Who says the little man can’t make waves? No one in the book business can say it, just ask the We Need Diverse Books movement. With every new year comes new authors and with 2016 we are seeing not only debuts of color but characters of color. Below is a list of YA debut authors of color and books from debuts that feature characters of color.
Debut Authors of Color
- Roshani Chokshi — The Star Touched Queen
Inspired by Indian Mythology, Maya’s future life of love is cursed with death. When Maya is forced to marry for political reasons, her new reign as the queen of Akaran soon becomes marked with magic and mystery.
- Mia Garcia — Even if the Sky Falls
Seeking a change and a little adventure, Julie travels to New Orleans with her youth group to build houses. When she doesn’t find the change she so desperately needs with her group, she sets out on her own to discover the city when she meets and falls in love with Miles.
- Rahul Kanakia — Enter Title Here
Reshma is a high school senior and has made it her mission in life to get into Stanford. When a literary agents seeks her out to write a novel, Reshma soon realizes that no one wants to read about a boring over achiever so she sets out to live the life of the average teenager. Reshma discovers that there’s more to life than studying.
- Bethany C. Morrow — The Last Life of Avrilis
In this steampunk debut, Avrilis changes history and saves a life that she shouldn’t have saved and she finds herself a fugitive in two different worlds.
- Jenn P. Nguyen — The Way to Game the Walk of Shame
Taylor’s rep goes from ice queen to the girl who gets around when she’s found drunk and in the bed of the school’s bad boy. In order to reclaim her good rep, she convinces the bad boy to pretend to be her boyfriend and not just another notch on his belt.
- Lygia Penaflor — Unscripted Joss Byrd
Joss Byrd is just trying to please a demanding director and an overbearing mother in the glamorous world that is Hollywood.
- Randi Pink — Into White
Latoya Williams is a black girl in an all white school and makes a wish to make her life easier and to be white. Find out what happens when Latoya’s wish comes true.
- Riley Reigate — Seven Ways We Lie
Paloma High School is shrouded with rumors of a teacher student relationship and everyone begins to find someone to blame.
- Evelyn Skye — The Crown’s Game
Vika and Nikolai are enchanters and they are being sought by the Ottoman Empire for political gain. In order to find the best enchanters, the Tsar announces a duel where the losers must die. Vika and Nikolai see this as an opportunity of varied reasons but what will happen when they fall in love knowing that they both can’t survive?
- Traci Chee — The Reader
After the murder of Sefia’s parents, she’s sent to live with her aunt until her aunt is taken. Armed with survival and combat skills, Sefia sets out to find her aunt and the answers surrounding her father’s murder.
Set in Victorian London, Rose sets out to find her missing sister and discovers that they both might possess special powers.
Debuts with Diverse Characters
- Jerkbait by Mia Siegert
Tristan and Robbie are estranged twins until they are forced to share a room to keep Robbie from hurting himself. Tristan soon discovers that Robbie is gay and is scared to come out in the world of pro hockey. When Robbie plans to run away with someone he met online, will Tristan turn him in or go with him?
- This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
The lives of four teens will be forever changed when a shooter enters their auditorium.
- If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Amanda is the new girl in town and when she meets Grant she must decide if she should share her secret and let him in or push him away.
- Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Riley is gender fluid, the new teen in town, and has a father who is a congressman. On the advise to start a blog to vent, Riley’s blog becomes viral and someone discovers the blog and Riley’s secret. Riley must decide abandon the blog or come out.
- South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf
Kaycee’s southern town is all about Friday night football, boyfriends, and being a good girl. Kaycee has no interest in boys but will she openly date that girl everyone gossips about?
- Last Mud Season by Kenneth Logan
In his rural hometown, a gay teen must decide to openly date the love of his life or remain in the closet.
- TimeKeeper by Tara Sim
In this world, cities are run by clocks and if a clock breaks, time stops. Danny has been sent to fix a clock when he falls in love with the clock spirit.
- Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
A princess must decide to go with duty and marry her betrothed prince or follow her heart and be with his sister.
- A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Set in Puerto Rico, Isabel is a legend of a girl with green skin and grass for hair. When Lucas’ family moves to town, he wants to believe especially after a heart break. When mysterious letters begin to appear, Lucas believes.
- The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Nix is a member of a four man crew aboard The Temptation-captained by her father. Captain Slate is fiercely searching for a map from 1868 to go back into time to save his one true love. Will Nix help him or sabotage his search?
- The Rebel of Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Amani lives in Dustwalk where nothing happens. When her sharpshooting skills fails to aid in her escape, she finds a wanted stranger to help.
- Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
What was Blackbeard, the pirate, like as a teenager? Blackhearts imagines Blackbeard as a teen as he falls in love with Anne, his father’s bi-racial servant.
- Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
Breezy woke up from a shallow grave but that’s impossible because she was murdered. Not sure what she is, Breezy travels the country looking for murderers until she encounters a church who can answer all her questions.
- The Abyss Around Us by Emily Skrutskie
Cas’ family business is to raise beasts to defend ships in the pirate waters but when her first mission fails, will she become a Reckoner she so longs to be?
- Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs
Elena Martinez has an eidetic memory and when she volunteers to go into the future to bring back data, she must use her hidden gift to save her and her friends.
Diverse Supporting Characters
- Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
Hope’s mother has died and her father ships her off to an aunt she’s never met in Scotland. After only a couple of hours in Scotland, Hope learns that she comes from a family of time travelers and she must help stop their nemesis.
- A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
In this reimagination of Sherlock Holmes, Charlotte Holmes is a distant relative of Sherlock and a high school student in America. James Watson, a distant relative of Dr. John Watson, is student at the same school and Watson and Holmes eventually meet up to solve a murder.
Do you know of any diverse debuts that we missed? Please share in the comments!
— Dawn Abron, currently reading The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin