By Hanna, Coulee City
Reading fiction by Black writers expands our understanding of Black voices, stories, achievements, and experiences. Stories by Black authors illuminate the way issues and circumstances have shifted over time, shining a light on how history directly impacts the present.
Here is a small selection of books published in the past year to read this – or any – month of the year.
Sweet People Are Everywhere by Alice Walker. Print.
Sweet People Are Everywhere, an illustrated picture book featuring a poem by internationally renowned writer and activist Alice Walker, is a powerful celebration of humanity. The poem addresses a young boy getting his first passport, taking the boy–and the reader–on a journey through a series of countries around the globe where ‘sweet people’ can be found.
When I say something is unfair to me, but it’s fair for you, what does that make it? When I meditate, it all gets clear. And if you listen, you will really hear. I am not alone. I am enough. It can be scary to feel like you’re all on your own, especially in the face of prejudice. But always remember: you are not alone. Inspired by the Alphabet Rockers’ empowering song “Not Alone,” this uplifting picture book reassures kids that they belong and encourages them to love their beautiful selves and their identities, use their voices against hate, and step up for one another and have one another’s backs no matter what.
Operation Sisterhood by Rhuday-Perkovich Olugbemisola. Print.
Eleven-year-old Bo is used to it being just her and her mom in their cozy New York apartment, but when her mom gets married, Bo must adjust to her new sisters and a music-minded blended family that is much larger, louder, and more complex than she ever imagined.
Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms by Jamar J. Perry. Print
When Cameron and his best friends are magically transported through the pages of an ancestral book to the fabled West African country Chidani, they find a kingdom in extreme danger and have to find a way to save the Igbo people.
Three days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival. Toni is reeling in the wake of the loss of her roadie father and desperate to figure out where her life will go from here — so she’s heading back to the festival that taught her to love music in a last ditch effort to rediscover her passion. Olivia is a hopeless romantic whose heart has just taken a beating (again), and is beginning to believe that someone like her may never find “the one” — but the Farmland Music and Arts Festival is a chance to at least find a place where she fits. When the two collide, it feels like kismet. But when something goes wrong and the festival is sent into a panic, Toni and Olivia find that they need each other, and the music, more than they ever imagined.
As much as Alex Rufus tries, he often comes up short. It is hard for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. These visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life. And then Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother Isaiah’s imminent death. Now the brothers grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present.
Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but when it comes to the army, specifically the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), they are both starting from the same level. Not only will they be among the first class of female officers the army has even seen, they are also the first Black women allowed to serve. Based on the true story of the 6888th Postal Battalion (the Six Triple Eight), Sisters in Arms explores the untold story of what life was like for the only all-Black, female U.S. battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II.
Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing. Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust. A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, 28-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know, until she does exactly that. This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her parent’s expectations, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows. In New York, she’s able to ignore all the constant questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along, the fears.