Vaunda Micheaux Nelson


Radiant Vaunda Micheaux Nelson


Dutton, 7 January 2025

As school begins in 1963, Cooper Dale wrestles with what it means to “shine” for a black girl in a predominantly white community near Pittsburgh. Set against the historic backdrop of the Birmingham church bombing, the Kennedy assassination, and Beatlemania, Radiant is a finely crafted novel in verse about race, class, faith, and finding your place in a loving family and a complicated world.

Cooper’s primary concern is navigating fifth grade, where she faces both an extra-strict teacher and the bullying of Wade Carter, the only child of a well-to-do white family, whose home Cooper’s mother cleans for extra income. How can she shine when her mother works for the meanest boy in school? To make matters worse, Cooper quietly wishes she could be someone else.

It’s not all bad, though. Cooper and her beloved older sister have fallen for the Beatles, and Cooper is thrilled to have something special they can share. And what she learns about her British idols adds new complexity to Cooper’s feelings about race.

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