YA books by black authors image: cover of The Gilded Ones

The Most-Anticipated YA Books by Black Authors

It’s impossible to have missed what’s happening in America.

Rebellions against police brutality are happening across the states. What black people face daily is tragic, horrific and unnecessary.

But through all this, I’ve learned something new: anti-racism. It’s not enough to not be racist. You have to fight against it, actively and continuously.

That means standing up for people of colour and drawing attention to disparities when you see them.

In the book world, this has spawned the hashtag #PublishingPaidMe on Twitter, highlighting the difference in advances paid to authors of different races.

I’m not saying it’s enough to share your figures in a hashtag and say that you’re actively fighting racism, but it’s a start. And similarly, this is me making a start.

I’ve gone through book releases due for the next year and found nine YA books that sound incredible from authors of colour. They range from feminist fantasy to rom-com and should all be on your TBR.

All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani

A glance was all it took. That kind of connection, the immediate and raw understanding of another person, just doesn’t come along very often.

When Carli and Rex first saw each other on their Texas high school basketball court, they both knew it was destiny. But in this story of love and betrayal,  will their family secrets keep these teens apart?

Pub date: June 9th, 2020

The Voting Booth written in between a cartoon drawing of two teenagers

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

When political activist Marva sees Duke get turned away from the polling station, this pair of teenage strangers work together to fix it.

But as they fight against a rigged system, there’s more to their connection than a shared missionor democracy.

Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can’t sit around waiting for the world to change – but some things are just meant to be.

Pub date: July 07th, 2020

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raised by an often absent mother, Tarisai longs for the warmth of a family. As she competes to be one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11, she knows that if chosen, she and her fellow council members will be joined by a bond deeper than blood.

But her mother has set a magical wish into play – Tarisai must kill the Crown Prince. Is she strong enough to fight against her mother’s wishes and choose her own path?

Pub date: August 18th, 2020

Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest

Just like her grandma, Evie’s on the road to being Hollywood’s next big thing. But when a close friend’s betrayal blacklists her, Evie knows how to save herself: a public appearance with America’s most beloved actress – her recluse of a grandma.

But when Grandma disappears days before their appearance together, Evie has to enlist musician Milo’s help. In an adventure full of romance across New York City, Evie will make some surprising discoveries about her grandma – and herself.

Pub date: August 25th, 2020

Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Amal has always been an artist and a poet. But when he’s imprisoned after a wrongful conviction, he’s full of despair and rage. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

With spellbinding lyricism, this novel in verse follows this teenager’s fight against an unjust system.

Pub date: September 1st, 2020 

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Star debater and expert charmer, Henri is a first-generation Haitian teen. By day he’s a trusted dog-walker for his wealthy neighbours but by night, he’s dreaming of heading to Columbia University.

But when his classmate Corinne discovers he’s scheming his neighbours with his dog-walking, she offers him a trade. In exchange for making her more popular at school, Corinne will keep Henri’s secret. In this sharply funny novel, the duos hustle turns into something bigger than either of them bargained for.

Pub date: September 8th, 2020

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

In this groundbreaking mystery, Grown examines rape culture and the vulnerability of young black girls. 

When legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots Enchanted at an audition, her dreams of becoming a singer take flight. Until Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night.

But behind Korey’s charm and star power was a controlling dark side. Now he’s dead, the police are at the door, and all signs point to Enchanted.

Pub date: September 15th, 2020

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

In this feminist fantasy series, girls are outcasts by blood and warriors by choice. Sixteen-year-old Deka prays for red blood so she can become a member of her village.

But when she’s deemed impure at the ceremony for golden blood, Deka faces a fate worse than death. A mysterious woman approaches her with a choice: stay in the village or fight for the emperor in an army of gifted girls.

Pub date: February 09th, 2021

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

17-year-old Devon and Chiamaka are rivals at Niveus Private Academy, but when anonymous texter ‘Aces’ starts spreading their secrets, they are forced to team up and uncover their identity.

However, what they find extends past a high school game of mean girls as Devon and Chiamaka find themselves at the centre of a disturbing game.

Pub date: 2021

What’s next?

Do not stop protesting.

Do not stop donating.

Do not stop sharing and signing petitions.

Do not forget Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Amiya Braxton, Tony McDade or Ahmued Arbery.

If we stop, if we forget, the cause loses momentum and everything goes back to square one.

Champion black voices. Share their words and experiences.

If you are white, do not talk over them. Listen and raise people of colour up.

The world is broken and now, it’s up to us to fix it.

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