Advertisement

23 Phenomenal Young Adult Books By Black Authors From The First Half Of 2020

We're almost halfway through 2020, and one of the good things that has come from it are these YA books.

1. A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison

Inkyard Press, Jennifer Mancuso / Via goodreads.com

Release date: Jan. 7

What it's about: Tyson Trice feels like he doesn't belong after moving to the wealthy town of Pacific Hills. He's recovering from being shot and doesn't care much for anything. Nandy Smith is a golden girl of Pacific Hills, so she isn't exactly thrilled when she hears her family is taking in a troubled teen for the summer. Nandy is so sure her personality will clash with Tyson's — but maybe there's a chance of them getting along? If you love a good enemies-to-lovers trope, you're going to compulsively devour this one.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $14.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

2. Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown

Holt/Ottaviano, echobrown.com

Release date: Jan. 14

What it's about: Brown's heavily biographical magical realism YA novel follows a girl wizard from the East Side who transfers to a rich school on the West Side and slowly comes to terms with what it means to leave a place that made you. Much of the magic of Brown's novel is a metaphor for Black resilience and doesn't shy away from confronting racism and systematic oppression.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $16.49, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

3. Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Bianca Cordova / Via zettaelliott.com

Release date: Jan. 14

What it's about: Say Her Name is a collection of 49 powerful poems inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum and contains topics of police brutality, inequality and injustice, and Black empowerment. Emotional and enlightening, you're not going to want to miss this one.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $18.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

4. Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden

Bloomsbury YA, goodreads.com

Release date: Jan. 14

What it's about: Set in 1919 Washington DC, Bolden writes a story about a privileged Black girl named Savannah who wants to make something of herself. Her perspective on the world begins to shift when she meets Nell, who introduces her to the suffragette and socialist movements, which inspires her to fight for change.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

5. Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Tor, Christina Orlando / Via tochionyebuchi.com

Release date: Jan. 21

What it's about: Set in '92 Los Angeles, Ella has what she called a "Thing" — an ability to see things that haven't yet happened. Her older brother Kev wants to protect Ella from herself, but after he ends up incarcerated, Ella struggles with her ability to confront the past and the future, knowing that a revolution might be the only way toward forward progress.

Get it from Bookshop for $18.39, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

6. Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

Quill Tree Books, lamargiles.com

Release date: Jan. 21

What it's about: When Del inadvertently joins a purity ring club to get closer to his childhood crush Kiera, the last thing he expected was to learn more about himself and what it means to "be a man." Giles creates a poignant and important story of masculinity in our modern era — something everyone can learn from.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $16.49, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

7. Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence by Joel Christian Gill

Oni Press, funent.com

Release date: Jan. 21

What it's about: Joel Christian Gill's dark, raw, and important graphic memoir depicts his coming-of-age story as a Black child who, through a series of events, resorts to violence to solve his problems — and the growth he experiences from it.

Get it from Bookshop for $18.39, Barnes and Noble for $19.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

8. Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Harpercollins, Eric Ireland / Via harpercollins.com

Release date: Feb. 4

What it's about: This is the sequel to Dread Nation. Set in 1880s America, Jane McKeene — slayer of the restless dead — hopes to head west to find her mother. But things don't go as planned, leaving Jane to question everything she thought she knew. With impressive world-building and action-packed plot, Ireland knocks this one out of the park.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.79, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

9. Conquest by Celeste Harte

Immortal Works, Twitter: @celesteharte

Release date: Feb. 4

What it's about: Set in a futuristic society, Jashi Anyua feels like she cannot escape her arranged marriage to the leader of her nation, the Great Faresh. But her soon-to-be husband's enemies offer her a way out. In return for spying on him, she will receive a new identity. But as Jashi gets to know Faresh, she wonders if she's placed her loyalty in the wrong hands.

Get it from Target for $13.39 or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

10. The Blossom and the Firefly by Sherri L. Smith

G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, sherrilsmith.com

Release date: Feb. 18

What it's about: This beautifully crafted historical YA is set in 1945 Japan during World War II. A kamikaze pilot named Taro believes he is ready to die for his country when he agrees to a deadly mission. That is, until he meets Hana. Hana's pain of being buried alive in a collapsed trench during a bomb raid weighs heavy on her to this day, and she wonders if she should have died that day — but then she meets Taro.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

11. The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Inkyard Press, goodreads.com

Release date: Feb. 25

What it's about: This breathtaking sci-fi YA takes place in New York City after an Ilori alien invasion. When all forms of creativity are banned, it doesn't stop 17-year-old Ellie Baker from running a secret illegal library. M0Rr1S (Morris) — an Ilori robot — discovers what Ellie is doing and he knows he should turn her in, but the two end up forming an unexpected bond.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $14.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

12. When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

Delacorte Press, northtexasteenbookfestival.com

Release date: Mar. 10

What it's about: Cleo and Layla used to be best friends. Now they're not. Cleo wants to forget Layla exists, but it's not as easy as she thinks, considering she's assigned to be Layla's tutor. But what happens when Cleo's past comes back to haunt them both? Woodfolk pens a poignant and relatable story about friendships growing apart.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $15.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

13. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, John Boal / Via slj.com

Release date: Mar. 10

What it's about: The reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning has been adapted by Reynolds in a way that's approachable for young minds, discussing the history of racist ideas in America while inspiring hope for an anti-racist future.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.46, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

14. A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope edited by Patrice Caldwell

Viking Books for Young Readers, patricecaldwell.com

Release date: Mar. 10

What it's about: A Phoenix First Must Burn is a collection of short sci-fi stories with moving and important themes, written by bestselling and award-winning Black and gender non-binary authors that center around Black girls.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

15. All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, goodreads.com

Release date: Apr. 28

What it's about: Told through poignant personal essays, George M. Johnson writes about his childhood, bullies, sexual identity, toxic masculinity, family, sex and relationships, and more. This emotional memoir is flawless — a must-read.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $16.49, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

16. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

HarperCollins, kacencallender.com

Release date: May 5

What it's about: Felix is a Black trans boy who has never been in love, yet desperately wants to experience it. He worries his marginalization won't lead him to finding his happily ever after. When a student publicly posts his deadname, Felix seeks revenge — but he doesn't expect his catfishing plan to land him in a quasi–love triangle. This read is perfect for Pride month and takes an important look at identity and the love you deserve.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $18.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

17. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

HarperTeen, acevedowrites.com

Release date: May 5

What it's about: Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira Rios in New York City. Far apart, both suffer the devastating loss of their father after his plane goes down. As both girls enter each other's lives through their grief, they find solace in each other. Told in dual narratives, Acevedo returns with a powerful and emotional story that's both heartbreaking and hopeful.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $15.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

18. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Harpercollins, Hussina Raja / Via sites.google.com

Release date: May 26

What it's about: Bursting with brilliant and powerful prose, Atta's YA verse novel is a coming-of-age story about a mixed-race gay teen who learns to embrace who he truly is when he discovers drag.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

19. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Scholastic Press, Reece T. Williams / Via byleahjohnson.com

Release date: June 2

What it's about: When the scholarship she was counting on to pay for college falls through, Liz must run for prom queen to win a scholarship. However, things get complicated when Liz starts falling for Mack, who is also running for prom queen. Johnson writes an adorable queer rom-com that will leave you in joyful spirits.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

20. A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Tor Teen, goodreads.com

Release date: June 2

What it's about: Set in a mostly white community of Portland, Oregon, Tavia is a siren who must hide her powers as her society is determined to keep her kind under lock and key. Everything seems okay as long as her best friend Effie is by her side. But tensions begin to run high when the aftermath of a siren murder trial rocks the nation and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at a police stop. With a unique premise that parallels our current climate of systemic racism, Morrow knocks this one out of the park.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

21. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Balzer + Bray, roseanneabrown.com

Release date: June 2

What it's about: In this gorgeous YA fantasy inspired by West African folklore, crown princess Karina attempts to use magic to resurrect her assassinated mother. All she requires is the beating heart of a king. She'll offer her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition — a competition that refugee Malick plans to enter. His younger sister has been abducted and for her return, he strikes a deal to kill the princess. But as Karina and Malick's attraction for each other grows, will either be able to go through with their task?

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $18.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

22. This Is What I Know About Art by Kimberly Drew

Penguin Workshop, goodreads.com

Release date: June 2

What it's about: This book is part of the Pocket Change Collective series. In this book, Drew draws on personal experience to reveal how art and protest are inextricably linked.

Also be sure to check out Concrete Kids, Beyond the Gender Binary, and more.

Get it from Bookshop for $8.27, Barnes and Noble for $8.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal

23. All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani

Greenwillow Books, thebrownbookshelf.com

Release date: June 9

What it's about: Two Black teens — Carli and Rex — first lock eyes on a Texas high school basketball court, and they're both well aware the connection is there. The falling part might be easy, but secrets and family issues play a role in breaking them. You're going to have trouble putting this one down once you begin reading.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $18.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

Close this modal Close this modal
Share on Facebook Share on Facebook Share Share on Twitter Share on Twitter Share More More

More like this:

Comments
Unable to load comments. Try reloading this page or viewing the full site. Pop out
Show more Expand

Advertisement