Celebrating Black History Month is a toast to Blackness, both past, present, and future, in its many nuances and diasporic forms. As you wade in our joyous triumph, reflect on our trying history, marvel at our excellence, and be sure to tarry on the galvanizing force that mortars our community: love. Be it love of community, love of self, or love of others, the right to love freely was and is an actively fought-for freedom in the lives of Black Americans — worthy of the utmost commemoration. This month, celebrate Black love with these unforgettable young adult books.
1. This Wicked Fate
by Kalynn Bayron
This fantasy worldbuilding masterpiece is a sequel that follows book one, This Poison Heart. In this second iteration, the story picks up with Briseis searching for the final piece of the notoriously deadly Absyrtus Heart to bring back her mother from the Underworld, which means connecting with familial roots she knows very little about and exploring her own legacy in the process.
2. Within These Wicked Walls
by Lauren Blackwood
This is a deliciously dark and creepy Ethiopian-inspired romantic retelling of Jane Eyre with a pop of grim humor. Andromeda, an exorcist, is hired by a demanding young heir, Magnus Rochester, only to learn that he’s cursed and death awaits her and him both if she remains in the position. Only, she’s fallen in love with him, so leaving isn’t as easy as it should be.
3. Instructions for Dancing
by Nicola Yoon
This swoony, deeply moving story is about Evie Thomas, who doesn’t believe in love. When she has a vision of how a random couple’s romance will begin…and end, she’s haunted by the odd occurrence. Deadset convinced that love only ends in heartbreak, she perplexingly finds herself pulled into the orbit of a boy named X in her dance classes forcing her to ponder whether love is worth the risk.
4. A Love Hate Thing
by Whitney D. Grandison
This enemies-to-lovers tale delivers a thought-provoking take on the trope about Tyson Trice, who is removed from his family after a personal tragedy that almost killed him, and sent to live with a wealthy family where nothing is as he expected. Nandy Smith is equally surprised that she has a whole new person living in her house. Amidst their bickering, walls come down and love grows.
5. When the Stars Lead to You
by Ronni Davis
This heartwarming, emotional story is about biracial Devon, whose first love romance with Ashton ended when he abruptly disappeared, leaving her deeply scarred. Over the next year, she put herself back together and focused on her studies, only for him to show up and blow everything out of the water. She longs to give love another chance, but at what cost?
6. We Deserve Monuments
by Jas Hammonds
This deeply compelling mystery-filled love story is about Avery, who is forced to go to live with her terminally ill grandmother. As tensions implode and long-buried family secrets resurface, Avery grapples with questions about a dark truth her family is hiding. But she finds solace in her new neighbor Simone, whose friendship is quickly blossoming into romance.
by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and, Nicola Yoon
Blackout is one story told through several interconnected narratives by varying points of view about one sweltering summer night that knocks the power out in New York City. In the darkness, drama unfolds, truths are exposed, and new possibilities surface between a community of friends and neighbors. Love shines in the darkest of places.
8. The Kindred
by Alechia Dow
This sci-fi romance is an action-packed story about Joy and Duke, two best friends — one a royal, one a commoner — who can hear each other’s thoughts thanks to the Kindred Program on their planet. When the royal family is assassinated, an escape plan ends in a crash landing in Florida and an endearing friends-to-lovers tale ensues about believing in ourselves, embracing our worthiness, and realizing the power of love to change the world.
9. Love Times Infinity
by Lane Clarke
Michie is having a hard time with her college essays, which require her to explain who she is and who she wants to be — questions she’s grappled with since childhood thanks to her estranged mother. She meets Derek, who helps her realize more about herself when her mother comes back into her life. With her college essays looming, Michie has questions to answer, decisions to make about who she is, and whether in all of this love is worth taking a risk on.
10. Finding Jupiter
by Kelis Rowe
This summer love romance plays with structure, featuring found art throughout, which makes it an immersively fresh read. The story follows Jupiter, who is home in Memphis from boarding school one summer. She believes she is not a girl to love, and she’s OK with that. However, Orion, the swimming athlete neighbor down the street, disagrees and is entirely taken with her. As their worlds collide, Jupiter lets down her guard, and sparks fly. But tangled secrets from both their pasts come back threatening to tear their sweet summer love apart.
11. Odd One Out
by Nic Stone
This compulsively delicious romance about first love and friendship follows Coop and Jupe. Then, enters Rae, who is trying to find her footing as the new girl in town and the new girl in their friendship trio. As she settles in, romance blooms between her and Coop. But Jupe can’t help but face feelings she has, too — for Coop. Love triangle deliciousness unfolds, woven with a bold, affirming narrative about unapologetically declaring who we are and who we want to love.
12. Nothing Burns as Bright as You
by Ashley Woodfolk
A beautiful story told in verse and in a varied timeline about queer love, female friendships, and surviving breakups. This story is as emotionally moving as it is affirming.
13. Rise to the Sun
by Leah Johnson
This heartwarming story is about Olivia, who intends to turn over a new leaf after a series of failed relationships. She meets Toni at a music and art festival, and the two join forces for an unforgettable weekend where they learn they need music and each other more than either of them realized.
14. A Psalm of Storms & Silence
by Roseanne A. Brown
This thrilling fantasy adventure picks up after book one, A Song of Wraith and Ruin. Karina has lost her kingdom and her throne but sets her sights on reclaiming what’s hers, which requires a power hidden in the city of her long-lost ancestors. Meanwhile, peace is buckling after Karina’s sister’s resurrection. Malik is forced to use his magic to lure Karina — who he once tried to kill — back to their side as she is the key to restoring the peace. Once again these two are torn between love and duty, and it’s absolutely delectable to watch unfold.
15. Love Radio
by Ebony LaDelle
Prince Jones has all the answers, and on his hip-hop show segment on the radio he gives it out as advice to the heartbroken. His own love story, however, is on hold because of his ailing mom and a little brother he cares for. Until he meets Dani Ford who makes him want to put his own dream of love front and center. But she’s 100% focused on preparing for college. Still, she gives Prince three dates to prove he’s worth falling for.
16. Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl
by Joya Goffney
This Southern love story is about Monique, a preacher’s daughter, who is tired of the pressure from her religion to not have sex before marriage. When she learns she can’t physically have sex, she teams up with a friend from church who is very knowledgeable about her condition and the “misunderstood bad boy” at church, and together the trio set out to find a cure — which leads to a journey of self-discovery, reclaiming her body, and truly loving herself.
17. Zyla & Kai
by Kristina Forest
This sweet love story with a dash of mystery is told in alternating past and present timelines, which are about recently broken-up high school seniors Zyla and Kai, who run away together during a senior trip in the mountains. Did they break up? Why? The story weaves back and forth, braiding a tale of finding our people and choosing our next adventure.
18. A Girl’s Guide to Love & Magic
by Debbie Rigaud
This upbeat, rich story is about Haitian American Cicely Destin, who is having a blast at the West Indian Day Parade with her aunt Mimose. But when her aunt's Vodou dabbling turns a little too real, she appears possessed, and Cicely, her friend Renee, and her crush (!) Kwame are left to puzzle out a scavenger hunt through Brooklyn to undo the curse.
19. One True Loves
by Elise Bryant
This delightfully irresistible love story is about Lenore Bennett, former fashion icon at her high school, now NYU-bound as undeclared and completely unsure what she wants to do with her life, what she’s looking for. But when she embarks on a Mediterranean cruise, she meets Alex Lee, a golden boy, who has the next 10 years of his life planned out. She’s intimidated, but as they get to know each other, she wonders if perhaps he may be able to help Lenore find a bit of what she’s been looking for.
Make sure you head here for more of our Black History Month coverage!