In Skin of the Sea, listeners met Simi, a Mami Wata who collects the souls of those who die at sea, and traveled with her as she journeyed to save humanity. In Soul of the Deep, Simi discovers that despite her best intentions, her sacrifice may not have been enough. Olokun did not fulfill their promise to return Esu to Oludumare. Without Esu to bind them, the demon ajogun are threatening to break free and destroy the world. Simi must free Esu and return to the land to seal the gateway between worlds before the ajogun can escape. Along the way, Simi enlists the help of Kola-whom she thought she would never see again. Even though she knows they can never be together, their reunion is an opportunity for hope and connection.
Yetide Badaki brings characters to life with depth and nuance. Her narration brings West African spiritual beliefs to life with lots of Black girl magic in a beautiful mesh of history and myth. The audio version is especially powerful as it recenters the rich oral storytelling traditions at the heart of this narrative.
Fans of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemiand Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor will love the weaving of intricate world building, mythology, romance, and high-stakes adventure found in these books.
–Josie Snow and Katie Patterson
Other Nominated Titles:
Alone Out Here by Riley Redgate; narrated by Riley Redgate (04/05/2022)
The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling; narrated by Katie Koster and Kristen DiMercurio (12/7/2021)
When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez; narrated by Elisabet Velasquez (09/21/2021)
Alma Presses Play by Tina Cane; narrated by Dana Wing Lau (09/14/2021)
Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez; narrated by Ana Osorio (05/31/2022)
K-Pop Revolution by Stephan Lee; narrated by Joy Osmanski (04/05/2022)
The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.
This novel in verse follows Sarai, a first generation Puerto Rican growing up in Bushwick with her mother and her sister during the 1990s. Sarai and her family navigate the welfare system, as well as finding housing in a neighborhood with increasing gentrification. Along the way, Sarai asks questions that bring her closer to herself and her own definition of what it means to make it, as she fights all the narratives and opinions that are forced upon her by a society that actively works against her intersectional identities.
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.
Ace of Spades. By Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends, $18.99 (9781250800817).
Ambitious queen bee Chiamaka and loner scholarship kid Devon are the only Black students at school. That’s all they have in common until an online bully going by the name “Aces” starts spilling all their secrets. Chiamaka and Devon will have to join forces to bring Aces down—or lose everything.
Bad Witch Burning. By Jessica Lewis. Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press, $17.99 (9780593177389).
Katrell’s ability to converse with the dead has been earning her enough money to help her mom pay bills and buy food. When she makes a startling discovery about her abilities around the same time she receives a dire warning to stop using her magic, Katrell is faced with an impossible decision.
Barry Squires, Full Tilt. By Heather Smith. 2020. Penguin Random House Canada/Penguin Teen, $17.99 (9780735267466).
After watching a performance of Irish step dancers, Barry Squires decides he was meant for tap shoes. The trick will be convincing everyone around him to give him a chance.
On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork Scholastic Press Publication Date: May 18, 2021 ISBN: 978-1338692150
The last few years haven’t been easy for Hector and his family. His father’s untimely death resulted in the loss of their home and subsequent move to the projects, and sent his brother Fili into a battle with depression and alcohol abuse. But things seem to be looking up–Hector’s become a star player on the school’s chess team and just recently won a prestigious essay contest. Even Fili seems to be doing better. Then, Joey, the younger brother of a local gang member, targets Hector, intimidating him and threatening to kill him. Terrified, but too afraid to tell anyone, Hector’s life begins spiraling downhill again, culminating in a tragic encounter that lands Hector in a reformatory school along with his nemesis, Joey.