Topic: Race In YA

Published: 17-Jun-2020

Young adult fiction featuring stories that involve racial conflict. Relevant reads surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.

Bugs Whiti Hereaka
Bugs - Whiti Hereaka      NZ

It’s always been Jez and me. Me and Jez, that’s how it has always been. So what did you expect? Did you think that maybe you’d find out what happened to us in the future, me and Jez, Jez and me? Have you been following along, ticking things off check, check, check, to find out who got their happy ending?

Bugs is about the unfolding lives of three young people in their last year of school in small-town New Zealand. Life is slow, and it seems not much happens in town or in Jez and Bugs’s lives. But when Stone Cold arrives, the three come to different conclusions about how to deal with being trapped in a small town and at the bottom of the heap.

(Summary from Goodreads)



Shauna's Great Expectations


Shauna's Great Expectations - Kathleen Loughnan     AU

Shauna is in her final year at an elite private school & has great expectations. She holds an Indigenous scholarship and is determined to be the first member of her family to go to university, no matter what. The year is off to an excellent start and she and her friends are dreaming big about life after school and planning a trip to Paris. But suddenly she finds she must make a choice that threatens to throw all her plans into disarray. As pressure builds from every corner of her world, Shauna wonders what she'll have to sacrifice to keep hold of her dreams. Can she fulfil her own promise and still keep her promises to others? Will all her expectations be ripped away?

(Summary from catalogue)




Becoming Aurora


Becoming Aurora - Elizabeth Kasmer     AU

Tonight we are wolves. Our pack moves as one, past empty shop fronts and faded billboards.

Sixteen-year-old Rory is at a crossroads in her life. While her gang plans its next move in a racially motivated turf war, Rory is sentenced to spend her summer at an aged care facility. She's proud of taking the rap for a crime her gang committed and reading to a feisty old boxing champion isn't going to change that.

But what happens when Rory's path intersects with migrant boxer Essam's and she becomes the victim, not the perpetrator? Can she find the courage to face her past and become the girl her dad called Aurora?

(Summary from Goodreads)


The Hate U Give


The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas      US

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice.

(Summary from Goodreads)


On The Come Up


On the Come Up - Angie Thomas      US

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral . . . for all the wrong reasons.

Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.

(Summary from Goodreads)


I Am Alfonso Jones


I am Alfonso Jones - Tony Medina      US

The ghost of fifteen-year-old Alfonso Jones travels in a New York subway car full of the living and the dead, watching his family and friends fight for justice after he is killed by an off-duty police officer while buying a suit in a Midtown department store.

(Summary from catalogue)





Sister Heart


Sister Heart - Sally Morgan      AU

A young Aboriginal girl is taken from the north of Australia and sent to an institution in the distant south. There, she slowly makes a new life for herself and, in the face of tragedy, finds strength in new friendships. Poignantly told from the child's perspective, Sister Heart affirms the power of family and kinship. This compelling novel about the stolen generations helps teachers sensitively introduce into the classroom one of world's most confronting histories.

(Summary from catalogue)



Becoming Kirrali Lewis


Becoming Kirrali Lewis - Jane Harrison       AU

For Kirrali, life in 1985 was pretty chill. Sure, she was an Aboriginal girl adopted into a white family, but she was cool with that. She knew where she was headed - to a law degree - even if she didn't know 'who she was'. But when Kirrali moves to the city to start university, a whole lot of life-changing events spark an awakening that no one sees coming, least of all herself.

Story flashbacks to the 1960s, where her birth mother is desperately trying to escape conservative parents, give meaning to Kirrali's own search for identity nearly twenty years later. And then she meets her father...

(Summary from catalogue)



Piecing Me Together


Piecing Me Together - Renée Watson       US

Acclaimed author Renee Watson offers a powerful story about a girl striving for success in a world that too often seems like it's trying to break her. Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she's ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn't really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for "at-risk" girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn't mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She's tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.

(Summary from catalogue)


Remembered By Heart


Remembered By Heart: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing - Sally Morgan      AU

This moving collection of youthful memories touches on a broad sweep of history and includes people from many different Aboriginal countries. These stories are powerful: sharing pain, humour, grief, hope and pride. Pride in family, community and survival. Pride in being Aboriginal.

(Summary from catalogue)




Anger Is A Gift


Anger Is A Gift - Mark Oshiro      US

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

(Summary from Goodreads)


Out Of Darkness


Out of Darkness - Ashley Hope Pérez      US

This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?”  New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. “No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs.”  They know the people who enforce them.  “They all decided they’d ride out in their sheets and pay Blue a visit.”  But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.  “More than grief, more than anger, there is a need. Someone to blame. Someone to make pay.”

Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history—as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people

(Summary from Goodreads)


When Dimple Met Rishi


When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon      US

When Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel meet at a Stanford University summer program, Dimple is avoiding her parents' obsession with "marriage prospects" but Rishi hopes to woo her into accepting arranged marriage with him.

(Summary from catalogue)





Tyler Johnson Was Here


Tyler Johnson Was Here - Jay Coles       US

When Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on him. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler has gone missing and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

(Summary from catalogue)



Dear Martin


Dear Martin - Nic Stone       US

Justyce McAllister is top of his class at Braselton Prep, captain of the debate team, and set for an Ivy League school next year- but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He's eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident rattles him. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can't seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his new classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce's gorgeous -and white- debate partner he wishes he didn't have a thing for. Justyce has studied the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do they hold up now? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Then Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly, Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.

(Summary from catalogue)


The Poet X


The Poet X - Elizabeth Acevedo      US

Xiomara has always kept her words to herself. When it comes to standing her ground in her Harlem neighbourhood, she lets her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But X has secrets - her feelings for a boy in her bio class, and the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed. And a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight. Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent.

(Summary from catalogue)

NOTE: Interestingly, this cover of this novel was discovered to be a stolen image of a photographer, Amanda Rivas. For more information: Article 1, Article 2


Black Dove, White Raven


Black Dove, White Raven - Elizabeth Wein      US/Ethiopian

Emilia and Teo's lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo's mother died immediately, but Em's survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother's wishes—in a place where he won't be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat.

Seeking a home where her children won't be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation?

(Summary from Goodreads)


American Street


American Street - Ibi Zoboi       US

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find 'une belle vie' -- a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola's mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit's West Side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

(Summary from catalogue)


Catching Teller Crow


Catching Teller Crow - Ambelin Kwaymullina       AU

Nothing's been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her - and he's drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching, and what's her connection to the fire that killed a man? What happened to the people who haven't been seen since the fire? As Beth unravels the mystery, she finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another.

Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel weaves together themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family.

(Summary from Goodreads)


Outrun the Moon


Outrun the Moon - Stacey Lee       US

Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from poverty in Chinatown, and she gains admittance to a prestigious finishing school through a mix of cunning and bribery. She soon discovers that getting in was the easiest part, and must carve a niche among the spoiled heiresses. When the earthquake strikes on April 18, Mercy and her classmates are forced to a survivor encampment, but her quick-witted leadership rallies them to help in the tragedy's aftermath.

(Summary from catalogue)



All American Boys


All American Boys - Jason Reynolds       US

That's the sidewalk graffiti that started it all ... Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn't matter what Rashad said next -- that it was an accident, that he wasn't stealing -- the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again ... and again ... stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing. And that's how it started. And that's what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend's older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn't tell a soul ... He's not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school -- and nation -- start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like "racism" and "police brutality." Quinn realizes he's got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he's a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be. Rashad and Quinn -- one black, one white, both American -- face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn't die after the civil rights movement. There's a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world. Cuz that's how it can end.

(Summary from catalogue)


Black Enough


Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black In America - (Editor) Ibi Zoboi       US

Black is male. Black is female. Black is urban. Black is rural Black is rich and poor. Black is mixed-race Black is more There are countless ways to be BLACK ENOUGH. Featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling American black authors writing for teens today, Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and black in America.

(Summary from catalogue)



Dawn Raid novel


Dawn Raid - Pauline Smith       NZ

Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia's main worries are how to get some groovy go-go boots, and how not to die of embarrassment giving a speech at school! But when her older brother Lenny starts talking about marches and protests and overstayers, and how Pacific Islanders are being bullied by the police for their passports and papers, a shadow is cast over Sofia's sunny teenage days. Through her heartfelt diary entries, we witness the terror of being dawn-raided and gain an insight into the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers in the 1970s as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights.

(Summary from catalogue)


How It Went Down


How It Went Down - Kekla Magoon       US

When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.

In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth.

Tariq's friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.

(Summary from catalogue)


Black, White, Other


Black, White, Other - Joan Steinau Lester        US

As a biracial teen, Nina is accustomed to a life of varied hues—mocha-colored skin, ringed brown hair streaked with red, a darker brother, a black father, a white mother. When her parents decide to divorce, the rainbow of Nina’s existence is reduced to a much starker reality. Shifting definitions and relationships are playing out all around her, and new boxes and lines seem to be getting drawn every day. Between the fractures within her family and the racial tensions splintering her hometown, Nina feels caught in a perpetual battle. Feeling stranded in the nowhere land between racial boundaries, and struggling for personal independence and identity, Nina turns to the story of her great-great-grandmother’s escape from slavery. Is there direction in the tale of her ancestor? Can Nina build her own compass when landmarks from her childhood stop guiding the way?

(Summary from Goodreads)


Patron Saints of Nothing


Patron Saints of Nothing - Randy Ribay       US/Filipino

A coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin's murder.

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth -- and the part he played in it.

(Summary from Goodreads)


The Hypnotist


The Hypnotist - Laurence Anholt        US

Jack has left his native Ireland and is making a new life as Professor of Neurology at a university in the American South. He has certain skills, honed over his lifetime, that he mostly keeps hidden. Skills in hypnotism and mind control...Thirteen-year-old Pip is plucked out of an orphanage by a farmer, hired as a farm-hand, and as carer for the farmer's wife. But Pip is black. The farmer and his wife are white. And this is 1960s America, where race defines you and overshadows everything. As racial tensions reach boiling point with a danger closer to home and more terrifying than either thought possible, Jack and Pip's lives become inextricably linked. And Jack's hypnotic skills are called on as never before...

(Summary from catalogue)


Dreamland Burning


Dreamland Burning - Jennifer Latham       US

Some bodies won’t stay buried. Some stories need to be told. When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past, the present, and herself.

One hundred years earlier, a single violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

(Summary from Goodreads)

NOTE: On why the author wrote this story.


Monster Guy Sims


Monster - Guy Sims       US

While on trial as an accomplice to a murder, sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon records his experiences in prison and in the courtroom in the form of a film script as he tries to come to terms with the course his life has taken.

(Summary from catalogue)





Brontide


Brontide - Sue McPherson       AU

Rob; (and his brother Pen) white Aussies. Rob is completing Year 12, going to schoolies, working as an apprentice in his dad's company and loves his dog, Nig. Rob believes real men take risks. Pen; fifteen-years-old, storyteller, graffiti artiste extraordinaire with a penchant for male anatomy. Pen is liked by everyone. Pen and Benny Boy are mates. Benny Boy; twelve-years-old, Aboriginal, loves drawing, fishing and living with his awesome (white) foster Nan. Benny Boy doesn't trust Rob. Jack; white, male, finishing Yr 12, new to the area, from the bush and adopted into an Aboriginal family. Jack has met Pen and reckons he's a funny bugger. He has also just signed up as an apprentice working alongside Rob-the-knob. Brontide is a coming of age story about four boys and their lot in life. Recounted through storytelling sessions at their school over a period of five days, these boys chronicle their lives. They are at times demanding, occasionally rude, always funny and unexpectedly profound. The boys like to challenge themselves and the rules, and soon realise that not everything goes to plan...

(Summary from catalogue)
Miles Morales Spiderman


Mile Morales: Spider-Man - Jason Reynolds       US

As a student at Brooklyn Visions Academy, Miles Morales knows he's lucky. Not all kids get this opportunity, especially not kids from his neighborhood. With his quirky best friend Ganke, this school year is gonna be a blast. Right? Wrong. Miles has a secret. He's actually Spider-Man. Well not THE Spider-Man but A Spider-Man. Pretty much the only Spider-Man in town now that Peter Parker is gone. Miles is doing his best to save every little old lady but it's getting to be too much. He's got more important stuff to worry about like homework, girls, family, the perfect Halloween costume, and girls. Did we mention girls? Ok well maybe just one girl. But when Miles accidentally discovers a villainous teacher's plan to turn good kids bad, he will need to come to terms with his own destiny as the new SPIDER-MAN

(Summary from catalogue)


Allegedly


Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson        US

Mary B. Addison killed a baby. Allegedly. She didn't say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn't say. Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn't really "home"--No place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home. There wasn't a point to setting the record straight before, but now she's got Ted -- and their unborn child -- to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

(Summary from catalogue)


With the fire on high


With The Fire On High - Elizabeth Acevedo      US

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

(Summary from catalogue)


Juliet Takes a Breath


Juliet Takes A Breath - Gabby Rivera        US

Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn't sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that's going to help her figure out this whole "Puerto Rican lesbian" thing. She's interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women's bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff. Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle? With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

(Summary from catalogue)