Trailblazer by Dorothy Butler Gilliam – January 8
Dorothy Butler Gilliam documents her 50-year journey as a “dark skinned” journalist in Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America. In this touching memoir, Gilliam not only details the difficulties in strained newsrooms but also how the death of her father affected her and her storytelling. Pre-order now!
On The Come Up by Angie Thomas – February 5
Angie Thomas’ follow up to The Hate U Give is another young adult novel called, On The Come Up. In this novel, Thomas introduces us to 16-year-old Bri, the daughter of a late rap phenom who dies before he blows up. With large shoes to fill, and with her mother struggling financially, Bri has to make it. Pre-order now!
The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison – February 12
Toni Morrison doesn’t need a cosign from us, but her latest The Source of Self-Regard is a must-read. It’s a collection of essays, speeches and other meditations, such as a prayer for those who died during 9/11. Not only does Morrison comment on her own novels, but also on current social issues such as Black Lives Matter, the press and modern day feminism. Pre-order now!
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson – February 12
Inspired by real events, Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel American Spy centers on an intelligence officer during the Cold War, who’s underappreciated and overlooked at her job. Sound familiar? But when she’s asked to serve on a task force to take down Burkina Faso president Thomas Sankara, whom she secretly admires, Wilkinson takes readers down a path of danger, seduction and patriotism. Pre-order now!
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray – February 19
What happens when the stand-in matriarch of the family gets arrested, leaving the other three teenage sisters confused and dumbfounded? Readers will find out in Anissa Gray’s The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls. The Butler family goes from well-respected to disgraced in this novel, centered on family and redemption. Pre-order now!
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi – March 5
In this twist on the classic Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, novelist Helen Oyeyemi brings us Gingerbread, which centers on British student Perdita Lee. Lee and her mother Harriet are known for making gingerbread, but when Lee goes on a journey to track down her mother’s long-lost friend she realizes that this gingerbread recipe is one she can rely on. It’s a story about family, wealth, jealousy and ambition. Pre-order now!
The Engagement Game by Joi-Marie McKenzie – March 5
Long before ESSENCE senior entertainment editor Joi-Marie McKenzie became engaged, she was once a single woman, burnt out in her job and frustrated in her five-year relationship. Willing to do just about anything to get Adam to propose, McKenzie details in her hilarious memoir, which is written like a novel, how she played The Engagement Game to win her man’s proposal. But after a series of events, McKenzie discovers why she must choose herself to manifest her love dreams. Pre-order the paperback now!
The Dragonfly Sea by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor – March 12
In this odyssey, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor introduces us to Ayaana and her mother, who live on an island off the Kenyan coast. When a sailor comes into their lives, Ayaana is sent on a voyage to the Far East where she endures kidnappers and falling in love with a young Turkish aristocrat. The journey eventually leads her to falling back in love with the seas. Pre-order now!
Finding My Voice by Valerie Jarrett – April 2
No one knows the Obamas quite like their most trusted adviser, Valerie Jarrett. In Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward, Jarrett details her life from meeting a then-Michelle Robinson to later working in the White House during the Obama era. Her memoir also reflects on Obama’s historic presidency and how her own life has been changed while fighting for the rights of the underserved and overlooked. Pre-order now!
Shuri: The Search for Black Panther by Nnedi Okorafor – May 7
Yup, it’s Wakanda Forever! And thankfully Nnedi Okorafor is giving us more of Black Panther’s smart little sister with a comic dedicated to Shuri. It’s called Shuri: The Search for Black Panther and centers on the tech-genius in the fictional African country after Black Panther disappears. With the country searching for a leader, Shuri must choose between her passions and her patriotism. Pre-order now!
In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow – June 4
In West Mills tells the story of a woman, living in rural North Carolina during 1941 to 1987, who sounds like a bad bish. Not only does she live life on her own terms — drinking moonshine and enjoying men — she enjoys it. But it comes with a price: being ostracized by her small community. When she turns to a neighbor who wants to help, readers soon realize he has his own issues to deal with. Pre-order now!