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    37 Must-Read YA Books By Black Authors That Come Out The First Half Of This Year

    This is a sampling of books by Black authors to look out for if you love YA!

    1. The Life I’m In by Sharon G. Flake

    Scholastic, sharongflake.com

    Release date: Jan. 5

    What it's about: In this follow-up to the Coretta Scott King Award–winning bestseller The Skin I'm In, Flake takes us through Charlese Jones' journey. Teenage Charlese falls victim to human trafficking, and it takes every bit of her strength and determination to come out on the other side. Flake tackles this difficult and heavy topic in a compassionate manner, examining how surviving hardship shapes people.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    2. When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris

    Quill Tree Books, pamharriswrites.com

    Release date: Jan. 5

    What it's about: Jay Murphy lives in a neighborhood where Black girls' disappearances are often overlooked. When his sister Nicole goes missing, Jay struggles with guilt and uncertainty. Should he have done something sooner? So when the police fail him, Jay is determined to uncover what happened for himself. Thought-provoking and profound, Jay's story will stay with you long after you finish.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    3. One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

    Inkyard Press, maikaandmaritza.com

    Release date: Jan. 5

    Why we're excited: When teen activist Kezi Smith is mysteriously killed at a social justice rally, her sister Happi and the rest of her family are led to believe that she was another victim in the fight against police brutality. Kezi's sisters set out on a road trip using The Negro Motorist Green Book to honor her, all while uncovering the true nature of Kezi's death. In this powerful contemporary novel, Maika and Maritza unearth the complexities of racial injustice.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    4. Roman & Jewel by Dana L. Davis

    Inkyard Press, danaldavis.com

    Release date: Jan. 5

    What it's about: Davis pens a Romeo and Juliet–inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. Jerzie is aiming for the female leading role, but she's crushed when she only lands understudy. But when an entanglement with Zepp — who's playing Roman — leads to the whole world seeing a viral video, the people decide to speak on whom they want to play Jewel.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    5. Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

    Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, elisebryant.com

    Release date: Jan. 5

    What it's about: Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has been accepted into a creative writing program, and while she loves crafting stories, she has never seen herself as the protagonist in the romance novels she reads. That's when her BFF steps in with romance novel–inspired steps to a happily ever after. But the more Tessa follows this guide, the further she feels from her true self. Also? There might just be something there with the boy next door, Sam.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    6. Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne

    Crown Books for Young Readers, mobrowne.com

    Release date: Jan. 12

    What it's about: This is a stunning coming-of-age verse novel about friendship and figuring out who you are and where you fit in. Chlorine Sky follows a girl who steps out of the shadow of her best friend while discovering what it means to be your own person.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    7. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

    Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, angiethomas.com

    Release date: Jan. 12

    What it's about: In Concrete Rose, set 17 years before the events of The Hate U Give, Maverick Carter deals for the King Lords in order to help his overworked mother while his father is in prison, but everything changes when Mav finds out he's going to be a father. When he gets an opportunity to go straight, he's determined to amount to something. But escaping gang roots isn't easy as loyalty and revenge threaten to break Mav.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    8. The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson

    Simon & Schuster, Brielle Loughney / Via simonandschuster.com

    Release date: Jan. 12

    Why we're excited: Pitched as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets Save the Date, this YA contemporary follows Mia, whose older sister is getting married, so Mia is tasked with having to find a date for the wedding. Inspired by all the rom-coms her friends love, she sets out to (hopefully) create a meet-cute for herself.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    9. Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

    Tor, goodreads.com

    Release date: Jan. 19

    What it's about: In Okorafor's sci-fi novella set in near-future Ghana, Sankofa is Death's adopted daughter, who, with new abilities, struggles to find her place in the world while feeling ostracized for being different. This quick, fast-paced story is perfect for the reader looking to escape into a new world.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    10. Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

    Atheneum Books, Tom Kates / Via desmondhallauthor.com

    Release date: Jan. 19

    What it's about: This YA contemporary is pitched as American Street meets Long Way Down. Frankie joins his uncle's gang in exchange for their paying his father's medical bills after he's shot, even though Frankie has received a scholarship that would give him a future outside of Jamaica.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    11. Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

    Denene Millner Books / Simon & Schuster Books, authorjelle.com

    Release date: Jan. 26

    What it's about: Sink into a fantastic world that features gods and a girl who must save the world in this New York Times bestselling fantasy novel. Rue's life in Houston changes when her mother is murdered and her estranged father takes her to Ghazan, a secret country of gods, away from her sister. In Ghazan, Rue is different: She is half god, half human, and she discovers that the leaders of this secret country thrive on human suffering. But when Rue escapes back to Houston, she finds it in chaos, and worse, there's evil plaguing her neighborhood of East Row. Will Rue be able to embrace her powers before everything she loves is gone?

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    12. Muted by Tami Charles

    Scholastic Press, tamiwrites.com

    Release date: Feb. 2

    What it's about: Seventeen-year-old Denver is ready to leave her small, white town and achieve her dreams of writing and performing. When Denver and her two BFFs meet R&B star Sean "Mercury" Ellis, he introduces her to the lavish music world: recording studios, parties, connections. But Denver's dream turns nightmarish when she comes to learn she's trapped in the dark underbelly of the music industry. Inspired by true events, this contemporary YA is layered, complex, and thought-provoking.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    13. A Crown So Cursed by L.L. McKinney

    Feiwel & Friends, us.macmillan.com

    Release date: Feb. 1

    What it's about: This is the third book in McKinney's thrilling Nightmare-Verse series. Alice is having dreams of a dark past and future and soon discovers that evil still lurks in Wonderland. With an encroaching army of Nightmares, it's up to Alice to save the mortal world from darkness.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    14. Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson

    Sourcebooks Fire, Sara Nicole Lemon / Via kosokojackson.com

    Release date: Feb. 2

    What it's about: Jackson's debut is a brilliant novel for fans of time travel. After Andre Cobb receives a liver transplant, he gains the unexpected gift of time travel, which is how he's dropped into 1969 and ends up making a connection with a boy named Michael. Torn between present and past, Andre must find out where he belongs.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    15. Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson

    Bloomsbury YA, Shawnte Sims / Via reneewatson.net

    Release date: Feb. 2

    What it's about: In this important story about self-love, Nala falls fast for the MC at her cousin's open mic — an activist named Tye. Tye plans to spend his summer putting on events for the community, and in order to impress him, Nala begins telling a few tiny white lies. But, of course, these lies begin to catch up with her the closer she and Tye become.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    16. The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

    Delacorte Press, goodreads.com

    Release date: Feb. 9

    What it's about: Get ready to immerse yourself in this dazzling, lush, West African high-fantasy (and New York Times bestselling!) novel. In 16-year-old Deka's village, a blood ceremony is performed to find those worthy of becoming a member of the village. Those with red blood are deemed worthy, while those with gold blood face terrible consequences. When Deka's blood is found to run gold, she is treated as a demon — until a woman frees her. Deka is introduced as an alaki, those blessed with a rare gift that can stop the empire's enemies. Now, despite many dangers that lie ahead, Deka must prepare for a battle to save the empire.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    17. Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

    Harperteen, Aaron Gang / Via renabarron.com

    Release date: Feb. 16

    What it's about: In this sequel to the compelling fantasy Kingdom of Souls, we find out what's next for Arrah. She's the last surviving witch doctor, and her kingdom is in shambles. She decides to return to the tribal lands in search of her parents' people, but her connection to the Demon King isn't something she can fully escape.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    18. Some Other Now by Sarah Everett

    Houghton Mifflin, thebrownbookshelf.com

    Release date: Feb. 23

    What it's about: In this delicate and insightful YA contemporary novel, 17-year-old Jessi spent her childhood at the house next door with two brothers, Luke and Rowan — until everything fell apart. Now the boys' mother, Mel, is in remission, Rowan is gone, and Luke holds a lot of anger toward Jessi. But when Jessi pretends to be Luke's girlfriend for the final months of Mel's life, she'll have to navigate rocky waters.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    19. Like Home by Louisa Onomé

    Penguin, Linda Arki / Via louisaonome.com

    Release date: Feb. 23

    What it's about: Nelo loves her neighborhood, Ginger East, but after a deadly incident at the local arcade, things changed. Nelo's friends moved away — well, except for her BFF Kate. But when Kate's parents' corner store is vandalized, the police and media are quick to point fingers. And as the incident gains national attention, Nelo finds herself at the center of the drama. Worse, her friendship with Kate is growing distant. Will things ever go back to the way they were?

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    20. Bruised by Tanya Boteju

    Simon & Schuster, Greg Ehlers / Via tanyaboteju.com

    Release date: March 23

    Why we're excited: This coming-of-age story has been compared to Whip It, so get ready for some Roller Derby action. Daya immerses herself in the world of Roller Derby to escape the mental pain and anguish of losing her parents. There she finds clarity and an unexpected family.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    21. The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, authorbrittneymorris.com

    Release date: April 6

    What it's about: In The Cost of Knowing, pitched as Dear Martin meets They Both Die at the End, 16-year-old Alex Rufus puts a ton of pressure on himself to be the best — but Alex has a secret. Every time he touches an object, he sees into its future. It makes it a little hard for him to live in the present. But when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s death, everything changes. Alex must do whatever he can to prevent it.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    22. Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

    Harperteen, ciannonsmart.com

    Release date: April 20

    What it's about: In this immersive Jamaican-inspired YA fantasy, Jazmyne, the queen's daughter, refuses to die to strengthen her mother's power. Meanwhile, Iraya has spent her life imprisoned. When these two witches enter an alliance to take down a mutual threat, they don't expect the dangerous and deadly lengths they'll have to go to in order to succeed.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    23. Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

    HarperTeen / Via goodreads.com

    Release date: May 4

    Why we're excited: When Quinn's notebook goes missing, a blackmailer posts her list of fears on Instagram for the world to see. Quinn must face these fears or risk the rest of her journal going public. She teams up with the last person she knew to have her notebook in order to track down the blackmailer, taking a journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face. This YA contemporary is a layered look at what it means to be brave.

    Get it from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    24. Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield

    Wednesday Books, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

    Release date: May 4

    What it's about: The actor who plays Melody Jones on Riverdale pens a moving story about self-discovery. When Tilla has the chance to spend her summer in Jamaica, she wonders if this is an opportunity to know her father better. What she doesn't expect is to face an impending hurricane and unexpected secrets that upend her life.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    25. Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

    Balzer & Bray / Harperteen, Robert Yeates / Via harpercollins.com

    Release date: May 11

    What it's about: In this YA contemporary romance inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, we follow Reyna — who has spent her life at her family’s seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. Aiden, her first love, has left to pursue his dreams of a career in music. But Reyna must ultimately face Aiden when he returns to Tobago with his Grammy, his success, and a new romance.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    26. Off the Record by Camryn Garrett

    Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, LOUISA WELLS / Via camryngarrett.com

    Release date: May 18

    What it's about: Garrett's newest YA contemporary has big Almost Famous vibes with a timely nod to the #MeToo movement. Teen journalist Josie Wright gets the opportunity to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine but quickly becomes overwhelmed when a young female actor lets her in on a terrible secret. Does she expose the man responsible or protect her career?

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    27. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

    Delacorte Press, nicolayoon.com

    Release date: June 1

    What it's about: Yoon's newest contemporary novel comes with a supernatural twist. Evie Thomas believes that love stories realistically end with a broken heart. That viewpoint is challenged when she meets a boy named X and comes into a mysterious ability. (You can read an excerpt here!)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    28. Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

    Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, faridahabikeiyimide.com

    Release date: June 1

    What it's about: Àbíké-Íyímídé's debut thriller has some strong Gossip Girl vibes and a whole lot of mystery. Devon and Chiamaka, students in Niveus Private Academy, harbor dark secrets — secrets that an anonymous texter called Aces threatens to expose. Who has it out for them? And why?

    Get it from Bookshop or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    29. A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

    Tor Teen, bethanycmorrow.com

    Release date: June 1

    Wha t it's about: Don't miss this next empowering story — full of magic and heart — from Morrow. Naema Bradshaw is an Eloko, a charismatic person gifted with a melody that people adore. But not everyone adores her, especially after she exposed a Siren to the whole world. Vilified and outcast, Naema returns to the Southwest, where she finds a new community. But when that community begins targeting other Black girls, Naema is forced to confront her privilege of fame.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    30. Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud

    Scholastic Press, Twitter: @debbierigaud

    Release date: June 1

    Why we're excited: Rigaud's #OwnVoices rom-com is a delightful mix of Never Have I Ever and You Should See Me in a Crown. Simone Thibodeaux's strict Haitian immigrant parents will allow her to go to prom, under one condition: They pick her date. Recovering from this humiliating rule, Simone decides to create a list — a Senior Year Bucket List, to be exact. She and her friends will cross off things they haven't had a chance to do (like sneaking out). But as the list becomes more complex, Simone has to figure out which rules are really worth breaking.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    31. Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

    Margaret K. McElderry Books, lisellesambury.ca

    Release date: June 15

    What it's about: This dark urban fantasy is being released this summer, and if you're a lover of any and all books with magic, definitely keep your eye out for this one. Teen witch Voya Thomas is tasked with killing her first love in order to pass her Calling — a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers. If she doesn't, she will be stripped of her magic. The problem? Voya has never been in love, so she turns to a genetic matchmaking program to find her first.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    32. Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

    Quill Tree Books, egmontbooks.co.uk

    Release date: June 22

    What it's about: Not one, not two, but six bestselling and award-winning authors come together to write a moving story of Black teen love, set against the backdrop of New York City in the summer. We follow multiple teens' journeys through love and pain in the midst of a blackout.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    33. This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

    Bloomsbury, kalynnbayron.com

    Release date: June 29

    What it's about: If you loved Cinderella Is Dead, don't miss Bayron's next contemporary fantasy novel! Briseis has the gift of blooming plants with a single touch. After her aunt passes, her family decides to spend the summer in rural New York on her aunt's estate. There, Briseis might be able to work on controlling her gift. But then she befriends a mysterious young woman who seems to know dark secrets about the history of her aunt's estate and its surrounding community...

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    34. Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

    Scholastic, Reece T. Williams / Via reecetwilliams.photo

    Release date: July 6

    What it's about: The author of You Should See Me in a Crown — a Reese Witherspoon book club pick — returns with a new YA contemporary this summer. Toni and Olivia, each broken in their own way, are brought into each other's life at Farmland Music and Arts Festival. But when something at the festival goes awry, the two learn just how much they'll need each other.

    Get it from Bookshop or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    35. The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davis

    Tor Teen, goodreads.com

    Release date: Aug. 10

    What it's about: This is the sequel to The Good Luck Girls, an Old West–set fantasy adventure. Aster remains in Arketta, helping to free more girls, while her sister and friends stay across the border in Ferron. When an unexpected reunion grows into a plan to free all dustbloods — prisoners of Arketta's landmasters and debt slavery — they join together as fighters for freedom.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    36. (Me) Moth by Amber McBride

    Feiwel & Friends, goodreads.com

    Release date: Aug. 17

    What it's about: After losing her family in a tragic accident, Moth feels uprooted and alone. Then she meets Sani, a boy who is searching for his roots and answers for his ongoing depression. If Moth can help him, perhaps each of them can move forward.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local indie through Indiebound here.

    37. Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles

    Scholastic, goodreads.com

    Release date: Sept. 21

    What it's about: Coles' newest YA contemporary novel focuses on forgiveness and the complexities of love. Gio's birth mother returns after eight years, just when he feels as if he's getting his life together. To further complicate things, he's unsure of his feelings toward David — a new guy on his basketball team. Navigating trust in family and in romance is tough, especially when Gio is unsure what he wants.

    Get it from Bookshop or your local indie through Indiebound here.

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