Five Young Adult 2021 Novels Written by African Americans

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

This novel examines the divide between black and white communities and emphasizing the financial struggles among black people and the emotional trauma that comes with it. This novel takes place in 2008 when Barack Obama was running for president. Ruth Tuttle is an Ivy-League educated black engineer who lives in Chicago and is married. Her husband is eager to start a family, but Ruth has mixed thoughts. She clings to the past when she abandoned her baby when she was only a teenager. She wants to make peace with her past and decides to go back to Indiana where she lived. However, the Indiana factory town of her past is now suffering racism, unemployment and hopelessness. Her family is overjoyed to see her, but they remind her of the sacrifices they made to help Ruth get to where she is -a middle class life.  Ruth is determined to find out the truth and dig into her past, she will find family secrets that her family is hiding. She befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also looking for connection. When a sudden incident strains the town’s already racial traction, Ruth and Midnight are caught in the middle.

The Place Beyond Her Dreams by Obya Aligwekwe

This fantasy fable brings light into an important lesson about self-discovery and transformation. When Ona’s grandfather dies so suddenly, Ona’s pain brings her to mystical Luenah, a place of possibility. There, she discovers she is an Eri, chosen to complete a special purpose on earth and is handed a box in exchange for what she desires the most. The quest now burdening her shoulders, Ona learns that dreams come with a price and no one is who they claim to be. With evil lurking, Ona must find the villain and save the one she loves, even if it means risking it all. At the sudden death of her grandfather, Ona’s pain drives her to mystical Luenah—a place of infinite possibilities. There, she discovers she is an Eri, chosen to accomplish a special purpose on earth, and is handed a box in exchange for what she desires the most.

When You Look Like US by Pamela N. Harris

Jay Murphy knows all too well that when your complexion consists of brown skin, brown eyes, black braids or fades, that people will assume you are trouble. Many people aren’t aware of missing individuals who are black, brown, or colored. Jay’s sister Nicole was one of these people. Jay remembers Nicole being involved with her boyfriend who is a drug dealer and his friends. But she disappeared for too long. Jay remembers the night he hung up on her and regrets it, they could have been spending time with grandma that night. He wishes he can be a better brother and have looked out for her so she could have finished high school and not be on a missing person’s list. Jay Murphy full of regret and guilt is determined to find his sister Nicole and bring her home.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

This novel explores the Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give exploring black boyhood and manhood. Seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows that a real man takes care of his family. The only way he knows how is to deal for the King Lords. Being the son of a former gang legend gives him many responsibilities. With his girlfriend and cousin having his back Maverick feels that everything is under control. When Maverick finds out he is a father, suddenly the baby, Seven, is his top priority. But struggling with drug deals, finishing school, and raising a child, he gets offered an opportunity and takes it. With revenge and responsibility causing difficulty for Maverick, especially after a murder of a loved one. He will have to figure out what it means to be a man.  

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Grace Porter finally completed her PhD in astronomy and decides to go on a girl’s trip to Vegas to celebrate. Being a twenty-eight-year-old over achiever and straight A student, she isn’t one for partying and getting drunk. Until she gets drunk and marries a woman who she does not know, because that is exactly what happens. Being away from her ex-military father, who controls her life, gives Grace a time to reflect on the empty feeling inside when completing her degree. With her father’s expectations constantly on her shoulders, she decides to flee from her home Portland and to go to New York for summer with the wife she barely knows. In New York she can focus on herself and not have to worry about her future. Grace falls hard for her beautiful wife Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes into view, that Grace must face her fears instead of running, will she be able to navigate adulthood in a direction that makes her fulfilled?

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Gabrielle Maya View All →

I am a passionate writer and a bookworm and love to share stories regarding pop culture, entertainment and current events

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