Top Ten Tuesday, as always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish
This week’s topic: Ten Diverse Books I Love
I think one of the biggest things I’ve gained from joining this online book community is a better perspective and awareness of my privilege as a straight white woman from the middle class. Before I joined I had no idea, as I was reading and finding myself in almost everything I read, that non-white kids and teens were reading lots and lots of books where who THEY were wasn’t reflected anywhere — maybe a side character but rarely ever the main character. It’s so easy for me to pick up a book that features a white female and I never knew how much I took that forgranted. It made me so sad that young people who weren’t white or straight would have such a hard time finding literature that reflected who they are. Sure, they can relate to the things happening on the page but why should it be so hard for them to find a black or lesbian or disabled main character? The world is so diverse! There are a lot of reasons this is the way it is and I highly recommend checking out We Need Diverse Books — an organization dedicated to diversity in publishing along with educating and advocacy.
At the end of the day I want a good book. But I also found that I’ve been trying to also make it a point to seek out books that are good AND are written by/feature a marginalized person. I want publishing to know that YES WE WILL READ THIS. THESE STORIES ARE IMPORTANT TOO.
So here are some books I’ve really enjoyed that feature diverse main characters:
(diversity for me: POC, Quiltbag, religious minorities, cultural, disabled, socio-economically)
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: I could not put this down at all! The main character is an American Pakistani. Part of culture is arranged marriage but she’s secretly had a boyfriend who is a family friend. Her parents find out, are beyond furious and take a family trip to Pakistan that ends up being more than just a family vacation. I loved how it explored arranged marriages and I definitely learned a lot/squashed some per-conceived notions I had about arranged marriages. (My review)
Boy In the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds: I loved this book so much! The main character is a black teen living in Brooklyn and his story resonated so much with me. He is grieving the loss of his mother and it’s just such a beautiful, quiet novel. I dog-eared so many pages! (My review)
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio: This book made me cry along with teaching me what intersex is. I honestly didn’t quite know what it was and learned right alongside of the main character, a teen girl, who finds out that she is intersex. It was so hard to watch her struggle with this new part of her identity and all the crap she got from people at school who were so, so cruel and misinformed. (my review)
Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee: OH MAN. OREGON TRAIL. I loved this historical fiction novel featuring a Chinese girl (two things that make life hard for her here in 1849 in Missouri and seemingly impossible on their journey) and a runaway slave. (my review)
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen: The main character, previously a runner, loses her leg in an accident and adjusts to life as an amputee. This one was a happy feeling inspirational kind of book even though you felt how hard it was for her. There was another main character, Rosa, who was my favorite. She had cerebral palsy and she teaches the main character a lot about not just seeing someone’s disability but seeing them in addition to being an amazing friend. (my review)
Like No Other by Una LaMarche: This was the first time I’ve ever read about a person who is a Hasidic Jew in YA lit. I really enjoyed learning about a sect of religion I didn’t know anything about. Not to mention this love story, a forbidden one, was just so easy to get tangled up in. It was so complicated and I loved the end and GAH it was just so good!! (my review)
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley: This is another historical fiction novel! It was so heart-wrenching. It’s set during the 60’s when the Civil Rights Movement was happening and it follows two girls — one who is being integrated into this previously all white school along with a handful of other black students, and one who is white and doesn’t want this integration to happen. I loved how two people who are pit up against each other SEE each other as humans plus there is a romance involved that definitely wouldn’t have been approved by the majority for two reasons. Such a powerful read! (my review)
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia: Made You Up was an interesting book as it is from the perspective from a character who has schizophrenia and so it makes it had, as a reader, to know what is real and not real as the main character struggles with it. (my review)
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: One of my favorite books I read last year!!! It’s so delightful and wonderful and GAHHH HEART EYES FOREVER. The main character, Simon, is gay and hasn’t come out yet and has this email relationship with growing feelings with a boy who goes to his school but they have remained anonymous behind their screennames. There is black mail and great friendship dynamics and the romances is the CUTEST EVER. Plus Simon has some really poignant and funny thoughts about the whole idea of coming out. (my review)