Category Archives: Book Lists

10 YA Books About African American Teens by African American Writers

It’s Black History Month, which means there are plenty of lists floating around these days about African American history. For a change of pace, here’s a selection of YA novels about African American teens of today, written by African American writers. Descriptions are from Worldcat.

Pull by B.A. Binns (Westside Books) — After his father kills his mother, seventeen-year-old David struggles to take care of his two sisters–and himself–while dealing with his grief, guilt, and trying to fit in at a tough new school while hiding his past.

Kendra by Coe Booth (Push) — High schooler Kendra longs to live with her mother who, unprepared for motherhood at age fourteen, left Kendra in the care of her grandmother.

Not a Good Look by Nikki Carter (K-Teen Dafina) — Sunday Tolliver is this close to making her music industry career dreams come true–until her mother spends her entire college fund. Now Sunday’s only chance to get to college means slaving as a personal assistant to her diva cousin, Dreya.

A la Carte by Tanita S. Davis (Alfred A. Knopf) — Lainey, a high school senior and aspiring celebrity chef, is forced to question her priorities after her best friend (and secret crush) runs away from home.

Fake ID by Lamar Giles (Amistad) — An African-American teen in the Witness Protection Program moves to a new town and finds himself trying to solve a murder mystery when his first friend is found dead.

Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson (Delacorte) — Joshua Wynn is definitely what you would call a good guy. He’s a preacher’s son who chooses abstinence and religious retreats over crazy nights and wild parties … One Sunday, Joshua’s mind drifts from his father’s sermon to a beautiful girl in the fifth row. She’s gorgeous, wearing a dress cut down to there, and she looks like the little girl he crushed on as a kid. It turns out that Maddie Smith is back in town, but instead of throwing her a welcome-back picnic, the community condemns her for her provocative clothes and the rumors about her past … But can Joshua save Maddie without losing himself?

Hot Girl by Dream Jordan (St. Martin’s Griffin) — Kate, a fourteen-year-old Brooklyn girl and former gang member, risks losing her first good foster family when she adopts the risqué ways of her flirtatious new friend, Naleejah.

DJ Rising by Love Maia (Little, Brown) — Sixteen-year-old Marley Diego-Dylan’s career as “DJ Ice” is skyrocketing, but his mother’s heroin addiction keeps dragging him back to earth.

Darius and Twig by Walter Dean Myers (HarperCollins) — Two best friends, a writer and a runner, deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem.

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum) — Ali lives in Bed-Stuy, a Brooklyn neighborhood known for guns and drugs, but he and his sister, Jazz, and their neighbors, Needles and Noodles, stay out of trouble until they go to the wrong party, where one gets badly hurt and another leaves with a target on his back.

10 Diverse Love Stories for Valentine’s Day

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.

More YA and YA-friendly Books About LGBT Characters of Color

By Malinda Lo

Last October, I posted a list of YA books about LGBT characters of color. It’s been tough to find more books, so these additions expand the goal slightly and are about (1) a queer person of color protagonist; (2) a queer protagonist in a romantic relationship with a POC; or (3) a main character dealing with queer POC parents as the central story line.

Please note: Not all of these were published as “young adult” novels; some are technically “adult” novels but are about young queer people of color coming of age. Links go to Barnes & Noble; descriptions are from Worldcat.

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The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Ten short stories about bisexual, half-Asian warlock Magnus Bane from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices trilogies.

Angry Management by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books)

A collection of short stories featuring characters from earlier books by Chris Crutcher.

Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis (Random House Children’s Books)

In alternating chapters, sixteen-year-old twins Ysabel and Justin share their conflicted feelings as they struggle to come to terms with their father’s decision to dress as a woman.

Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole (Bella Books; originally published by HarperTeen)

Laura, a seventeen-year-old Cuban American girl, is thrown out of her house when her mother discovers she is a lesbian, but after trying to change her heart and hide from the truth, Laura finally comes to terms with who she is and learns to love and respect herself.

The Culling by Steven dos Santos (Flux)

In a futuristic world ruled by a totalitarian government called the Establishment, Lucian “Lucky” Spark and four other teenagers are recruited for the Trials. They must compete not only for survival but to save the lives of their Incentives, family members whose lives depend on how well they play the game.

For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Peter, the only boy among four siblings born to Chinese immigrants, is convinced he is a girl and must fight the confines of a small town as well as the expectations of his parents to forge his own path into adulthood.

Mariposa Club by Rigoberto Gonzalez (Lethe Press)

Four gay high school boys start a club, and when one of them is targeted in a homophobic incident, the entire school turns to them as a symbol of grief, fear and hope.

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode (Candlewick)

Esme Rockett, also known as MC Ferocious, rocks her suburban Minnesota Christian high school with more than the hip-hop music she makes with best friends Marcy (DJ SheStorm) and Tess (The ConTessa) when she develops feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini).

A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar (Penguin)

Nidali, the rebellious daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, narrates her story from her childhood in Kuwait, her early teenage years in Egypt (to where she and her family fled the 1990 Iraqi invasion), to her family’s last flight to Texas. 

Chulito by Charles Rice-Gonzales (Magnus Books)

Set against a vibrant South Bronx neighborhood and the youth culture of Manhattan, Chulito is a coming-of-age, coming out love story of a sexy Latino man and the colorful characters that populate his block.

Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal (Kensington Books)

Satyal’s lovely coming-of-age debut charts an Indian-American boy’s transformation from mere mortal to Krishnaji, the blue-skinned Hindu deity. Twelve-year-old Kiran Sharma’s a bit of an outcast: he likes ballet and playing with his mother’s makeup. He also reveres his Indian heritage and convinces himself that the reason he’s having trouble fitting in is because he’s actually the 10th reincarnation of Krishnaji. He plans to come out to the world at the 1992 Martin Van Buren Elementary School talent show, and much of the book revels in his comical preparations as he creates his costume, plays the flute and practices his dance moves to a Whitney Houston song. But as the performance approaches, something strange happens: Kiran’s skin begins to turn blue. Satyal writes with a graceful ease, finding new humor in common awkward pre-teen moments and giving readers a delightful and lively young protagonist.

Street Dreams by Tama Wise (Bold Strokes Books)

Tyson Rua has more than his fair share of problems growing up in South Auckland. Working a night job to support his mother and helping bring up his two younger brothers is just the half of it. His best friend Rawiri is falling afoul of a broken home, and now Tyson’s fallen in love at first sight. Only thing is, it’s another guy. Living life on the sidelines of the local hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he’s going to have to get a whole lot more involved. And that means more problems, the least of which is the leader of the local rap crew he’s found himself running with. Love, life, and hip-hop never do things by half.

Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story by Ellen Wittlinger (Simon & Schuster) (America Latina lesbian MC)

When Marisol, a self-confident eighteen-year-old lesbian, moves to Cambridge, Massachusetts to work and try to write a novel, she falls under the spell of her beautiful but deceitful writing teacher, while also befriending a shy, vulnerable girl from Indiana.

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson (Penguin)

Almost-fourteen-year-old Melanin Sun’s comfortable, quiet life is shattered when his mother reveals she has fallen in love with a woman.

Thanks to Daisy Porter of Queer YA for many suggestions.

10 YA Fantasy/Science Fiction Novels About Latino Characters

10 Diverse Summer Reads

It’s beach books season! What are beach books? For the purposes of this list we think they’re fun, engrossing, romantic, thrilling page-turners (often set during the summer, of course!) that you can devour while you’re on vacation or chilling out by the pool. And you know what? There’s no reason they can’t have diverse main characters too.

So here’s Diversity in YA’s list of 10 fun books for the summer — thrills, chills, romance, and oh yeah, diversity. Enjoy!

YA Books About Multiracial Characters 2.0

(See 1.0 here)

10 Young Adult Books About LGBTQ People by LGBTQ Authors

Vintage by Steve Berman (Lethe Press)

One in Every Crowd by Ivan E. Coyote (Arsenal Pulp)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (Balzer + Bray)

Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole (Bella Books edition)

With or Without You by Brian Farrey (Simon Pulse)

Double Feature by Brent Hartinger (Buddha Kitty Books edition)

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (Knopf)

Adaptation by Malinda Lo (Little, Brown)

October Mourning by Lesléa Newman (Candlewick Press)

The Rules for Hearts by Sara Ryan (Viking)

YA Books About Transgender Characters

There haven’t been a lot of young adult books published about transgender characters. This list is not meant to be a “best of” list — it is simply a list of the titles that we are aware of, and we are sure there are more we aren’t aware of. This list is limited to titles published specifically for a young adult audience, which means titles published for adults that teens might still enjoy aren’t included.

Do you have a favorite YA book about a transgender character? Please tell us why you loved it!

10 YA Novels with Asian American Main Characters

Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen (Little, Brown, 2007)

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow (Egmont, 2010)

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier (Scholastic, 2002)

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger (Dial, 2008)

Beacon Hill Boys by Ken Mochizuki (Scholastic, 2004)

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013)

Orchards by Holly Thompson (Delacorte, 2011)

Name Me Nobody by Lois-Ann Yamanaka (Hyperion, 1999)

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang, art by Thiem Pham (First Second, 2011)

Girls for Breakfast by David Yoo (Delacorte, 2005)