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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,632 Ratings  ·  320 Reviews
"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
Paperback, 247 pages
Published January 10th 2006 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published December 23rd 2004)
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J Beckett
Upstate: A Novel
262 pages
Author: Kalisha Buckhanon
Published: January 10, 2006

There 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
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
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 th
Taryn Pierson
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poc-author
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 complicate ...more
Josh Newhouse
May 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-13-read

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 listening

I 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
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I didn't want it to end. LOL. I kept more more letter. I really enjoyed this one!
Nia Forrester
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
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 the ...more
Damon Lee
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: advisory-books
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 ...more
May 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fiction
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 t ...more
Ana De Leon
Oct 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who have (or have had) a loved one in prison
Recommended to Ana by: No one.
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 ...more
Oct 06, 2011 is currently reading it
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 an ...more
Apr 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. A ...more
*M i t z y; :)
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ssr
Mitzi Moran
Period 14/15
Kalisha Buckhanon
# of pages
Date completed 9/28/09
Book rating-10

The character that changed the most from the beginning of the book to the end would be Natasha
In 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
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Upstate is a sole touching and heart warming book
Shavonia M.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
It was good the author did good with the setting
Niecie Jones
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
oh, I loved this book! so many feels ♡♡♡
Mar 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hirit Beyene 9th 4-01-09


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 touc
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 thi ...more
Nardsbaby Reader
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ages 11-15 (because of language)
Recommended to Ashlyn by: Mrs. Ridder
"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 se
Courtney H.
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 beli ...more
4Q 2P S
Seventeen-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
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 wa
Arian Toney
Oct 28, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jul 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Plot Summary

Antonio, 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
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Kalisha Buckhanon's novels are Solemn, Conception and Upstate. Her short stories are widely published in many online and university print literary journals. Her articles and essays appear on several popular women’s blogs and cultural websites. Her writing awards include an American Library Association ALEX Award, Friends of American Writers Award, Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, and Terry McMill ...more
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