In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., I wanted to take a moment to spotlight some of the best young adult fiction by Black authors I’ve read in the last year. I’m thrilled to say that — unlike during my childhood — there are so many to choose from that there’s no way I can list them all here, so I’ll just start with a few of my favorites.
TIFFANY SLY LIVES HERE NOW
At the top of my list is TIFFANY SLY LIVES HERE NOW by Dana L. Davis. This lovely book follows a young woman whose mother succumbs to cancer and she is sent to live with the father she’s never met. As if the transition isn’t hard enough, another man steps into her life and insists that he’s her father! Well, that’s awkward! Yes…but it’s soooo good!
This was a book I couldn’t put down. I loved the family relationships that were built in this story, most especially the love between Tiffany and her stepmother. Nobody can take the place of your mom, but Tiffany’s stepmom was exactly what I’d hope my kids would experience should I die prematurely and my husband remarry.
Filled with wonderful characters, I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction.
Written by Nic Stone, DEAR MARTIN is a heartbreaking and thought-provoking novel about an African American teen who, struggling to understand the world around him, sits down and pours out his thoughts in a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr.
DEAR MARTIN was a novel I actually listened to on audio rather than reading, and I think listening to the narration made the stronger even more moving. It examines the questions of “white privilege” and — without “preaching” — causes the reader to really examine himself. What is white privilege? Do I have it? Is it a real thing? I have to admit that, as a privileged white woman, there were many cringe-worthy moments for me as I examined myself and wondered how often I’d completely missed the point.
Maybe one of the best books I read in 2018, I would strongly recommend it to teens everywhere, but there’s a lot to be learned through this novel for adults, too. Definitely worthy of adding to your bookshelves!
THE HATE YOU GIVE
You’ve seen the movie and you likely know the story by now, but that’s no reason to skip the book. Beautifully written by Angie Thomas, THE HATE YOU GIVE comes in the wake of the Black Lives Matters movement and forces the reader to walk around in the shoes of a young African American teen who witnesses the unprovoked murder of friend by a police officer.
I’m not going to lie. THE HATE YOU GIVE can be a very hard read because — like DEAR MARTIN — it forces the reader to examine the face of prejudice and ask ourselves whether we inadvertently harbor preconceived notions of people different from ourselves. This is a book that will likely stay with us for many years to come, and will and should certainly pave the way for others like it. Keep an eye on Angie Thomas: she’s going to do great things.
COMING IN 2019
Three titles I haven’t read yet but am crazy-excited about are from my fellow Novel19s authors on Twitter, and you must check them out!
First is FOR BLACK GIRLS LIKE ME by Mariama J. Lockington (coming in July 2019) about a black girl adopted by a white family and the many feelings of “differentness” that can come with not looking like the other members of your family.
Maybe my favorite explanation of what this book is all about comes from the publisher’s synopsis, which reads:
For Black Girls Like Me is for anyone who has ever asked themselves: How do you figure out where you are going if you don’t know where you came from?
Next on my list is from a sister-duo writing team, Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, DEAR HAITI, LOVE ALAINE. First of all, the cover is absolutely stunning! I’d pick this book up to read based only on the cover and knowing nothing about that book itself. That’s the cool thing about a great cover! From the synopsis, it looks like the story of a young girl from Miami who gets suspended from school and promptly shipped off to live in her family’s homeland of Haiti for the first time. In the process, she uncovers long-held family secrets. If that’s not enough information to pull you in, then you need to examine your sense of adventure! Haha! This title will release on September 3rd, and I already have it on my “to order” list! You should, too!
Finally, I always like to save the best for last. The title I’m most excited about is Justin A. Reynolds’s OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS. Releasing in March, this book is sitting right beside me begging to be read…which is driving me nuts because I’m dying to read it but have to finish some other projects first! UGH!
Author Angie Thomas calls OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS “One of the best love stories I’ve ever read.” From the synopsis, it’s the story about a young couple who meet and fall in love…but their happily ever after comes to an abrupt halt when one of them dies. But, when that should end their story entirely, it looks like it’s all just beginning. I can’t tell if this book involves time travel, or just a tiptoe through time in the memory of the main character; but I can tell you that I’m dying to read it! And I will soon…so watch this space for my review coming in time for the book’s release!