really liked. The parents are a presence (for better or worse) and even the siblings have stories that are told.Antonio's first letter starts with him asking if Natasha believes he kills his father. I was pleased at the fact that Natasha asks him if he did it. She doesn't blindly take his word for it. I understand wanting to see the best in someone you love, but I liked that Natasha was trying to be realistic and honest. One of the strongest parts of this novel is the language. The author writes very powerfully, you feel as if you are reading very private letters (which is against the law since it's not your mail! haha) and maybe you are intruding. At the same time, you can't put the book down because you need to know if Antonio killed his father and you need to know if Antonio and Natasha will stay together. The last letter is written in 1999 and while the letters are getting few and far between, it's evident that Antonio and Natasha still love each other. The question is if they have room in their lives for each other.Upstate is a sweet story about a not-so-sweet topic. The love story is original, emotional and very genuine. The circumstances the two main characters were born into suck and it's infuriating that they have to go through what they have to go through. They must grow up way sooner than many children. I can't say how authentic this book is in portraying prison life, I'm on the fence about that because I feel that it was a little too safe but at the same time, I've never been to prison so I wouldn't know. The author does an excellent job of creating characters that grab you and you will not forget about them right away. Perhaps one of the simplest but best parts of this book is the fact that it's about two African American teenagers who are deeply in love with each other. We don't see that very often in books or on TV (but we do in real life!) so this was a nice change. I highly recommend this book. Surprisingly not a tearjerker, but still a very moving story.

  • Hana
    2019-05-08 09:45

    I read the book "Upstate" by Kalisha Buckhanon. I randomly chose this book. I just picked it off the library shelf and the cover seem sort of appealing so I checked it out. But I'm really glad that I did. The book is about two teenagers, Antonio and Natasha, who are madly in love. But Antonio is locked up in jail, convicted of killing his father. The whole book is a series of letters between the two teenagers in the course of ten years. Throughout the book you witness the hardships they have to go though day by day. They have to face obstacles and try to make it together, given the fact that Antonio is locked up while Natasha is free, doing her own thing. Their journey throughout the decade is an amazing storing that I really enjoyed. The main conflict in this book would have to be man versus man because Natasha and Antonio have to try and cooperate together and make their relationship last. It's hard since they are not together and can't see each other on a daily basis. Also because people don't think they will make it and try to talk Natasha in to breaking up with Antonio. The theme of this book is love, as you can see between the two characters. The writing style of the author is very realistic. Throughout the book I could picture every single scene playing out in my head. I also loved the whole concept of the book being just a recollection of several letters. It's something I personally never have seen before. I highly recommend this book to others. But probably not for people who don't want to read mature content and language, since there are some in the book. All in all I really enjoyed this book. I think Buckhanon did an outstanding job and I really loved this book.

  • Jen
    2019-05-16 01:59

    Upstate is the story of Natasha and Antonio, and is told entirely through letters that they send to each other over a period of 9 years. At the start of the book they are young (16 and 17) and in love and Antonio has been accused of the murder of his father. The letters, incredibly intimate and emotional, create a surprisingly full picture of not only Natasha and Antonio’s lives, but of their family members and friends as well. I ached for them, for their broken families, but I kind of hated their enabler mothers. I rolled my eyes when Antonio wanted Natasha to pledge her unwavering allegiance from the start, to tell him that she had his back even though he wouldn’t tell her what happened. I was a little shocked to read about the things that they did together because I was sooo completely naïve at 16 and don’t EVEN want to think about my kids dating KILL ME NOW. I wanted to smack them when their words swung so easily from promises of forever love and fidelity to anger and resentment. I knew when they were making promises that they couldn’t and wouldn’t keep, but I couldn’t help but hope that they would stick. As the years pass, their voices mature and the details of their lives change and gaps between letters grow larger and larger. Natasha and Antonio grow up and away from each other, and it is heartbreaking and real, disappointing and inspiring in equal parts. This book gripped me from start to finish. I practically inhaled it and then promptly cried when it was over.

  • Damon Lee
    2019-05-11 09:54

    This book is really sad and interesting because this book is a composition of letters from a boyfriend writing to his girlfriend. In this book Antonio a young African American teenager was sent to jail for the conviction of murdering his very own father. This book’s theme is love because even tough Antonio is in a tough situation right now he still is able to live through each and every day, he’s able to do this with the help of his girlfriend Natasha who is a Hispanic teenager. They are both in love with each other, Antonio could trust her with anything and I mean anything. One example can be that in one of the letter Antonio told Natasha how important she was to him also how important education was. He didn’t realize how much it meant to him because he was being such a bad kid with his friends. In this book you will see through both Antonio and Natasha’s eyes, you will what difficulties both of them have living without each other being side by side. Antonio faces trouble after he’s been bumped up to a much worst facility. While Natasha and her mother face problems with Roy, Natasha’s mother’s boyfriend. Roy is always looking down upon them because they aren’t rich and he’s really mean towards Natasha and her mother. One example where Natasha told Antonio that Roy was yelling at her and her mother because they were thinking about getting a new place. I for one loved this book but not so happy with the ending. But if you’re a fan of slang, relationship/family problems, and letters you’ll be definitely into the book.

  • Terry
    2019-05-08 09:34

    Natasha and Antonio feel like familiar types: sixteen and seventeen years old, in love, wise-cracking. They communicate by phone (off page) and in letters, as Antonio has been arrested for the stabbing death of his father and is incarcerated. The book traces the ebb-and-flow of their relationship with honesty and believable detail, from January of 1990 to May, 1999, with the bulk of the story - 160 of 247 - during the first year of Antonio's stint "Upstate". Holding the readers attention for a ten-year development is unusual for YA titles..Buckhanon does a great job with their voices, slowly aging them to reflect experiences and education. A particularly brilliant moment comes about half way through the book, in November of 1990, when Antonio writes an especially fierce letter to his months-dead father. The ending isn't "Romeo and Juliette" but it isn't Nick Sparks either. While my students enjoy the relationship between the primary characters, I found the supporting characters to be as compelling. There is enough profanity and explicit detail to authentically represent the situation and characters.

  • Ana De Leon
    2019-05-17 09:57

    Never in my life have I read and actually relish a romantic novel, but Kalisha Bukhanon made it possible with this book. It is written in a letter format which I didn’t really like at first because I wasn’t use to the idea. Throughout the course of the book, though, I found it to be a great choice because it all tied in together (in that format). My favorite part of the book is the concept of the butterfly which is mentioned in beginning of the book and also at the end. It was hard to grasp the meaning of the butterfly but the book includes questions to guide the reader through the book which I believe is very helpful. I consider myself to be cold hearted, but to be honest when I finish this book I had a weird sensation. This book almost made me cry with the outcome of the characters’ lives. I am not sure if this is because I could partially relate the book to myself, but it was very sentimental. It would be nice to see other people's reaction to this book so i can figure out if it was just me, or if that is actually the author's purpose to make the reader feel this way. Overall i think this book was great.

  • Jasper
    2019-04-27 02:56

    I'm not extremely far into this book but I can tell a lot about the characters already. The book is about this young guy Antonio who goes to prison for murdering his father. While he's in prison he writes letters to people mostly his girlfriend Natasha. Even though Antonio is in prison from what I see they still have a good relationship, which is surprising to me. They both share their experiences his life inside prison and her life separated from him outside. Natasha seems to be loyal to him and is trying to stay connected with him and help him throughout this situation. They talk about getting married.. Will this be the case forever though? I think they won't be able to maintain their relationship for as long as they think now in the beginning because I think all this stress Antonio has and just being in prison separated from his girlfriend is going to take a toll on him and their relationship..

  • Bridget
    2019-04-26 09:37

    The beginning of this book was not impressive. By the end, though, I really enjoyed it. Kalisha Buckhanon gives a voice to young Black America of the 1990s, much like other authors have done in past decades. The cadence and rhythm of speech was genuine (although at times difficult for me, since it's not my natural speech pattern). The content was more more graphic than I was anticipating at first. By the end it was not so graphic and perhaps that's why it resonated more with me toward the end. As I have a friend in prison now, in the 2000s, and based on his experiences it sounds as if some things have changed while others have not. I would recommend this book with caution to some of my students.

  • *M i t z y; :)
    2019-05-08 05:36

    Mitzi MoranPeriod 14/15UpstateKalisha Buckhanon# of pages Date completed 9/28/09Book rating-10The character that changed the most from the beginning of the book to the end would be NatashaIn the beginning, Natasha was just focusing on Antonio & him being in jail. Then she started to realize that she had to focus on herself & her future. She started changing as soon as she was in college. I think it was a good idea that she let go of Antonio & let him go & move on. She changed so much, in a good way though.

  • Wilson
    2019-05-10 08:03

    Wow. If you have the chance, do the audio version of this because it is done phenomenally. The story starts in the early 90's with a chilling opener, "Do you believe I killed my father?", asked by the male main character, Antonio, in his first letter from jail to his girlfriend Natasha. The story is told in the form of letters exchanged between the two characters, which gives a depth of intimacy but also personalized heartache to the story... Do not miss this audio book.

  • Maegen
    2019-05-10 05:50

    Upstate is a thought-provoking, intelligent and thoroughly believable story. From start to finish, I was invested in the characters' lives and almost mesmerized by their gradual growth and maturity. Kalisha definitely has a distinct voice as a writer and a promising career.

  • AJ S.
    2019-05-13 06:51

    Upstate is a sole touching and heart warming book

  • Shavonia M.
    2019-05-10 09:58

    It was good the author did good with the setting

  • Niecie
    2019-04-21 06:35

    oh, I loved this book! so many feels ♡♡♡

  • Hirit
    2019-05-06 09:50

    Hirit Beyene 9th 4-01-09 Upstate The book I’m reviewing today is upstate by kalisha Buckhanon. It’s a fiction story. This book is about how can you show love and how could you expellant it. It is about broken heart, truth, and beauty. This book is about two teenagers. Their names are Natasha and Antonio. They loved each other. Antonio is in charged with murdering his father. He asks Natasha if she believes that he killed his own father. They start writing letters to each other. The letters touch their hearts and their love. They were expelling their love, their hope with God or pray and their anger by letters for long time. The letters are incredible. You can feel like you are in other universe and that why makes them different or special. Antonio has an anger problem and that cause of the problem. It happened to a lot of people that when they get anger they can bring a lot of problem and because of that they lose their family or their self and because we are a human Ben we make mistake like Antonio Natasha is a student and her family wants her to be an excellent student, she wants to go to college. She also had a plan. Her plans was to marry Antonio but the truth is she is not going to marry him because she know that he is in charged with killing his own father, she has written a letter because he has nobody to talk to. She loves Antonio dearly but she knows that he is not the right person for her. She wants him to know how she feels and she wants to tell him the truth. She doesn’t need him as boy friend. But she wanted to have him as friend; he was bugging her to be with him. . They have the most beautiful relationship they talk almost everyday she goes to college she have new boy friend and Antonio knows about it. He asks her about her new boy friend; she told him what kind of guy he is. They stilly remember the past times that make it more beautiful. They still love each other but it is the best way they can be? Because who knows what is Antonio going to be. He may get killed, or may be saved. They have different life. Antonio was seeing someone. He had a child from another woman. But it doesn’t work out. The some with Natasha she get marred to some else. He knows all that but he stilly wants her. She is the only one who knows the truth about him. He had told her everything about him. Antonio was walking with his dog and he saw Natasha. He talks to her and she was mad at him and she told him it is over between them. He doesn’t have to write letters. She is married and happy person that broke his heart. This book reminds me of one my family members use to be this kind of situation. Her boyfriend was ingle that some thing he did. Her plan was to wait for him. She was trying not to believe some one else and after all he tells the truth. And she did the some thing as Natasha but she is still his best friend and she try to help him in many ways. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves someone and if they want to show their love to someone then it will help them. This book is the best. I really like it different other book “treacherous love” the Diary of anonymous teenager. This book is good and fun. But I love to read upstate again and again this book is so great and I enjoy it.

  • Melanie
    2019-04-22 09:59

    I'll start with my constructive criticism: I think it's incredibly difficult to capture the young adult voice in a way that feels authentic. Many adults, despite their best efforts, can't quite nail it because they are too removed from their own adolescence or don't listen closely enough to teenagers. It's also hard because if you try to use slang, the very bedrock of adolescence, you immediately date your text and run the risk of including references or language with a short shelf life. One thing the writer did quite well was to have the characters write letters in vernacular, and that element of her story did not feel stilted or forced. However, there were a few moments in this text that felt contrived - like when the two characters at the center of the story discussed "school" or literary texts (Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, and the biggie - Salinger). While I realize that I'm likely not the target audience, I still felt like the author should have given her readers more credit and agency in drawing the parallels between Holden and Antonio. Without saying too much, I also questioned the plausibility of where Natasha ends up after high school - simply because her SES and family circumstances in Harlem would make some of the logistics of her educational trajectory incredibly challenging, even with scholarships. Granted, it was set in the mid-1990s, so college was more affordable then, but it still felt a little unrealistic from a financial perspective. What I did appreciate about this novel (in addition to Buckhanon's ability to capture her characters' voices) was the structure - it's told in epistolary form, and it was clear from Antonio's letters that the author has spent time and care in addressing the psychological battles prisoners face. Antonio's struggle was agonizing, and I felt so much empathy for him. While I don't know for certain, I suspect Buckhanon spent time interviewing or getting to know people who were serving time in jail. The back cover of the text mentions her work in a prison writing program, so I imagine this probably enabled her to understand the plight of those who serve time and exit. I think it is so important that she gives those who are disempowered a voice and enables us to look beyond any assumptions people may develop about prisoners and their "guilt". I also especially loved what she did in the last 25 pages of the book - it felt honest and yet uplifting, and that ending got everything right, hence my fourth star. If you liked Walter Dean Meyers' Monster, you should definitely read this one. Buckhanon shows great promise as a contemporary voice, and it's so vital for students from diverse backgrounds to find representations of themselves in literature. I can't wait to see what else she produces.

  • Nardsbaby Reader
    2019-05-03 08:35

    Elevating the status"Sometimes in this life some things are bigger and more important than your one life could ever be." As I looked through pages of books I don't have on Amazon it was this beautiful cover of a white butterfly on red with the word Upstate in lowercase purple letters that kept me continuously coming back to this book. The simplicity spoke to my heart. Okay so I opened this book on 2/24/05 as soon as I picked it up from Borders, and I was surprised at how it was written, but hey we know me, I love a challenge. It's Harlem, New York 1990. Antonio and Natasha are "in love" You know how it is when your heart beats so hard the very first time and you can't imagine ever being apart from that person. Well imagine that this book is written in the form of letters between these two love birds, Antonio and Natasha whose lives are being altered drastically. Over the course of nine years you experience the couple as they are trying to survive. Survive loneliness, death, love, and fear. (I dream about you every night every day...I'm so in love with you!) On the brink of escaping the possibility of a longer sentence Antonio accepts a plea for a dime for a crime that we are uncertain at times he committed. Although Antonio is in jail you go through the motions as he and Natasha hold on to their memories as they write one another daily leaning on the other. Natasha has imprisoned herself from living in order to be a stand by her guy chick. I mean really ten years isn't that long when you're only 16, is it? Well when weeks seem like years the light finally shines and now it's time that our young couple face facts... Although it maybe love the truth of the matter is that the separation is too hard! Life gets tight for Antonio. He struggles to deal with all of the hard times. You have to remember Antonio is after all still a child! Being locked on the inside in some aspects has been helpful, but it's also been a hard road. It's only now that Antonio is aware of all that he's taken for granted. As Natasha grows you see how she sets her sights on a higher education. This self proclaimed "Harlem Chick for life" travels from Paris, to Chicago (my kind of town) allowing herself a prosperous future. Although it's a major heart ache at times, it can be argued that it was in many ways a benefit. Time after time. Kalisha this was a very creative gem.

  • Ashlyn
    2019-05-08 06:04

    "All I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father?"Anthony, a young teenager of the 90's, starts out the deep and powerful novel, Upstate, by Kalisha Buckhannon. This book is a mixture of 90's culture and the passionate love of the two main characters, Anthony and Natasha. Anthony is accused of the murder of his father. Antonio, formally known as Anthony, is put into a juvenile delinquents center where he is not supposed to have any communication to the outer world. Luckily, a security guard helps Anthony to send letters to his girlfriend, Natasha. Natasha, feels lonely without Anthony because she has to deal with her mom and her new step dad, without the love and care of Anthony. Their only communication, is through the letters. I connected this partly with Monster. Because in Monster, Steve (the main character) is trying to prove himself innocent just as Anthony is trying to prove himself innocent. In both books they give more and more each chapter to how the real story went. It also connected me with the whole world. Police never give a second thought to who they are throwing in jail. Even when some may be single parents, or in Antony and Natasha's case, maybe they have a loved one that desperately needs them. The genre of this book is probably realistic fiction because all of these events in the story could happen. And probably already has. I really liked this book because it really opens your eyes to the world and how many things haven't changed much in this part of life. I read this book, i had many questions: Is he truly innocent? What happened for Anthony to be accused of being a suspect? Will they survive without each other for however long he has to be in jail?. All these questions provoked feelings. I realized that love has no boundaries. Whether two people are standing right next to each other or if they are all the way across the world, love doesn't know of distance. If you are truly in love, you will find a way to be with each other. Even if that means just talking on the phone. I feel that even if Anthony doesn't get out of jail, Natasha will still love him unconditionatley. And one day they will be together. This book is perfect for people who underestimate love and its strength. A read that will touch your heart and open your eyes to a different sight on love.

  • Courtney H.
    2019-04-21 07:53

    I loved this novel. I bought it months ago, unsure of what my expectations were. Epistolary books are so hard to nail. It's an experiment that is often more interesting in theory than in execution. And Buckhanon gave herself an additional challenge: her letters were between two teenagers, Natasha and Antonio, who are separated when Antonio is arrested and sent to prison for murdering his abusive father. Not only does she need to convey a story believably through letters, but they need to be believably in the voice of two young kids (15 and 16 when the novel starts). Buckhanon succeeds entirely. The voices are wholly real: they sound like kids, they write and act like kids--and yet everything that she needs to convey, gets conveyed: the plot, the emotions, the psychology, the meat of their romance. It's an arresting novel. And one full of compassion for both characters, who are flawed and immature (at the start--she matures them gracefully, if painfully, throughout the years of the novel) as teenagers should be, particularly teenagers who are trapped in the shared tragedy of Antonio's imprisonment. She is good at believably sharing information. Nothing is hamfisted, and when things are revealed, they are revealed with care and grace. You never get the sense that she is holding back details for shock value. Everything flows naturally through the letters. You grow to love these characters, and you grow to love the characters around them, particularly Antonio and Natasha's mothers, and Antonio's brothers. It's quite a feat, too, because they don't get much page time. It's an honest look at a hateful, ugly justice system that railroaded a child, that railroaded a whole family. But though she pulled no punches about what prison was like for Antonio, mental and emotionally, she also refused to victimize him. The novel settles in the pit of your stomach; it leaves you quiet afterwards, hopeful for these characters, sad for lost time, for futures pushed off the track they might have otherwise been on. It's a lovely book, written by an outstanding author. Also--be prepared to give up whatever plans you had after you start reading it. It's going to be hard to put down.

  • Melissa
    2019-05-18 07:46

    4Q 2P SSeventeen-year-old Antonio stands accused of a shocking crime, murdering his own father. Antonio had been rebellious at school, did drugs, and so forth; but murder didn’t seem to fit his profile. At trial the family secrets of abuse come to light, but Antonio is still convicted of murder and sent to prison. The novel is told entirely through the letters of correspondence between Antonio and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend Natasha. The letters span a total of nine years, providing insight into their unique relationship and contrasting lives. Antonio shares his struggle of survival in prison; not only the physical struggle, but the emotional struggle as well. Natasha helps him to stay strong, and he begins to turn his life around. He partakes in tutoring and works on obtaining his GED, and is able to hold a job within the confines of prison. On the outside, Natasha struggles to be there, as she had promised, for her boyfriend and eventual fiancé. She wants a better life for herself though, and begins applying herself at school. Natasha realizes her potential on an educational exchange to Paris; and through the years, graduates from college and goes on to law school. Young love is strong, but will it be able to overcome such extreme obstacles? No matter what the outcome, each is a stronger person because of their relationship and what they have endured. Developmentally, it is a unique perspective on young relationships (love, family, and friends) which is a central theme in young adult lives. I would be careful in promoting the book since it does contain some adult language and violence, and sexual content. It would be a good read for individuals starting to “go down the wrong path”, as it allows the reader to experience prison and realize that their actions have consequences.

  • Devon
    2019-05-11 02:56

    Have you ever read a book that was so good it left you speechless? Well, if not I urge you to pick up this outstanding debut novel from Kalisha Buckhanon. 'UPSTATE' is told in a series of correspondence between sixteen year-old Natasha and seventeen year-old Antonio, young lovers who are torn apart when Antonio goes to jail for the murder of his father. Their letters span a decade in which time, while they seem to grow worlds apart no love is ever lost between these two soul mates.I loved the way that the language in the letters between Natasha and Antonio progressed over the years which told a story in and of itself. I also very much admired the fact that Kalisha Buckhanon didn't leave Natasha stagnant while Antonio was locked up, that she allowed her to grow, evolve and literally become the best person that she could. I also admired the fact that Antonio attempted to do the same from prison. Whether his motivating force was Natasha or just for his own personal betterment he knew the kind of man he wanted to be when he got out of prison and took the necessary steps to become that man.When I closed this book on Antonio's final letter to Natasha I cried, not a soft whimper, but actually cried because my heart ached for these two people and for that I must give credit to Ms. Buckhanon for creating such realistic characters that one can completely relate to. However, as much as my heart broke for Natasha and Antonio I was also uplifted to see what intelligent and mature adults they turned out to be. While life may not always turn out the way we expect, that doesn't mean we don't get our happy ending. I cannot reccomend this book enough and if I could give it more than five stars I truly would.

  • Arian Toney
    2019-04-30 09:53

    the book upstate is about a young couple being seperated by arrested and conviction. natasha riley and micheal antonio lawrence II (or antonio for short)live in harlem, new york and they are faced with a great problem. antonio is arrested for the murder of his father and put on trail. instead of pleading innocent and risking his freedom, he decides to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and is sentenced to 10 years in jail with a chance of parol. this conflict limited the two's relationship and eventhough they promised to wait on each other, it eventually led to the downfall of their deep bond together. they couple broke up while antonio was still incarcerated but that didnt stop them from carrying out thier lives. they stilled continued to write each other and inform each other on the goals they've acheived. the conflict was never really fully resolved because antonio never told natasha about what really happened the day of his father's murder. in the last few pages of the book he explained how he didnt really kill his father and that his oldest little brother acutally stabbed him to death. he couldnt let his young brother take the blame for it so he decided to confese to the crime. i really like the way it ended because it keeps the reader in suspence through out the whole book with out leading them on too far or leaving the hanging with unanswered questions. this book is nothing like i have read before but it is something i've heard of happening in real life. this book was pretty good and i would recommend it if your looking for some good drama.

  • Brooke
    2019-05-18 05:44

    Plot SummaryAntonio, a seventeen-year-old, African American teen, and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend Natasha write letters to one another while Antonio is behind bars for the death of his father. Does Natasha believe he is innocent? Will she stay with him forever? How many years will he have to serve? Will their love survive his time in there? The letters between them, reveal stories about their friends and families, their communities, and their past, while also telling the story of a gripping present, and how, with each letter they seem to grow apart, but also to grow closer, as time goes by. Additionally, the truth about what really happened on the day Antonio’s father died, is eventually revealed, as is a new side of Antonio’s character.Critical AnalysisThe letters are heartfelt, beautiful, sad, real. The story is heartbreaking yet also uplifting, with time showing how two people can change, yet remain true to themselves. Buckhanon captures the spirit of the times, the spirit of young love – the idealism, and the pain. While set in prison, prison life, freedom, and regret are not central themes (although there are elements of all) and this is refreshing. The language flows, as does the passing of time, and the letters these two write one another act as a magical setting of their own, a vacuum of emotion.Themes/Issues/TagsPrison, First Love, Loyalty, Family Ties, New York, Harlem, Growing Older and Growing Apart