For years, Black coming of age stories have been tough to come by, but the success of works like The Hate U Give and Children Of Blood and Bone have led to a number of titles that explore adolescence from Black perspectives.
Publishers are finally infusing the market with youthful stories that center our children at different points in their development and explore various perspectives and family dynamics. The Black Kids explored the struggles of being one of the few Black students in an affluent high school while Dear Justyce highlights how the justice system is failing Black children.
Authors are offering romances, mysteries, thrillers, and fantasies that speak to the way typical teen scenarios are experienced in the Black community. Here are nine young adult novels that tackle everything from dealing with middle school bullies to surviving your first year of cosmetology school.
Wings of Ebony – J. Elle
A Southern teen named Rue discovers her mystical ancestry when her mother is murdered causing her father’s sudden appearance. Rue returns to her father’s homeland where she learns she is more than human and is called to fulfill her destiny for the good of gods and mortals everywhere.
Roman and Jewel – Dana Davis
This modern star-crossed romance serves E. Lynn Harris-meets-Hamilton for the Shade Room Teens. When a would-be starlet turned understudy starts crushing on the production’s leading man, a viral clip creates drama on and off the stage.
One of The Good Ones – Maika Moulite, Maritza Moulite
When a young activist is killed, her sister struggles with the way her memory is co-opted by the public. This read exposes the pressure respectability politics places on marginalized people.
Nubia: Real One -L. L. McKinney, Robyn Smith
Nubia’s unique strength and undeniable loyalty doesn’t keep society from dismissing her as less than a wonder woman. Her efforts to protect others are looked at as threatening instead of honorable, leading to clumsy interactions with those around her. Her moms try to protect her from others’ judgments, but when someone threatens her bestie she decides nothing can keep her from saving the day.
Given – Nandi Taylor
A young princess fights to save her ailing father and protect her heart from a persistent suitor in this tale of love, duty, and magic.
Love Is a Revolution – Renée Watson
Watson tosses over standard teen troupes to showcase a world where the leading guy is smart, the popular clique is full of substance, and the plus-size girl gets to be the star of her own love story.
One Carefree Day – Whitney Amazeen
A teenage cosmetology student trying to manage OCD fights to hide her reliance on rituals from those in her circle and is faced with an ultimatum from her mother. As the disorder seeps into every aspect of her daily life, the boy next door offers her support and potentially more.
Becoming Muhammad Ali – James Patterson & Kwame Alexander
This novel takes a look at the legendary athlete’s life as an average kid with an extraordinary destiny. Readers will follow his life from age 12 to 17 and learn how his early experiences with bullying and racially motivated discrimination inspired him to become a champion.
Blood Like Magic – Liselle Sambury
If you’ve ever gritted your teeth at a superstar’s adopted accent you’ll love the authenticity of this book about Black witches in Canada with Caribbean roots. When a young witch seeks to carry on family tradition, she is forced to find the perfect lover- so she can sacrifice him.