BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Hunger Games, Twilight, and The Fault in Our Stars are just a few of the many books that have dominated the young adult genre in recent years. However, there is a major issue common amongst these novels. All three of these books feature a predominantly white cast, with white main characters, and they are all written by white authors.
Representation of characters written by authors of different races, genders, and sexualities is crucial for educating others on the different lives and issues that people from different backgrounds face.
Right now it is more important than ever to support Black authors, and read books that feature Black main characters. With the country's focus on the fight to end the racially motivated violence against Black Americans, it is critical to be educated on the prevalence of racism.
If the demand for books that represent diversity increases, publishers will be forced to recognize the unheard stories of thousands of authors of color. These four books written by Black authors will help readers better understand the ongoing fight for equality in our country.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone: Despite this novel’s small size, it leaves a strong mark on the reader. The main character Justyce McCallister attends a prestigious public school where he is one of the only Black students. Justyce’s time at his private school has made him painfully aware of the privilege and ignorance of many of his white peers, yet Justyce prefers to stay quiet when they make offensive jokes or comments. Everything changes when Justyce is arrested because a white cop assumed Justyce was kidnapping his drunk girlfriend, when really he was trying to safely drive her home. Now Justyce is ready to fight against the systemic racism he experienced firsthand, but speaking up for what he believes in will be a lot more complicated than he imagined.
Felix Ever After By Kacen Callander: Felix Ever After is an exceptional story about a young man who embodies the progressiveness of the current generation. Felix Love is a transgender, queer, and Black teenager in America who is in a desperate search to find his soulmate. He is proud of his identity, but sometimes he feels that his identity might be the reason why he cannot find love. One day an anonymous student begins to harass Felix online, posting images of Felix before he transitioned and spreading Felix’s deadname, the name he no longer uses after transitioning. This novel follows Felix as he navigates a tangled journey of finding self-love and acceptance, while also exploring the struggles of being a part of multiple minorities.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: This novel is perfect for fans of fantasy who are looking for a magical world that entertains and educates readers on real world issues. Adeyemi weaves a story inspired by West-African culture about a country called Orïsha. Magi once thrived in Orïsha until a malicious King, afraid of the maji’s powers, hunted all them to extinction. Now, all that remains of the magi are the silver haired diviners, young maji whose powers are dormant. Zélie Adebola is a diviner, and all her life she has faced brutal oppression because of the maji blood in her veins. Zélie is approached with an opportunity to bring back magic and she jumps at the chance to avenge her ancestors who were unjustly hunted down. Although Adeyemi’s story takes place in a fictional world, her intention was to write a book that is “an allegory to the modern Black-experience”, and her execution of this is exceptional.
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas: The Hate You Give was published three years ago, yet the storyline is almost identical to the unrest in America we have seen over the past few months. This book follows sixteen-year old Starr Carter whose world is flipped upside down when her childhood best friend Khalil is fatally shot by a police officer right in front of her. Khalil was unarmed and not antagonizing the officer in any way. Khalil’s story quickly makes headlines, and protestors in Starr’s community demand justice. Starr wants justice more than anyone else and she’s ready to rise up to fight for what is right. Angie Thomas uses the raw and unfiltered point of view of a young Black teenager in America to convey the need to take action against the unjust violence against Black people.