“We look to books to take us to new places, to meet new people, to have new experiences. Yes. But we also look to books to find ourselves. To see yourself, your life experience, a face or name like yours in a book means something. I’m an adult who didn’t experience this as a child, and I still get goosebumps when I see a character that resembles me in a book. It legitimizes your place wherever you are. If you don’t understand this, if you can’t empathize with someone’s need for this sense of recognition, it’s because you have the privilege to not understand or care.”
Happy Valentine’s Day! Here are 10 stories about love, starring people of color and/or LGBT characters. Book descriptions are from Worldcat.
He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander (HarperCollins)— When a popular football ‘playa’ and ladies man and the smartest girl in school lead a school protest, sparks fly as their social media-aided revolution grows.
Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman (Simon & Schuster) — In a world where the pale-skinned Naughts are discriminated against by the politically and socially powerful dark-skinned Crosses, teenagers Callum—a Naught—and Sephy—a Cross—test whether their love is strong enough to survive their society’s racism.
Between You & Me by Marisa Calin (Bloomsbury) — Phyre, sixteen, narrates her life as if it were a film, capturing her crush on Mia, a student teacher of theater and film studies, as well as her fast friendship with a classmate referred to only as “you.”
Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper (Atheneum) — Romiette, an African-American girl, and Julio, a Hispanic boy, discover that they attend the same high school after falling in love on the Internet, but are harrassed by a gang whose members object to their interracial dating.
When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer (Thomas Dunne Books) — Soledad Reyes decides to dance Carmen as part of a drum and bugle corps competition, not knowing if it will help or harm her chance of becoming a professional ballet dancer but eager to pursue new options, including a romance with the boy who invited her to audition.
Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier (Scholastic Press) — Seventeen-year-old Dimple, whose family is from India, discovers that she is not Indian enough for the Indians and not American enough for the Americans, as she sees her hypnotically beautiful, manipulative best friend taking possession of both her heritage and the boy she likes.
My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger (Dial) — Three teenagers in Boston narrate their experiences of a year of new friendships, first loves, and coming into their own.
Street Love by Walter Dean Myers (Amistad) — This story told in free verse is set against a background of street gangs and poverty in Harlem in which seventeen-year-old African American Damien takes a bold step to ensure that he and his new love will not be separated.
Mismatch by Lensey Namioka (Delacorte) — Their families clash when a Japanese-American teenaged boy starts dating a Chinese-American teenaged girl.
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler (Simon Pulse) — Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. But as Jude begins to fall for Emilio Vargas, she begins to wonder if her sisters were wrong.