I don’t often post non-ARCs reviews on the blog (mostly for lack of time!), but I really wanted to talk more about all the amazing books by black authors I have read this month, as for me it’s a way to support black voices! So I decided to do these mini-reviews of the titles I have read in June (+ an early July one), and I hope it will make you curious and give all these authors a try!
Also, I would of course suggest you to check reviews of these books by Black reviewers! You can for example go look at Bowtiesandbooks, literaryxqueen or Chanelletime !
All boys aren’t blue – George M Johnson (non-fiction, queer): this one was SO GOOD. The author (who also narrates the audiobook so I definitely recommend you trying it that way!) does not hide from his struggles and his joys, all through the book. This memoir felt so honest and raw in a way, it is impossible not to love it! It was my first non-fiction with a trans narrator and it helped me understand a lot of things, or dive deeper into what I already knew. Not to say that it is there for this sole purpose, not at all, but when someone tells you their life like that, it’s just so inspiring and humbling at the same time. And I hope if you read it, it will make you think too, and come enrich your vision of the world and other people.
The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo (fiction): this one. OMG. I don’t have the words… the free slam was SO POWERFUL. It was my first book in verse and what a first! I had tears and so many feels while reading it, understanding Xiomara and her life, her fears and her strengths. It was beautiful and so well written, to talk about what it is to be a black girl, to be raised in a religious family, and to have the world trying to blow your light of, but still, resisting and fighting. I recommend it to everyone!
Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender (fiction, queer): another one that took me out of my comfort zone! This month, I wanted to learn and understand more about non-binary and transgender people. Felix Ever After was simply incredible when it comes to showing what like can be life when you are trans, the struggles and all the thoughts and doubts about your identity and who you are, but also the joys and good moments. That’s what I liked about this book, it gets us to realize what it can be to be a trans teen, and the specific struggles or experiences one can face, but also what it is to be a teen, to fall in love, to want to build a future. Felix was not defined just by being a trans boy, we saw other aspects of his life, and I think that this is super important too: someone is not just one thing, someone is not defined by their struggles only, and we have to see them as a whole. This book was full of black joy too (and that’s what I was looking for in my reads for the queer blackathon that happened on Juneteenth), and I absolutely recommend you to read it this Summer! My only issue with it was a bit too much of teen drama sometimes but that’s probably just me getting old haha!
The Black Flamingo -Dean Atta (non-fiction, queer) : If i really thought the narrator brought an interesting POV, as a black gay man, I was not as captivated with his story as for example in All boys aren’t blue, and the verse did not speak to me as The Poet X did. It was still good and enriching my perspective and knowledge on what it is to be black and queer, bringing to the table different themes, as it happens in UK, but also for example by talking about being openly gay at school or being mixed, and I’ll make sure to keep my eyes on any future work of the author. I will say though that there were some incredible lines of poetry in this book, so powerful and beautiful! I took notes haha
So you want to talk about race?– Ijeoma Oluo (non-fiction): this one is SO important and a good introduction for people who don’t necessarily realize all the forms racism can take in our daily life. If you want to educate yourself on the matter and improve the ways you can be an ally to black people, this is a must-read!
You should see me in a crown – Leah Johnson (fiction, queer) : This month I have read nonfiction, I have read books in verse, and I also wanted to read queer fiction books by black authors. When I spotted You should see me in a crown, it sounded so joyful that I knew it would be one of the books I’d read. And I did, and it was everything I expected: cute, with a F/F romance, during a competition to be prom queen… but it also talked about grief and systemic racism. It was not the main point of the book, but it was there, a reminder that we can’t forget it or pretend it does not exist. X is black and queer, and more of an introvert. All through the book, she will sort of come out of the shell she built to protect herself, and realize that she has a voice and can use it. And I think in a way, she finds back some of her trust in the world too. This book was full of love and hope, in many different forms, and it is also one you will want to add to your TBR!
Clap when you land– Elizabeth Acevedo (fiction, queer): here again, Elizabeth Acevedo does magic, with how she tells us of these two sisters, sharing a dad but not much else: one in the States, one in the Dominican Republic. Both grieving and discovering that each other exist. Camino really had me sweating, with the danger she is exposed to, just by being a young girl in DR, without a “man” to protect her, and with a future that seems pretty incertain. Yahaira was so different in some ways, being raised in New York, having a girlfriend, and still, she also had been exposed to the violence of men. I think that’s what I love with Acevedo, she shows us all the depth of human souls, the good and the bad, she does not hide how women are so often seen as sexual objects and can be victims because of how our society treats women, especially women of colors. But still, her characters rise, they should not have to face this suffering and trauma, but Acevedo shows us that no matter what happens to them, they are more than that, so much richer and full of potential and strong. Yup, I’m in love.
Dear Martin – Nic Stone (fiction, queer author): I actually read this one early July but what are a few days right? Dear Martin is a short book but it manages to address so many things, from people thinking affirmative action is a prejudicing white people, to police profiling, being black and dating a white person, and even how to be an ally. It is packed with intense moments, and if I wished for more details and descriptions sometimes, this book is still incredible. Justyce was such a beautiful character, and Nic Stone made his struggles (and hormones!) so reliable, it is impossible not to be empathic and want to take action when reading this book! Plus the fact that there are letters to Martin Luther King Jr included in the narration add something else to it, helping us dive even more in Justyce’s mind! Another must-read!
Here are the books by black authors I have read in the last weeks, and I appreciated all of them and recommend you add them to your TBR!
Which books by black authors have you read lately? Are you trying to include them more in your TBR? and more BIPOC/queer/OwnVoices authors in your TBR?
See you for a cup,