5 Young Adult Books Written by African-American Authors You Need to Read
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June is Pride Month. I wanted to celebrate it, sharing my favorite LGBT books. But today, I feel angry, sad, and disgusted because of the tragic events of the last days. So I decided to focus on what matters the most right now. And there's nothing more important than opening up communication about racism and support the Black Lives Matter movement. (Find out how to support here: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/)
I've put together a Young-Adult-book list comprising my favorite YA books written by African-American authors, in which the main characters struggle with issues based on race and injustice that the Black community has been suffering for many years. They are written honestly and authentically with themes of hope and fight for positive change.
The Hate U Give
Balzer + Bray, $11
Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old girl, witnesses how her unarmed best friend, is shot by a police officer. Even when she knows the truth, she is scared to speak up.
Starr soon discovers that people are willing to judge her by her skin color and that the consequences of keep silent could endanger her life and the people she loves.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement inspired The Hate U Give, however, the story is not a pamphlet about racism; it is an exciting novel with an endearing character that evolves through the decisions she makes.
The Hate U Give is also available in Spanish.
Long Way Down
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, $11
After fifteen-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, shot dead on the streets, he feels sadness and anger. His mother is heartbroken, and he needs to do what the rules dictate: no crying, no snitching, and seeking revenge. Will leaves the apartment with a gun in the waistband of his jeans. As he goes down in the elevator, he confronts people connected to his brother's past. Soon he realizes there are many things he didn't know about Shawn's life. Everything—in just sixty seconds.
Told in free-verse poems, Long Way Down is a compelling story with well-drawn characters that will linger with you.
If You Come Softly
Penguin, $8 (Kindle version)
Jeremiah is one of the few African-American students that attends Percy Academy. There, he meets Ellie, a fifteen-year-old white Jewish girl who struggles with her family's issues. They fall in love unexpectedly. Even when the world (their families included) will not understand this relationship, they want to share the happiness of their love, but suddenly it takes a devastating turn. Poetically written, this book is a must-read.
The Poet X
Another of my favorite novels written in verse. In The Poet X, Afro-Latina Xiomara Batista feels she has a lot to say. With her body changing, her absent father, and her feelings for Aman, a boy in her bio class, Xiomara thinks that her thoughts are best kept to herself. Especially with a catholic mother like hers. But when Xiomara joins the school's slam poetry club, she realizes this is the only place where she feels safe. How can she attend the poetry club without her mom finds out? And, most of all, how can she stay quiet when performing her poems is the only way to be heard?
A powerful story about a girl struggling with religion, cultural beliefs, and relationships.
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones
Wattpad Books, $11 (Expected publication: June 16, 2020)
Ethan Harper, a fifteen-year-old biracial kid, is sent to live with his uncle and aunt in a small town in Alabama in 1955. But he doesn't fit in with the locals in his new home, who discriminate against him because of his skin color. When he starts working in his uncle's melt shop, he meets Juniper Jones, a kind and open-minded white girl, and Ethan realizes not everyone will judge him based on his skin color.
Caught between two worlds: a town of white people who don't make him feel welcome, and Juniper's loyal friendship, Ethan discovers that summer that true self-acceptance is finding a place inside us where we belong.
If you want to know more about the authors, follow them on Instagram!
Angie Thomas: @angiethomas
Jason Reynolds: @jasonreynolds83
Jacqueline Woodson: @jacqueline_woodson
Elizabeth Acevedo: @acevedowrites
Daven McQueen: @daventhequeen