Friday 28 August 2020

From My TBR: 15 Young Adult and Middle Grade Books By Black Authors


(Warning: this post references racism and police brutality)

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'From My TBR: 15 Young Adult and Middle Grade Books By Black Authors' against a background of the page-side of closed books, lined-up

There are three important reasons for me writing this post:

1. Black Lives still Matter.

2. It's always a good time to highlight diverse books.

and 3. There are so many amazing Black creators out there, who don't always get the recognition they deserve.

So here's a small selection of some of the Young Adult (YA) and Middle Grade (MG) books on my TBR list that were written by Black authors.

For those of you who don't know the book-blog lingo - a TBR is a 'to-be-read' list. Mine is immortal and cannot be stopped. Send help.

For those of you who are British like me, and/or haven't heard the book blogging term, Middle Grade books are those aimed at (roughly) ages 8-12, or 8-14, depending who you ask.

(Quick disclaimer: obviously, I haven't read these books, just their synopses, so I don't know what they're like in terms of content, quality, etc.)

I hope you find something to add to your own TBR, and remember to support Black authors, and other Black creators.

There're so many talented Black authors out there who deserve our attention!

Here we go, then, dearest nerdlets:

'Black Brother, Black Brother' book cover with dark-skinned brother and light-skinned brother standing back-to-back 'Bayou Magic' with girl stood in a night-time bayou on cover 'Genesis Begins Again' book cover with dark-skinned Black girl. There are make-up swatches which are for lighter skin-tones than hers.

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This one looks really interesting - a story about two brothers as they navigate middle school in the US. But while one brother is dark-skinned (and known as the 'Black brother'), the other is very light-skinned, and white-passing.

Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Set in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, this MG novel promises mermaids and magic. I'm not normally much of one for mermaids, but something about this one made me want to put it on my TBR.

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D Williams

13-year-old Genesis has a list of 96 things she hates about herself 💔. 

One of those things is her skin colour, which even her family makes fun of, because her skin-tone is so dark.

When Genesis reaches bad thing #100, will she keep making this list? Or is it time for a fresh start?

'You Should See Me In A Crown' with a happy Black girl with natural hair, with a doodled crown, on the cover 'Felix Ever After' cover with illustrated Black boy in a tank top with flowers in his hair 'The Black Flamingo' book cover with an illustrated Black boy wearing a pink feather boa

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

Contemporary YA about a young Black girl named Liz, who's trying to be crowned prom queen - but because it comes with a college scholarship. And she wants that scholarship.

Liz is also Queer, and there's an F/F romantic aspect.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

This YA contemporary is one that's been all over the bookish Interwebs (or at least the pro-Diversity and/or Queer parts of it.)

Dealing with blackmail over his dead-name (the name a Trans person is assigned at birth,) leads Felix to becoming involved in a catfish-scenario quasi-love-triangle.

More important, though, is Felix coming to terms with himself - Black, Queer, and Transgender, sometimes Felix feels like he's too marginalised to ever find his happy-ever-after.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Another book that deals with coming to terms with identity, The Black Flamingo is a YA novel-in-verse about Michael, a biracial British boy, entering the Drag world under the name of The Black Flamingo.

'Watch Us Rise' book cover with a Black girl and a White girl wearing feminist T-shirts 'Some Places More Than Others' book cover with a Black girl walking down a street 'SLAY' book cover with a Black girl with natural hair and an artsy pixel effect

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan

This one looks super awesome!

This is a YA contemporary about two girls named Jasmine and Chelsea, who start an online feminist Women's Rights Club, and end up going viral.

Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson

An MG novel by Renée Watson, this book follows Amara as she finally visits her father's family in Harlem, and ends up learning that the history and the reality of both family and place are more complicated than she thought.

Slay by Brittney Morris

Student by day, but secretly one of the world's biggest game developers by night, Kiera Johnson is living a double-life. 

But, when the world of SLAY starts to gather attention in the real world, and problems like racism start to rear their heads, things are gonna get messy.

YA contemporary.

'On the Come Up' with a Black girl rapping into a microphone, raising her fist in the air 'Tyler Johnson Was Here' book cover with artsy flowers everywhere 'Monday's Not Coming' written as an outline around a crouching Black girl on the book cover, facing out towards the reader

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas' second YA novel (her debut being the awesome The Hate U Give (THUG)) On the Come Up is about Bri - a 16-year-old with dreams of making it as a rapper, but the struggles of poverty to contend with.

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

This YA novel follows the fallout of tragedy for Marvin Johnson, whose twin brother, Tyler, is killed by a police officer at a party.

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Monday Charles is missing, and only best friend Claudia seems to care. YA contemporary mystery.

'Children of Blood and Bone' book cpover showing the top half of a Black African person's face, with white flowing hair 'Akata Witch' book cover with Black Albino African girl 'The Curious Tale of the Lady Cariboo' book cover with a light-skinned Black woman dressed in European-like historical clothing

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This African YA fantasy centres on Zélie Adebola as she tries to bring magic - outlawed under a ruthless king - back to her land of Orïsha.

I know a lot of my fellow bloggers love this one! 😊

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

This is a Middle Grade/Young Adult crossover fantasy series about an albino Nigerian-American girl named Sunny, who finds herself drawn into the world of the Leopard People, and trying to track down a dangerous kidnapper.

The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson

Based on a real story from 19th Century Britain, this historical YA is about a distressed and traumatised Black girl, who leaves her troubled life behind, convincing an upper-class family that she is an 'exotic' lost princess from a faraway land.

There is a petition to get justice for Jacob Blake here.

There's a petition here to get justice for Breonna Taylor.

This petition is to free Willie Simmons, who has served over 38 YEARS in prison for stealing $9.

There are many other petitions and causes to support.

Have you read any of these books?

How many are on your TBR?

Any other YA/MG by Black authors to recommend?

Talk to me! 😊💬

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  1. Yay, I love this list! I actually read three of these books THIS WEEK (Slay, Felix Ever After, and You Should See Me in a Crown) and enjoyed them all -- it's great to see such a vibrant field of Black YA authors. I didn't have anything like this variety when I was an actual teen. :P

    1. Thank you! And wow, glad you liked them! :) I have no idea when I'll actually get round to reading these (b/c immortal TBR!) but they look awesome! :)

  2. I've read a few of the books on this list! Felix Ever After, I cannot say enough positive things about. It taught me so much. The writing was stunning, the characters were amazing. I could relate to the characters a lot as well. Just incredible.

    I also really enjoyed Slay! I just finished it recently, and it's a very unique book. I don't know much about gaming but I felt like the book made a big enough impact that it wasn't a bother. It was shocking and thrilling, and also talked about race and racism in ways I have not experienced in a book before.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed them! Loads of people love Felix Ever After, but I'd only read one review (that I remember, anyway,) of Slay and it was... an *odd* review, by a White reviewer, which I didn't want to let put me off - so I'm glad to hear some positive things about it! :)

  3. Thanks for highlighting these! Felix Ever After and The Black Flamingo are on my must-read list. I’ll probably have to save up money and buy them because the library waitlists are massive.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Our libraries still aren't open properly, if they even get them to begin with, tbh. Still, I'll get round to them eventually, I'm sure! (I leave stuff on my TBR for years, and then *pounce* if I see them at the library/at an affordable price/on The Bestie's shelves so I can borrow it!)

  4. The Black Flamingo has been on hold for a while now. I can't wait to read it!


Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!