This week’s diverse new releases:
There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos (Simon Pulse)
Book Description: Mark knows grief. Ever since the accident that killed his twin sister, Grace, the only time he feels at peace is when he visits the bridge on which she died. Comfort is fleeting, but it’s almost within reach when he’s standing on the wrong side of the suicide bars. Almost.
Grace’s best friend, Hanna, says she understands what he’s going through. But she doesn’t. She can’t. It’s not just the enormity of his loss. As her twin, Mark should have known Grace as well as he knows himself. Yet when he reads her journal, it’s as if he didn’t know her at all.
As a way to remember Grace, Hanna convinces Mark to complete Grace’s bucket list from her journal. Mark’s sadness, anger, and his growing feelings for Hanna threaten to overwhelm him. But Mark can’t back out. He made a promise to honor Grace—and it’s his one chance to set things right.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster)
“Lara Jean Covey writes romantic goodbye letters to boys “when I don’t want to be in love anymore,” never intending for them to see the light of day. She understandably panics when the five letters are somehow mailed out, especially because she wrote one to Josh, her older sister Margot’s nice, nerdy ex. … Han creates a realistically flawed cast, especially half-Korean Lara Jean and her sisters, who work hard to be good to one another after their mother’s death (even when they’re at one another’s throats).” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
Zebra Crossing Meg Vandermerwe (Oneworld Publications)
Book Description: Ghost. Ape. Living dead. Young Chipo has been called many names, but to her mother — Zimbabwe ’s most loyal Manchester United supporter — she had always just been Chipo, meaning gift. On the eve of the World Cup, Chipo and her brother flee to Cape Town hoping for a better life and to share in the excitement of the greatest sporting event ever to take place in Africa. But the Mother City’s infamous Long Street is a dangerous place for an illegal immigrant and albino. Soon Chipo is caught up in a get-rich-quick scheme organized by her brother and the terrifying Dr Ongani. Exploiting gamblers’ superstitions about albinism, they plan to make money and get out before rumors of looming xenophobic attacks become reality. But their scheming has devastating consequences.
I am a Person of Color. I clarify this to make it understood that I use the phrases I’m going to talk about in this post on a daily basis. I use them without thought to those who are around me understanding, and I use them because I’ve always used them. They are my default.
So what does that…
A Diverse Dozen
Looking for some YA books that just happen to have characters of color, LGBT characters, and/or disabled characters? Here’s a diverse dozen titles with something for every reader — contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, and mystery too. (Descriptions are from WorldCat.)
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac (Tu Books) — In a world that has barely survived an apocalypse that leaves it with pre-twentieth century technology, Lozen is a monster hunter for four tyrants who are holding her family hostage.
Pointe by Brandy Colbert (Putnam) — Four years after Theo’s best friend, Donovan, disappeared at age thirteen, he is found and brought home and Theo puts her health at risk as she decides whether to tell the truth about the abductor, knowing her revelation could end her life-long dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer.
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (Arthur A. Levine Books) — Seventh-grader Lewis “Shoe” Blake from the Tuscarora Reservation has a new friend, George Haddonfield from the local Air Force base, but in 1975 upstate New York there is a lot of tension and hatred between Native Americans and Whites–and Lewis is not sure that he can rely on friendship.
Fake ID by Lamar Giles (Amistad) — “An African-American teen in the Witness Protection Program moves to a new town and finds himself trying to solve a murder mystery when his first friend is found dead.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster) — Lara Jean writes love letters to all the boys she has loved and then hides them in a hatbox until one day those letters are accidentally sent.
Pantomime by Laura Lam (Strange Chemistry) — Gene, the daughter of a noble family, runs away from the decadence of court to R.H. Ragona’s circus of magic, where she meets runaway Micah, whose blood could unlock the mysteries of the world of Ellada.
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Tu Books) — In an adventure reminiscent of Homer’s Odyssey, fifteen-year-old Odilia and her four younger sisters embark on a journey to return a dead man to his family in Mexico, aided by La Llorona, but impeded by a witch, a warlock, chupacabras, and more.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Candlewick) — One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away?
Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Nancy Paulsen Books) — An eighth-grade girl with Asperger’s syndrome tries to befriend her new neighbor, facing many challenges along the way.
More Than This by Patrick Ness (Candlewick) — A boy named Seth drowns, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.
Prophecy by Ellen Oh (HarperTeen) —A demon slayer, the only female warrior in the King’s army, must battle demon soldiers, an evil shaman, and the Demon Lord to find the lost ruby of the Dragon King’s prophecy and save her kingdom.
Far From You by Tess Sharpe (Hyperion) — After Sophie Winters survives a brutal attack in which her best friend, Mina, is murdered, she sets out to find the killer. At the same time she must prove she is free of her past Oxy addiction and in no way to blame for Mina’s death.
What a great list! (And thanks for including Killer of Enemies and Summer of the Mariposas!)
There are brilliant, amazing, innovative, and groundbreaking writers of color everywhere. EVERYWHERE. ALL OVER THE PLACE. Why are they not submitting to traditional publishers and agents? IDK, maybe because traditional publishing is an industry made up of nearly entirely white folks from upper-middle-class and wealthy backgrounds who routinely reject work by writers of color as “unsalable” or because “we already have one of those” and who do not bother to publicize or get behind any of the handful—literal handful, folks, come on—of books by writers of color they do manage to publish every year, thus effectively ending those writers’ careers when their books tank. I wouldn’t submit, either. (For the record, 100% of the people who have submitted directly to Guillotine have been white.)
So how do I find writers? The Internet, obviously.
I don’t know if what I’m about to rattle on about actually does involve cognitive dissonance, because I think the “contradictions” I have in mind may not be contradictory in a true sense.
I’ve been actively, genuinely participating in the ongoing diversity dialogue for the first time, and this…
Great question and thank you!
Sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopia are not my strengths, so let me lead you to some great resources that could better answer your question.
Lee and Low has an amazing pinterest account, complete with booklists featuring stories about characters of color. They have boards for YA sci fi and fantasy featuring poc. This is invaluable.
If you don’t follow Diversity in YA on tumblr, you should. They keep excellent diverse book lists as well. I’d also recommend checking out their resource list for other blogs and websites that look specifically at diverse books over here (scroll down and it’s on the right-hand side bar).
Hope that helps!
Here are some lists:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all. [Image and summary via Goodreads]
The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3) by Julie Kagawa
Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer. Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie. In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone. [Image and summary via Goodreads]
There’s been a lot of discussion these days about YA—about girls in YA and about diversity in YA made by people who are far more eloquent and well-spoken and informed than I am, at least on those topics. But I wanted to throw my two cents in, because I’m tired of sitting back and watching…
Our editor recently got this question from a writer, who agreed that answering it on the blog would be useful:
My hero is a fifteen-year-old African American boy [in a science fiction story]. A few of my alpha readers (not all) have said that he doesn’t sound “black enough.” I…