I write about things I love which means...
I write about books!

Brooklyn, 1978 

Cheryl was crazy excited the first time her friend Sophie brought her to Canarsie, the Brooklyn neighborhood where Sophie hung out. From what Sophie had told her, the place was like a gothic romance novel - hard-edged, gossipy, and full of sexy drama. Cheryl liked it the minute she stepped out of the subway station, into air scented with pizza and coffee. Salsa music blared from the bodega across the street. Bandanna-wearing guys stood on the corners, black, white, and Puerto Rican. And a tiny white girl in low-wasted bell-bottoms perched on an upside-down trashcan, smoking a cigarette. January wind cut through Cheryl’s neat wool coat, but the girl didn’t seem to notice the cold on her strip of bare belly.
The girl turned toward them, and Cheryl stopped walking. “Wait. Is that … is she smoking weed?”
“Or selling it,” Sophie said, not sparing the girl a glance as she hurried on. “Been arrested four times. Come on. You-Know-Who should be here.”
Since she and Sophie had met in art class, Cheryl had learned that You-Know-Who was the guy Sophie was obsessed with. He was eighteen, two years older than Sophie and Cheryl, and he lived with “this skank girl from the neighborhood,” which, Sophie said, was why he would only fool around with her, not go all the way. Cheryl couldn’t wait to meet him. She was even excited to see the cab he drove, which was where all that fooling around had taken place. CLICK HERE FOR MORE...
Dystopia, with Dancing

Here is a book review I wrote of The Summer Prince, a beautiful, truly original young adult fantasy by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Dystopia, with Dancing by Charlene Allen 
What makes a dystopia? Must evil be its driving force, or could there be a less sinister foundation, akin to a dysfunctional family gone awry? The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson’s first young adult novel, explores disturbing notions of social control in a vibrant, poetic love story. Set in 25th century Brazil, Johnson shuffles typical YA themes, including love triangles and the generation gap, with grand-scale philosophical debates. Even where the premise seems familiar, what happens is likely to surprise in this distinctive novel, filled with nuance and wonder. Keep Reading...

Doctor's Driving Cabs
My friend Amin published his first book, and I got ot interview him about it for the Brooklyn Rail. 

A.X. Amhad with Charlene Allen 

I met Amin Ahmad at a fiction-writing workshop at The New School in New York City, where he quickly rose to stardom. Filled with nervous beginners, the class was hungry for guidance and validation. Is my concept too obscure? Should my piece be in first person instead of third? Is my protagonist likeable? In the midst of all that anxiety, and a certain jockeying for position, Amin transformed our group into a rapt audience as he presented The Caretaker’s first chapter, complete with vibrant characters, palpable conflict, and a multi-layered plot already beginning to reveal itself. Our professor, always ready with a thoughtful critique, was left speechless. Keep Reading...
This book is so much fun and a great YA read. The heroine is funny, kind and just quirky enough to love. There's a nice dash of romance too. If you'd like to learn more about this novel and Sharon Flake's other books click here. If you read this or any of Sharon's other books, I would love to know what you think, find me on social media. Click here to learn more about Sharon G. Flake.