A collection of incredible books by Black authors

Darcy Chew

Staff Writer

     A Quick Note: 

     I want to start off by saying that I am no expert in Black culture or racism as I have never and will never experience what a Black person goes through each day to combat systemic racism. However, it should not stop us from trying to understand and empathize with Black experiences. I believe that books foster empathy and recently the Black Lives Matter movement has brought attention to the fact that most of society is unaware of microaggressions that Black people have faced. So, I wanted to recommend these really amazing books as a way to help us become more empathetic, to amplify Black authors, and to just take a break from school work and stress. Have fun reading!

     All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

     “We are the living that have always been here but have been erased. We are the sons and brothers, daughters and sisters, and others that never get a chance to see ourselves nor to raise our voices to ears that need to hear them.”

     I just want to start off with a quick disclaimer that this book does contain some mature topics which include sexual harassment. So, if you get triggered by such topics, please do not read it.  However, I definitely recommend this book for a variety of reasons. This book is incredibly unique because it is a very honest memoir of Geroge M. Johnson’s life. This heart-wrenching nonfiction memoir is an incredible journey of Johnson finding his identity. Through childhood traumas and life lessons, readers get a glimpse of life as a Black queer person; the racism, the homophobia, and the forced gender roles. A book that might make you have to put it down for a while and just ponder life and question society. Another thing that I love about this book is that “this book was crafted with care and love, but most important to give a voice to so many from marginalized communities whose experiences have not yet been captured between the pages of a book” as George M. Johnson states in the Author’s Note. Only recently have there been queer Black books which is devastating because representation is important. Although it might not be directly relatable to many at our school, it is still such an incredible read that I highly recommend to everyone no matter race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. 

     The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

     “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

     Many of you may have already read this book or maybe watched the movie, but it is still a book I want to highlight because it is an instant classic. Angie Thomas is such a compelling author and her newest book, Concrete Rose which will be released January 2021 is a prequel to The Hate We Give (I’m really looking forward to reading it!). The Hate U Give has, sadly, become so important the last few years. It is a realistic fiction novel about Starr who is the sole witness in her friend Khalil’s death which happened at the hands of a police officer. Throughout the novel, readers are able to glimpse different elements of Black culture. It shines light on police brutality and the complexity of police and Black gangs. It reveals the depth of systemic racism and the impact of code switching. Although it is about the racism the Black community faces, which as an Chinese-American I do not understand, there are still a lot of moments when Starr is relatable. The voice in which the novel is written makes the novel incredibly captivating. I truly recommend this novel if you have not read it; at times it will bring you laughter, at times it will bring you tears, and at times it will make you want to do both at the same time.  

     A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

     “Nothing good can come out of a place that refuses to see the pain of the people whose backs it was built.”

     Unlike the other two books on this list, this book is a Young Adult Fantasy novel. It is perfect for lovers of Sarah J. Mass (if you cannot tell by the title) and Victoria Aveyard. While some of the plot follows a typical fantasy novel, the book is a refreshing YA novel. The first book of the duology follows Malik, a brother trying to save his younger sister, and Karina, a princess trying to save her kingdom, as they cross paths trying to carry out their own ambitions and goals. The author Roseanne A. Brown is an immigrant from Ghana, so the novel is inspired by West African folklore. Most fantasy books that have been published are centered around European-type kingdoms, so I love how the novel is based on the author’s own culture. I also really love the amount of thought and thoroughness put into the worldbuilding as very clear and it creates a more enthralling novel. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is a whirlwind of a journey so gripping that you lose track of time. It is the perfect novel to get lost in and destress about homework. 

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