10 YA Books By Black Authors To Add To Your TBR

10 YA Books By Black Authors To Add To Your TBR

Last week I joined a Twitter chat, talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, which then evolved into talking about media by Black artists and creators. As we were discussing books, The Colour Purple by Alice Walker in particular, one member said something that stuck with me – to read books that focused on Black joy rather than simply trauma.

It got me thinking about all of the fantastic books I’ve read with Black protagonists living their lives. There are some in this list that deal with racism and police brutality but not all.

I’ve pulled together some books that I’ve enjoyed personally and that you will hopefully enjoy. If you have any more please do recommend them in the comments.

The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

Dean Atta wrote a beautiful novel in verse about a young man growing up, exploring his sexuality and learning about drag culture. A quick read but one that’s incredibly well written. You can read a full review here.

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

It’s been a long time since this came out but Nicola Yoon has a way for writing stories that involve romance that make you think about the bigger picture. The novel follows a teenager who has a rare medical condition meaning she can’t leave her home and her journey of falling in love with the boy next door. It’s adorable.

The Sun Is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon

Another romance but set over a day if I remember rightly between two young people who are trying to deal with forces outside their control. Natasha is fighting the deportation order against her family and Daniel is feeling the pressure from his parents standards. Another truly wonderful love story that will make you think about possibilities. You can read a review here.

With The Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo

The first Elizabeth Acevedo novel that I read and I devoured it as much as I wanted to devour the cooking that is described. It follows a young mother trying to juggle high school, caring for her daughter, her future dreams and career. A really wonderful book that you should not read on an empty stomach.

Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo

I was lucky enough to recieve an early copy of this book and it was absolutely brilliant. The story of two young women who lose their father in a plane crash. What they don’t know is that they have the same father, they didn’t know the other existed. This is probably one of my favourite reads of 2020 so far. Review here.

Dear Martin

Dear Martin – Nic Stone

A story of police violence and the first I read (I think). Justyce begins to question the world around him after being faced with discrimination from a police officer. He begins writing letters to Martin Luther King jr as he tries to navigate being a young black man. A really interesting read and especially poignant. You can read a review here.

Tyler Johnson Was Here

Tyler Johnson Was Here – Jay Coles

After Marvin’s twin brother is found dead after a house party he and his mother think that is bad enough, that is until a recording surfaces that changed everything. Tyler was murdered by a police officer. As his brother becomes a hashtag, he needs to pick up the pieces of a family left behind. Get your tissues for this one, review here.

Piecing Me Together – Renée Watson

I think this sentence from the blurb sums up this novel perfectly ‘Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.’

Full Disclosure – Camryn Garett

Full Disclosure is about a young woman living with HIV and trying to live her life as a normal teenager, while also trying to keep her status a secret. It covers friendship, romance has LGBT characters and is about a topic I hadn’t read about before. It an incredible book you can read a review here.

We Will Not Be Erased: Our Stories About Growing Up As People Of Colour – Gal-Dem

I’m not entirely sure that this is YA but it is a really great read, especially for those of us who have grown up with White Privilege. The people who have written for this book identify as people of colour, but I would still include it in this list. I read this back in May and it was eye opening, I’d highly recommend picking it up.

Book Review: Tyler Johnson Was Here – Jay Coles

Tyler Johnson Was Here

A party, a raid, a body. Marvin Johnson wants to be closer to his twin brother, who’s been drifting recently. After going to a party with him, Marvin’s life will change forever. Shots are fired and in the middle of a police raid Marvin loses sight of Tyler, what he doesn’t know is that he’ll never see him alive again. After searching Marvin gets the news that Tyler is dead, murdered by a police officer. How can he make sense of the world now?

This book is a masterpiece. I absolutely loved this and it deserves to be read everywhere. I had to go to Foyles in London (which I’m not complaining about it’s one of the best shops in the world) to get this and I haven’t seen it in any local stores! But why did I love it so much?

At the beginning of the novel, we meet Marvin, a high school straight A student with a bright future ahead of him. Kind, quiet and caring Marvin is worried about his twin brother, which leads to the previously mentioned party, and Tyler’s death. The novel quickly delves into the world of racial hatred and shooting of young, unarmed black men that we see again and again in the US.

This is a novel, ultimately about family and identity. The fact that Tyler is murdered at the hands of a police officer isn’t the shocking part to the family. These boys are brought up to be wary of police and that was heartbreaking. Their father is already in prison, their mother working as hard as she can to raise them. Is it any wonder that without his brother by his side Marvin feels lost and confused.

A central part of this novel is how Marvin see’s himself. Should he be continuing to try his hardest, to be respectful and separate himself from the stereotype of where he’s from when that’s all people see? Or should he just embrace it? There are parts within the novel where you just want to reach out to him, especially when he mentions his brother has ‘become a hashtag’.

I gave this novel 5 stars. It’s an important read for modern times. Incredibly, this is Jay Coles’s debut novel I can’t wait to see what he does next.

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2018!

I hate to alarm you guys but, we’re halfway through the year… It’s fine, it’s cool, I’m not freaking out, you’re freaking out. That also means it’s time for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out and I am so ready! I’ve watched and read these tags for years and finally wanted to have a go myself.

The best book you’ve read so far in 2018:

Only Child - Rhiannon Navin

This is so, so hard… probably Only Child by Rhiannon Navin, her debut was incredible. Absolutely incredible. It is a pretty tough novel about a school shooting seen through the eyes of a child who loses his brother. A novel about family and grief, through the innocent eyes of a little boy.  The writing is incredible, the story heartbreaking and it’s a book that stays with you. I can’t wait to see what Rhiannon does next. My full review is here.

Your favourite sequel of the year:

17927395

This was an AMAZING follow up to A Court of Thorns and Roses . There was excellent character development, the plot was brilliant and I wish I could say more but I don’t want to ruin the series. I just didn’t see the twists and turns coming and I loved it so much.

A new release that you haven’t read but really want to:

Tyler Johnson Was Here

Tyler Johnson Was Here has been all over Booktube and I hadn’t seen it anywhere in my local bookshops and then I went to Foyles and there it was. Not only is this a really important novel about race the cover is beautiful. I really, really hope this lives up to the hype. Full blurb here.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

The Curses - Laure Eve

I loved The Graces last year and the publication date for the second novel keeps changing so I’m really hoping we do get this in 2017, even though it says the scheduled release is currently the 6th September 2018 according to Amazon. I need this book in my hands after the end of The Graces. Need, need, need.

Your biggest disappointment:

Clean Juno Dawson

I try not to be negative but I really hated this novel. I made me so angry and irritated as someone who has and does live with a mental health condition. This was just very privileged and I don’t think it did the recovery process justice. Reading about a rich girl who gets whisked to a rehab that gives you Calvin Klein pjs just didn’t appeal to me when most people wouldn’t have that opportunity. Obviously, these are just my feelings.

Biggest surprise of the year:

Saga Vol 1 - Brian K Vaughan

Saga was something I meant to get around to, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. It was absolutely amazing and I’ve been making my way through all 8 volumes ready for volume 9 to come out in October.

Favourite new-to-you or debut author:

The Exact Opposite of Okay - Laura Steven

I definitely fangirled when Laura Steven replied to me on Twitter. I tried to get all of my friends to read this as soon as I finished. This is the kind of YA voice that we need! This looks at sexism and double standards but also manages to make you laugh the whole way through? You can read my full review here and then get on and buy it people!

Your fictional crush:

Rhysand – the ACOTAR series. Do I really need to say more?

New favourite character:

16096824

Feyre – A Court of Thorns and Roses

I think Feyre is an absolutely amazing character. I read all three of the ACOTAR books in a month and I just found her to be a great protagonist. She’s not perfect, she has her own mental battles to fight. I think she’s ace and I wish I could go into more detail as to why but I don’t want to ruin the series.

A book that made you cry:

With The End in Mind - Katheryn Mannix

With the End in Mind: Death, Dying and Wisdom in an Age of Denial by Kathryn Mannix

A book about death making me cry? Not exactly a shock. I read this for the Wellcome book prize and it was beautifully written. The kindness, compassion and intelligence of this book is nothing I’ve ever seen before and it will definitely get you talking.

A book that made you happy:

A Court of Frost and Starlight - Sarah J Maas

This book just felt like coming home. This is the novella to accompany the ACOTAR series which, I know, I’ve gone on about a lot in this blog. This is a short read with all the feels. I can’t wait for the next novel in the series!

Your favorite book-to-movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year:

I haven’t seen any book to movie adaptions this year! None that I can remember anyway…

Favorite book post you’ve done this year:

Hmmm, tough one. I actually think it’s the unpopular opinions book tag! It was good to get a few things off my chest!

The most beautiful book you’ve bought/received this year:

The Surface Breaks - Louise O'Neill

The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neil

Just look at this cover, isn’t it so, so beautiful! Even without the dust jacket, it was beautiful.

What are some books you need to read by the end of the year?

I wrote a post about the books I wanted to read in 2018 and there are only two on there I need to read to meet my goal. I’d also like to get around to the following 2018 releases:

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy – Anthology

Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig 

How to Be Famous – Caitlin Moran 

Just wanting to point out that, obviously, I didn’t come up with this tag, it has been floating around forever! If you do this tag yourself, I’d love to see your answers so link me below!