It’s been quite a few days since I’ve last posted here, which is disappointing me. (yes, disappointing me– the same person who made the decision to procrastinate on my blog posts.)
The last post I wrote was a quite angry rant dedicated to any of my lovely “All Lives Matter” readers
who I hope I pissed off.
This time, though, I want to write something a little bit more actionable beyond just thoughts (although thoughts are incredibly powerful). That’s why I wanted to share five amazing books by Black authors that I’ve read and loved.
In these troubling times, it’s crucial that we support Black-owned businesses and, as a part of the bookish community, I want to use my
small platform to raise awareness of these phenomenal reads. Also, almost all of these books written by Black women authors, and the only non-woman author is nonbinary.
Before I get into these recommendations, I wanted to add that I am not a #ownvoices reviewer when it comes to books by Black authors. Please support Black book-content creators and take their word when it comes to accurate/harmful representation in books! However, as far as I know, most of these books are well-liked and do not have any “controversies” regarding representation. Feel free to correct me so I can add a disclaimer in my post!
1. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
I highly recommend The Hate U Give- it’s on an extremely important and relevant topic: police brutality, and I honestly love every bit of this book to pieces.
Our main character, Starr, has a tentative balance between her life in a poor, mostly Black neighborhood, and her school: a majority-white suburban prep academy.
But when her childhood best friend, Khalil, is shot by a police officer, Starr is the only one to witness it, and she realizes the extent that people go to slander Khalil, to the point where they criminalize and victim-blame him for his own death.
THUG is about a Black girl in a world of white men standing up against police brutality- and it could never be more relevant. I think I’m overdue to give it a reread- after all, it was one of the first books by a Black author I read and I’ve fallen in love with each of Angie Thomas’s books since then.
I’d also like to take the time to mention that Angie Thomas’s other book, On The Come Up, is positively amazing and I think enjoyed it even more than THUG if that’s even possible. I didn’t add it to the list because it’s by the same author, but I also definitely recommend it!
2. “With The Fire On High” by Elizabeth Acevedo
This book was the first audiobook I listened to and it was actually narrated by the author herself! It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend reading this book through an audiobook format itself.
Aside from that, WTFOH touched on several important topics such as teen pregnancy (I thought it was revolutionary to portray it three years after Emoni actually got pregnant, instead of while/right after the pregnancy), the intersections of racial identity (Emoni discusses her identity as Afro-Latinx several times), and pursuing what you’re passionate about. Despite covering several topics, the writing flowed really well and tied together every part of the story, and every one of the characters touched my heart (I also liked that although Emoni and Malachi are an awesome couple, their relationship didn’t upstage anything else).
well, maybe except for Emoni’s douchebag of an ex-boyfriend. he sucked.
Plus, WTFOH had a central theme of food, something that Emoni, our MC, is extremely passionate about. That unique aspect alone made me fall for the story and I absolutely adored this novel in its entirety! So I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a wholesome contemporary about a Black girl falling in love and pursuing her dreams while raising a child.
(also, isn’t the cover the most gorgeous thing you’ve seen?!)
3. “This Side Of Home” by Renée Watson
This Side Of Home by Renée Watson is definitely one of the underrated YA novels featuring Black girls that I’ve read or even heard of in the bookish community. My Goodreads shows that only three of my friends have even marked this as to-read and no one that I follow has read this book, which is a shame.
I don’t remember too much from this because I read it nearly a year ago, but it has one of my favorite tropes: twin relationships (I swear, twin relationships have so much potential yet they are always overlooked. Not in this book, though!), and it tackles the topic of gentrification and erasure of Black culture which I feel like isn’t talked about enough. Seriously, I can only name one other book that I’ve read which focuses on gentrification.
This Side Of Home presents a unique view on “whitewashing” and the “improvement” of traditionally Black neighborhoods that might seem all nice on the outside but actually are much more complicated and end up destroying many Black people’s livelihoods.
Basically, just read the book. Renée does a much better job of explaining it than I ever could!
4. “Felix Ever After” by Kacen Callender
At the time of writing this post, I just finished Felix Ever After and it left me with a lot of emotions. I was recommended it by Faith, and their #OwnVoices review was incredibly well-written (go check it out right now!). I’m so glad that I decided to pick this book up.
Felix Ever After tackles questioning your identity and the intersections of identity in an extremely thorough yet not info-dumping mannerism, which I really, really appreciated. The questioning rep and the constantly challenged homophobia and transphobia are actually the best in any book I’ve ever read.
Another aspect I loved about this book was the friendships. Felix and Ezra’s friendship was so pure and I really enjoyed that especially at the beginning of the book. Leah, who becomes a prominent character more in the middle of the book, ended up claiming my heart with her fierce supportiveness of Felix and her willingness to drop any friendships with transphobic people at the blink of an eye.
As a cis non-Black girl, I do not have most of the marginalized identities that Felix does, but I really appreciated the inclusion of Felix questioning his identity even after he came out. Because coming out is messy, and as someone who has questioned my sexual orientation, it means a lot to see that questioning is okay.
In conclusion, I recommend this book to everyone! Especially Black, trans, queer, and/or questioning youth.
5. “Children Of Blood And Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi
Children Of Blood And Bone is definitely one of the hugely hyped books, and if you read it, you will definitely understand why. It’s probably one of the only African-inspired fantasies, or at least the only one which achieved a huge level of success.
I also cannot remember everything from this book (sorry! I read it last year) but I will say that at the time, I LOVED this book. One of the strong parts was definitely the characters- Amari is basically everyone’s favorites (well, of course), and Zélie, although not as amazing as Amari, was a well-thought-through character, too.
However, my personal favorite thing in this entire book was the worldbuilding. Orïsha is inspired by West African lore
sign me the heck up, and I really appreciated the types of magic and generally fantastical tidbits that were sprinkled into the book.
I would like to add a disclaimer: you will end up shipping Zélie and Amari. Sadly, I do not think that we will get that ship, so be warned- Inan is fine but Zélie and Amari really should be together.
This is the only fantasy (or non-contemporary, even) on this list, which is… kind of disappointing to me, but I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did!
I hope I convinced you to check out some of these books! Before you click away, HERE is an extremely comprehensive list of in-depth resources that you can use and sites that you can donate/sign/share for the Black Lives Movement. More information for donations can be found here, at the BLM carrd.
If you are going to protest, stay safe and be badass! ❤
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What other books by Black authors have you enjoyed?