The Growing Diversity in YA Novels! #IReadYA #WeNeedDiverseBooks

diversebooks

In the past few years, we have seen a growing trend in diverse YA novels.  We are seeing more and more books written about people with different backgrounds, ethnicity, cultures BY writers of diverse backgrounds, ethnicity, cultures and it’s ABOUT TIME!

Here are a few Diverse books, rich with culture that I have really enjoyed.

agoodlongwayA Good Long Way by Rene Saldana Jr.

“Stop it. The two of you, stop it! You’re father and son; you should love each other.” Roelito howls at his father and older brother as their heated argument turns into a pushing, shoving match. Beto has again come home way past curfew, and worse, smelling like a cantina.
When Beto Sr. tells his son that he either needs to follow the rules or leave, the boy–a senior in high school and a man as far as he’s concerned–decides to leave, right then, in the middle of the night. Once he has walked away, though, he realizes he has nowhere to go. Maybe his best friend Jessy–a hard-as-nails girl who has run away before can help him.
The story of Beto’s decision to run away and drop out of school is told from shifting perspectives in which the conflicted lives of Roel, Beto, and Jessy are revealed in short, poignant scenes that reflect teen-age life along the Texas-Mexico border.
Each one has a good long way to go in growing up. Roel fights against the teachers’ assumptions that he’s like Beto. Unlike his big brother, Roel is book smart and actually enjoys school. Jessy is smart too, but most of her teachers can’t see beyond her tough-girl facade. Her parents are so busy fighting with each other that they don t notice her, even if she s packing a suitcase to leave. And Beto . . . somewhere along the way he quit caring about school. And his teachers have noticed and given up too.
Author and educator Rene Saldana, Jr. once again writes a fast-paced, thought-provoking novel that will engage young adults in questions about their own lives and responsibilities to family, friends, and most of all, to themselves.

BUY A Good Long Way

writteninthestarsWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?
 
Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

BUY Written in the Stars

underpainedsky

Under a Painted Sky by Stacy Lee

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a
professional musician–not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder
still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of
fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life.
With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town
for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for
two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys
headed for the California gold rush.

Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to
their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when
they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn
out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new
setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not
many places to hide on the open trail.

BUY Under a Painted Sky

 

outofdarknessOut of Darkness by Ashley Perez

Out of Darkness is a work of historical young adult fiction, loosely based on an actual school explosion that took place in New London, Texas, in 1937. Ashley Hope Perez has taken the explosion as her backdrop and imagined a diverse cast of characters whose broken lives are utterly captivating and tragically entangled with the school and the explosion. The central story is that of two teenagers: Naomi, who is Mexican, and Wash, who is black. It’s a gripping novel about race, segregation, love, and the forces that destroy people.

 

BUY Out of Darkness (Fiction – Young Adult)


anember

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

BUY An Ember in the Ashes

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdiehthewrath

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

 BUY The Wrath and the Dawn

 

the hunted

The Hunted by Matt de la Pena

When the Big One hit, Shy was at sea in style. The Paradise Cruise luxury liner he worked on was a hulking specimen of the best money could buy. And now it’s at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, along with almost all of its passengers.
   Shy wasn’t the only one to survive, though. Addie, the rich blond daughter of a mysterious businessman, was on the dinghy he pulled himself into. But as soon as they found the rest of the survivors, she disappeared.
The only thing that filled the strange void of losing her was finding Carmen, his hot coworker, and discovering a way to get back home. But Shy’s luck hasn’t turned. Not yet.
   Back on the dinghy, Addie told him a secret. It’s a secret that people would kill for–have killed for–and she has the piece that could turn everything on its ear. The problem? Shy has no idea where Addie is. Back home in California seems logical, but there are more ways to die back home then Shy could ever have guessed.
   And thanks to what Shy now knows, he’s a moving target.

BUY The Hunted

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he theboyblacksuitmeets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

BUY The Boy in the Black Suit

alwayssometimesNever Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Never date your best friend 

Always be original 

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken 

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school. 

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. 

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

BUY Never Always Sometimes

bombahy

Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier

Dimple Lala thought that growing up would give her all the answers, but instead she has more questions than ever. Her boyfriend is distant, her classmates are predictable, and a blue mood has settled around the edges of everything she does.

It’s time for a change, and a change is just what Dimple is going to get — of scenery, of cultures, of mind. She thinks she’s heading to Bombay for a family wedding — but really she is plunging into the unexpected, the unmapped, and the uncontrollable. The land of her parents and ancestors has a lot to reveal to her — for every choice we make can crescendo into a jour¬ney, every ending can turn into a beginning, and each person we meet can show us something new about ourselves.

Tanuja Desai Hidier’s BORN CONFUSED gave voice to a new multicultural generation. Now, Bombay Blues explores everything this generation faces today, with a heady mix of uncertainty and determination, despair and inspiration, haunting loss and revelatory love.

BUY Bombay Blues

likenootherLike No Other by Una LaMarche

Fitting seamlessly alongside current bestsellers like Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, and John Green’s Paper Towns, LIKE NO OTHER provides a thoroughly modern take on romance that will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when you least expect it. 

Fate brought them together. Will life tear them apart? 

Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing. 

Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters). 

They’ve spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did. 

When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection. 

Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up?

BUY Like No Other

Call Me By My Name by John Ed Bradley  callme

From former football star and bestselling author John Ed Bradley comes a searing look at love, life, and football in the face of racial adversity. “Heartbreaking,” says Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak.

Growing up in Louisiana in the late 1960s, Tater Henry has experienced a lot of prejudice. His town is slow to desegregate and slower still to leave behind deep-seated prejudice.

Despite the town’s sensibilities, Rodney Boulett and his twin sister Angie befriend Tater, and as their friendship grows stronger, Tater and Rodney become an unstoppable force on the football field. That is, until Rodney sees Tater and Angie growing closer, too, and Rodney’s world is turned upside down. Teammates, best friends—Rodney’s world is threatened by a hate he did not know was inside of him.

As the town learns to accept notions like a black quarterback, some changes may be too difficult to accept.

BUY Call Me By My Name

The Smoking Mirror (The Garza Twins, Book 1)

smokemirrorsCarol and Johnny Garza are 12-year-old twins whose lives in a small Texas town are forever changed by their mother’s unexplained disappearance. Shipped off to relatives in Mexico by their grieving father, the twins soon learn that their mother is a nagual, a shapeshifter, and that they have inherited her powers. In order to rescue her, they will have to descend into the Aztec underworld and face the dangers that await them.

BUY The Smoking Mirror (Garza Twins) (Volume 1)


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Comments

  1. Thanks for putting me in such fabulous company in this round-up post! I look forward to putting the books that are “new” to me on my to-read shelf. 🙂

    • Margiesmustreads says:

      Thank you Ashley!!! I really loved Out of Darkness, I am going to recommend this one to my English & History Teachers for their classes.

      • You have no idea how ridiculously excited it makes me to hear you say that you are recommending the book for class use. I’m actually writing an article for _The ALAN Review_ right now about how serious engagements with tough topics (racialized violence, teen sexuality, abuse, etc) too often scare teachers away from using certain YA works in their classes. I think books with diverse characters, too, get disproportionately affected by this. Students need a chance to engage with the issues–and with complex literary worlds. The maturity called for to handle both is all the more reason that their encounter with the lit should be supported in the classroom. This is how we grow more sophisticated, more competent, and more compassionate readers ready to reckon with the increasingly diverse world they are inheriting.

        • Margiesmustreads says:

          I agree!!! I have an English Teacher that I work so well with and this is so up her ally!!! She doesn’t shy away from much! I love her!! I think I want to work on a small guide for them as far as theme, symbolism, plot, characters. etc… I live to analyze literature….I love to do it…I am really excited!

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