I had hoped to share this list last month but my procrastination lined up perfectly for Black History Month, so let’s go with it. Today we are going to explore some new YA books written by Black authors coming out in 2021 for you to read this month and all year long.
While quite a few of these were on my most anticipated YA books for this year, that list was just a small sliver of upcoming books I’m excited for! I’m excited to share even more books that made my reading list for this year.
This is in no way a definitive a list of ALL the upcoming young adult books coming out by black authors — just the ones I’m personally MOST excited about. I’d love to hear about the ones you are anticipating that aren’t on my list!
It’s also only the books from January through June — stay tuned for updates for the rest of the year.
A Little Tip…
YA Books By Black Authors To Read In 2021
There are so many good books coming out this year! From Black Joy and romance to hard-hitting stories of hardship to unique fantastical worlds…literally everything you could want on this list genre-wise.
I’ve been blogging since 2010 and it’s so heartening to see how far we’ve come with representation in YA lit. We still have a long way to go but I love not only seeing many, many more books by Black authors but there is so much more intersectional stories and diversity in genre and the types of stories being told.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you click on a link and purchase something I’ve talked about or recommended, I’ll receive a very small percentage of the sale. Please see my disclosure policy for more info
One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite
Out January 5, 2021
The sophomore novel of Maika and Maritza (two sisters) is about an activist named Kezi who dies under mysterious circumstances at a social justice rally and the sisters (and family) that are left reeling in the aftermath.
As Kezi becomes a rallying cry in the fight against police brutality, the sisters struggle with the way idealized way she’s being remembered, and the concept of which victims are “the good ones”, and embark on a journey to pay their own tribute to their sister.
When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris
Out January 5, 2021
A coming of age story about a boy whose sister goes missing, who he first assumes is just with her drug dealer boyfriend disappearing for a bit, but soon realizes something else must be going on and he sets off to find her with the police being no help in finding her.
Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
Out January 9, 2021
If you like rom coms in the vein of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, check out this one!
It’s about a girl who loves to write romance and is accepted for a prestigious writing opportunity only to find she’s hit a huge writer’s block. When a friend suggests she needs some real life love story inspiration to help her out of it, inspired by romance novels, she creates a master plan for her own happily ever after — only to realize it might not be the one she thought she wanted.
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Wanna read more books this year?
Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink
Out January 12, 2021
The setting for this YA historical is in 1921 during the Greenwood Massacre on what is known as Black Wall Street and follows two teenagers who have known of each other for all their years in school but haven’t really KNOWN each other until they work the same job and spend more time ago. And then life changes for them when a white mob storms their community.
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
Out January 12, 2021
I loved Big Mav so much in The Hate U Give and a prequel about HIM, set in the 90’s, is everything I could have asked for in a coming of age story of a boy having to come into manhood.
Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne
Out January 12, 2021
A novel in verse, Chlorine Sky, is a coming of age story about a girl and the crumbling of her relationship with her best friend.
I used to not think I liked novels in verse until I read Clap When You Land so I am especially pumped to keep exploring them and this one sounds like something I’d love because FRIEND BREAKUPS are an insta-pickup for me.
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Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall
Out January 19, 2021
High school Senior Frankie is about to leave his home in Jamaica to attend college, on scholarship, in the United States to become an engineer. Until his dad gets shot. His dreams and future slip away as he joins his uncle’s gang to pay for his dad’s medical bills.
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle
Out January 26, 2021
An urban fantasy that is equal parts adventure and social commentary that holds up a mirror to real world issues is your jam, check out this new YA release that I’ve seen billed as The Hate U Give meets Black Panther with a Katniss-like lead.
It’s about young Black teen from a poor neighborhood in Houston who, after her mom is killed, is whisked away from her home and her sister by her estranged dad who takes her to a secret country populated by gods.
There she finds out her true heritage and the fact that those on this island thrive on human suffering and she’s not allowed to leave.
When she sneaks off to go see her sister, she finds out things have gotten bad in her neighborhood and she must use her new-found magical identity to save her beloved community from the evil ravaging it.
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Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson
Out February 2, 2021
Andre a Black teen and a cancer survivor who receives a liver transplant. Not only did he receive a new liver but, after something strange happens, he finds out from the donor family that he’s inherited the ability to time travel and the brother of the donor will help him learn how to use it.
As he spends time in the past and the present he finds a love with a boy in the 1960’s but things get complicated in the present when an unexpected love blossoms.
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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Out February 9, 2021
The wait for this one has been excruciating as it was supposed to come out last year but then got pushed back to this year!
This one is a West-African inspired fantasy, the first in a new series, about an outcast who joins an all-girl army filled with girls who have special gifts like her who are the only ones who can defeat the threat looming over their empire.
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Like Home by Louisa Onome
Out February 23, 2021
As soon as I saw a comparison to “On My Block” (I love that show so much) plus some of my fave young adult writers, I knew I needed this.
It’s about a teen girl whose life is shaken to its core after an act of vandalism in her neighborhood occurs, a neighborhood already changed by a deadly incident years ago, and everything (relationships, her neighborhood) is thrown into upheaval as the spotlight on the act is thrust into the national spotlight and outsiders begin to try to “help fix” her neighborhood.
Some Other Now by Sarah Everett
Out February 23, 2021
An emotional story about a girl, estranged from the neighbors who were like family after a kiss ruined everything, who finds herself back in their orbit pretending to be dating one of the brother’s in that family during their mom’s last month of her life.
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
Out April 20, 2021
A Jamaican inspired fantasy featuring witches, from enemy castes, who unite for revenge.
This is the things my fantasy-loving dreams are made of — dark and twisty fantasy books featuring witches, revenge stories, and rich world-building.
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Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee
Out May 4, 2021
A rom-com about a self proclaimed romance expert & transgender teen’s first love and how it challenges his ideas about perfect relationships.
Noah is the author of a popular blog all about trans meet-cutes and happily ever after stories — all stories that Noah has fabricated from his own romantic fantasies and daydreams that he’s kept going as it has become a source of hope for so many trans teens.
When a troll exposes his blog as fake, he plans a fake dating scheme to prove a troll wrong and save the blog.
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
Out May 4, 2021
It’s about a girl whose epic notebook full of all her lists, lists about anything and everything and some deeply personal, goes missing and soon she finds one of her lists posted on social media.
To get her notebook back and avoid her blackmailer releasing the whole notebook, she’s told she must knock off all the things on her greatest fears list. She ends up tackling the list and trying to find out who has her notebook with an unlikely ally.
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Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield
Out May 4, 2021
It’s a coming of age story about a teenager whose Dad only lives with them part time and then the other half of the year he lives in his home in Jamaica.
Then one summer her mom tells her that she’s going to spend the summer with him in Jamaica — a trip she is wary of but also wanting in some ways — and she could never be prepared for what she experiences that summer.
Looks like a hard-hitting emotional story with set in the backdrop of a hurricane.
Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass
Out May 11, 2021
Inspired by Persuasion and set in Tobago, this is a second chance romance between childhood best friends and first loves about a girl who feels left behind working at her family’s resort instead of pursing her dreams and, the boy, who left to pursue his now soaring music career and ends up coming back to stay at her family’s resort with his whole entourage.
Ace of Spades by Daridah Abike-Iyimide
Out June 1, 2021
Gossip Girl meets Get Out, this twisty dark academia YA thriller is about two Black students (in a very white, elite school) and their struggles against an anonymous bully who threatens to spill their secrets.
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Instructions For Dancing by Nicola Yoon
Out June 3, 2021
A new contemporary romance from Nicola Yoon with a dash of magic! If you are looking for lighter YA books with black female leads, definitely check out this one.
It’s about a girl who doesn’t believe in love anymore after her dad’s infidelity and then that feeling grows when she witnesses a couple kiss and suddenly sees the story of their meeting…and how the relationship ends.
As she tries to figure out why she can see this in couples, she finds herself taking ballroom dance lessons and meeting a guy named X who becomes her dance partner and whom she starts to fall making her question if a great love story is worth the risk of heartbreak.
So those are the YA novels I’m excited about from African American and Black authors (all with Black protagonists). What Black YA books are you excited about? Let’s celebrate Black YA lit all year long — tell me some of the best YA books written by Black authors you’ve read.
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