As summer begins for libraries everywhere, it marks a time to celebrate and understand Juneteenth. Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas were first informed of their freedom as a result of Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Now a national day of observance , it is a perfect time to celebrate and understand Juneteenth with YA titles featuring black voices. Check out some of the Hub’s title selections that spotlight family, identity, and history which are cornerstones of Juneteenth celebrations as noted in thisNew York Times article.
Title Spotlight: Family
Brittney Morris’ The Cost of Knowing is a powerful story of two brothers, Alex and Isaiah, and their experiences as young Black men in America. The story highlights the power of the past, the ability of the future to overwhelm, the strength of familial bonds across generations, and the joy that is possible.
The saga of the Logan family is one that spans across generations of readers. The family’s story by Mildred D. Taylor began with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry in 1976 and concluded with All the Days Past, All the Days to Come in 2021. Following Cassie Logan and her family, the saga is compelling and showcases how time, history, and the promise of the future can shape a family’s story that leaves an impact on the world.
One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite follows the story of sisters Happi and Genny as they grapple with the death of their sister Kezi under suspicious circumstances after attending a social justice rally. As Happi and Genny go on a road trip using the original Green Book as their guide they rediscover the importance of family and sisterhood with a story interwoven with flashbacks and alternating perspectives.
Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These are titles that have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.
*Prices shown are for Library Digital Download.
Between Perfect and Real. By Ray Stoeve. Read by MW Cartozian Wilson. Recorded Books, LLC/Recorded Books, Inc., $70 (9781705028339).
Dean is a trans guy struggling with coming out to his friends and family. Exploring the internet and joining community groups allows him to more clearly define himself while acting as Romeo in a play helps his self discovery. Wilson’s voice is well matched and he skillfully narrates this emotional story.
Black Girl, Call Home. By Jasmine Mans. Read by Jasmine Mans. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Penguin Audio, $22.80 (9780593346884).
Mans calls herself and other Black girls home in this love letter and essential companion to girls and women on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing. Mans narrates this powerful and painful collection with many poems read and produced in unique ways.
Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.
Amari and the Night Brothers. By B.B. Alston. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (9780062975164).
Amari’s brother Quinton has disappeared, and her only hope of finding him is to follow in his footsteps and become a Junior Agent with the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs.
Amber and Clay. By Laura Amy Schlitz. Candlewick Press, $22.99 (9781536201222).
In ancient Greece, two unlikely friends Rhaskos and Melisto find their lives intertwined in a search for freedom and purpose. As a ghost bound to Rhaskos, Melisto must help free him before she can find her own rest in the Halls of Hades.
Renegade Rule by Ben Kahn, Rachel Silverstein, and Sam Beck Dark Horse Books Publication Date: June 2, 2021 ISBN: 9781506718019
Renegade Rule follows up-and-coming team The Manhattan Mist as they compete for a spot in the national Renegade Rule Tournament. Renegade Rule is a virtual reality video game similar to capture the flag where two teams play against each other, trying to eliminate players from the other team or find the prize objective on different maps. The Manhattan Mist team is composed of four friends who enjoy spending time with each other and playing the game, all while handling other complications such as family illness, impostor syndrome, and more.
The Everything I Have Lost by Sylvia Zéleny; narrated by Lori Felipe-Barkin OrangeSky Audio Release date: 05-11-21 ISBN: 9781667003146
Told through journal entries, Julia shares her life coming of age in Juarez, Mexico. Although a US citizen herself, her father is not, and so they live in the “murder capital of the world.” People die, women disappear, and drug runners rule the streets. Just on the other side of the river is El Paso, Texas, where her aunt and cousins live. When her father becomes one of the casualties of this domestic war, will they escape to the US?
The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication Date: April 6, 2021 ISBN: 978-1534445451
Since his parents’ death in a car crash, Black sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus has somehow developed the ability to see the future of any object or person his hand touches. Seeing himself scooping ice cream whenever he touches the handle of a scoop at work is not much more than a nuisance, but with every inadvertent foreseeing, Alex becomes more certain that his abilities are a curse. When Alex touches a family photo and sees a series of events leading to his brother Isaiah’s death, he resolves to do something, anything, to repair their relationship and save Izzy in what little time he has left.
Though we champion Black voices all year long, February is Black History Month, and YALSA member Annierra Matthews has pulled together a list to commemorate and elevate this celebration. Annierra is a Research Services Library at Mercer University in Douglasville, Georgia, and has a passion for YA!
For those who prefer to cuddle up with a book, here’s a list of compelling fiction written by Black authors and featuring Black characters.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Malik must save his sister from a sinister spirit, and in order to do so, he must kill Crown Princess Karina. Karina, on the other hand, must offer a king’s heart to revive her mother. When Malik and Karina face-off in the Solstasia competition, they contend with falling in love and completing their goal.
Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins Publication Date: October 1, 2019 ISBN: 978-0062473073
Sweet Pea DiMarco’s been through a lot of change recently: Her bestie dumped her, her dad came out, and her parents got divorced. In a misguided effort to keep her life stable, Sweet Pea’s dad moves into a nearly identical home two doors down. The choices she makes when she takes over her elderly neighbor’s advice column will shake everything up. But will things change for the better, or for worse?