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Great Reads in YA Fiction by African American Authors

These must reads by African American authors cover many genres, topics and styles in YA fiction.

All the things we never knew by Liara Tamani

"Carli and Rex have an immediate connection, an understanding that must mean first love, but family secrets, disappointments--and basketball, which holds center stage in both their lives--all create complications"--

Cinderella is dead by Kalynn Bayron

"Queer black girls team up to overthrow the patriarchy in the former kingdom of Cinderella"--

The voting booth by Brandy Colbert

The first year they are eligible to vote, Marva and Duke meet at their polling place and, over the course of one crazy day, fall in love.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raised in isolation, Tarisai yearns for the closeness she could have as one of the Crown Prince's Council of 11, but her mother, The Lady, has magically compelled Tarisai to kill the Crown Prince.

Now that I've found you by Kristina Forest

"Following in the footsteps of her überfamous grandma, eighteen-year-old Evie Jones is poised to be Hollywood's next big star. That is until a close friend's betrayal leads to her being blacklisted . . . Fortunately, Evie knows just the thing to save her floundering career: a public appearance with America's most beloved actress--her grandma Gigi, aka the Evelyn Conaway. The only problem? Gigi is a recluse who's been out of the limelight for almost twenty years. Days before Evie plans to present her grandma with an honorary award in front of Hollywood's elite, Gigi does the unthinkable: she disappears. With time running out and her comeback on the line, Evie reluctantly enlists the help of the last person to see Gigi before she vanished: Milo Williams, a cute musician Evie isn't sure she can trust. As Evie and Milo conduct a wild manhunt across New York City, romance and adventure abound while Evie makes some surprising discoveries about her grandma--and herself."--

The black kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Los Angeles, 1992. Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer. Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a Black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the Black kids. As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model Black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow Black kid, LaShawn Johnson. With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

Kingdom of souls by Rena Barron

Arrah, whose ancestral witch doctor powers have yet to manifest, finds herself growing increasingly desperate when children throughout the kingdom begin to disappear, so in order to find the culprit, she sacrifices years of her life for scraps of magic.

Charming as a verb by Ben Philippe

"Henri "Halti" Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University. There is only one person who seems immune to Henri's charms: his "intense" classmate and neighbor CorinneTroy. When she uncovers Henri's less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself. Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for..."--

The summer of everything : a novel by Julian Winters

An avid comic book geek, Wes excels at two things: slacking off and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ‘90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren't helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local indie bookstore, is threatened when a coffeeshop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his family won't stop pestering him about picking a college major. When all three problems converge, Wes must face with the one thing he's been avoiding-adulthood

Grown : a novel by Tiffany D Jackson

"When legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots Enchanted Jones at an audition, her dreams of being a famous singer take flight. Until Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night. Who killed Korey Fields? Before there was a dead body, Enchanted's dreams had turned into a nightmare. Because behind Korey's charm and star power was a controlling dark side. Now he's dead, the police are at the door, and all signs point to Enchanted"--

Smash it! by Francina Simone

Refreshingly authentic and bold... Don't miss this smashing #ownvoices novel from Francina Simone! Filled with heart, humor and a heroine to root for, Smash It! is a perfect read for fans of Julie Murphy, Ibi Zoboi and Ashley Poston. Olivia "Liv" James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does... After Liv shows up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts-why, God, why?-she decides to set aside her wack AF ways. She makes a list-a F*ck-It list. 1. Be bold-do the thing that scares me. 2. Learn to take a compliment. 3. Stand out instead of back. She kicks it off by trying out for the school musical, saying yes to a date and making new friends. Life is great when you stop punking yourself! However, with change comes a lot of missteps, and being bold means following her heart. So what happens when Liv's heart is interested in three different guys-and two of them are her best friends? What is she supposed to do when she gets dumped by a guy she's not even dating? How does one Smash It! after the humiliation of being friend-zoned? In Liv's own words, "F*ck it. What's the worst that can happen?" A lot, apparently

Every body looking by Candice Iloh

A mixed-heritage dancer's coming of age within the African diaspora is shaped by abuse at the hands of a cousin, her mother's descent into addiction, and her father's efforts to create a Nigerian-inspired home in America.

Daughters of jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron

In the Jim Crow South, white supremacy reigns and tensions are high. But Evalene Deschamps has other things to worry about. She has two little sisters to look after, an overworked single mother, and a longtime crush who is finally making a move. On top of all that, Evvie's magic abilities are growing stronger by the day. Her family calls it jubilation--a gift passed down from generations of black women since the time of slavery. And as Evvie's talents waken, something dark comes loose and threatens to resurface...AND when the demons of Evvie's past finally shake free, she must embrace her mighty lineage, and summon the power that lies within her.--

War girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

In 2172, when much of the world is unlivable, sisters Onyii and Ify dream of escaping war-torn Nigeria and finding a better future together but are, instead, torn apart.

Let me hear a rhyme by Tiffany D Jackson

After their friend Steph is murdered, Quadir, Jarrell, and Steph's sister Jasmine promote his music under a new rap name, the Architect, but when his demo catches a music label rep's attention, the trio must prove his talent from beyond the grave.

American street by Ibi Aanu Zoboi

When Fabiola's mother is detained upon their arrival to the United States, Fabiola must navigate her loud American cousins, the grittiness of Detroit's west side, a new school, and a surprising romance all on her own

The hate u give by Angie Thomas

After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

All American boys by Jason Reynolds

When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him.

Tyler Johnson was here by Jay Coles

"When Marvin Johnson's twin brother, Tyler, is shot and killed by a police officer, Marvin must fight injustice to learn the true meaning of freedom"--

Slay by Brittney Morris

An honors student at Jefferson Academy, seventeen-year-old Keira enjoys developing and playing Slay, a secret, multiplayer online role-playing game celebrating black culture, until the two worlds collide.

Blended by Sharon M Draper

Piano-prodigy Isabella, eleven, whose black father and white mother struggle to share custody, never feels whole, especially as racial tensions affect her school, her parents both become engaged, and she and her stepbrother are stopped by police.

Light it up by Kekla Magoon

Told from multiple viewpoints, Shae Tatum, an unarmed, thirteen-year-old black girl, is shot by a white police officer, throwing their community into upheaval and making it a target of demonstrators.

Piecing me together by Renée Watson

Tired of being singled out at her mostly-white private school as someone who needs support, high school junior Jade would rather participate in the school's amazing Study Abroad program than join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls.

Clean getaway by Nic Stone

An 11-year-old boy confronts the realities of race relations, past and present, and the mysterious agenda of his unconventional grandmother during an unplanned spring break road trip through the once-segregated American South

Dread nation by Justina Ireland

When families go missing in Baltimore County, Jane McKeene, who is studying to become an Attendant, finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy that has her fighting for her life against powerful enemies.

Children of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.

The crossover by Kwame Alexander

Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.

The revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

Sixteen-year-old Dove "Birdie" Randolph's close bond with her parents is threatened by a family secret, and by hiding her relationship with Booker, who has been in juvenile detention.

The stars and the blackness between them by Junauda Petrus

Told in two voices, sixteen-year-old Audre and Mabel, both young women of color from different backgrounds, fall in love and figure out how to care for each other as one of them faces a fatal illness.

Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden

Savannah is lucky. The daughter of upper-class African-American parents in Washington D.C. in 1919, she lives luxuriously, with an elite education and her pick of the young men in her set. But lately the structure of her society-the croquet games, the Sunday teas, the pretentiousness-has felt suffocating. When she meets a young man from the working class named Lloyd, Savannah has a chance to see how the "other half" lives. Saddened by their situation, she is motivated to make a true difference. But suffragist lectures and socialist meetings are a radical interest for a young girl from society, and Savannah must find a way-her way-to change the world. Deeply relevant and emotionally resonant for a modern audience, this searing story reveals a girl becoming a woman in a world on the brink of sweeping change

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

"To discover the truth behind her mother's mysterious death, a teen girl infiltrates a magical secret society claiming to be the descendants of King Arthur and his knights"--

Black girl unlimited : the remarkable story of a teenage wizard by Echo Brown

From age six through her high school valedictory speech, believing she and her mother are wizards helps young Echo cope with poverty, hunger, her mother's drug abuse, and much more

Not so pure and simple by L Giles

High school junior Del Rainey unwittingly joins a Purity Pledge class at church, hoping to get closer to his long-term crush, Kiera.

The sound of stars by Alechia Dow

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world's population. Seventeen-year-old Janelle "Ellie" Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. With humans deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, emotional expression can be grounds for execution. Music, art and books are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her. Born in a lab, M0Rr1S was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie's illegal library, he's duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They're both breaking the rules for the love of art--and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does. Ellie's--and humanity's--fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution--thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while creating a story and a song of their own that just might save them both

When you were everything by Ashley Woodfolk

In New York City, follows the breakup of teenaged best friends Cleo and Layla, told in alternating timelines.

The black flamingo by Dean Atta

A fierce coming-of-age novel about identity and the liberating power of drag follows the experiences of a mixed-race teen in London who struggles to connect with his heritage before coming out and establishing his place in Drag Society.

You should see me in a crown by Leah (Young adult author) Johnson

Liz Lighty has always done her best to avoid the spotlight in her small, wealthy, and prom-obsessed midwestern high school, after all, her family is black and rather poor, especially since her mother died; instead she has concentrated on her grades and her musical ability in the hopes that it will win her a scholarship to elite Pennington College and their famous orchestra where she plans to study medicine--but when that scholarship falls through she is forced to turn to her school's scholarship for promking and queen, which plunges her into the gauntlet of social media which she hates and leads her to discoveries about her own identity and the value of true friendships.

Song below water by Bethany C Morrow

In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers. Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school's junior year. But, everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment. Soon, nothing in Portland, Oregon, seems safe. To save themselves from drowning, it's only Tavia and Effie's unbreakable sisterhood that proves to be the strongest magic of all
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