I’m not that far past being a teen myself, but as someone who is biracial, I think today’s YA audience is a bit luckier than I am when it comes to finding someone who shares their background in a novel. Since teens of today have been allowed to identify legally as “more than one race,” it makes perfect sense that more YA novels have featured biracial characters.
The best part? Sometimes they don’t even have to be problem novels about racism. Progress, folks!
I presented research on this topic at YALSA’s YA Lit Symposium, and I still have plenty more titles on my reading list. I also discovered an academic text on being mixed race in YA (sadly, due to a half.com snafu, I have yet to read it): Mixed Heritage in Young Adult Literature by Nancy Thalia Reynolds (Scarecrow Press, 2009).
Here, though, are a few titles I’ve read thus far that your mixed and unmixed teens alike should find compelling and fun.
- Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa (Delacorte Press, 2003) is about Violet Paz, a half-Cuban, half-Polish American girl whose family is insisting she have a quinceaÃ±ero, or a traditional coming-out for girls when they turn 15. That would be fine, except that Violet’s father refuses to delve into his youth in Cuba, and Violet feels that it would be insincere to have a Cuban party when she knows next to nothing about Cuba. So she takes it upon herself to do a little research, at the risk of keeping secrets from her family. Osa’s approach to the topic is light, and you don’t have to be mixed to enjoy the book.