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    17 Books Featuring Black Teens That Everyone Needs To Read At Least Once

    Because young adult novels are forever.

    1. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

    Balzer + Bray

    In the midst of the Civil War, a zombie apocalypse breaks out just days after Jane McKeene is born. In this new America, laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require people like Jane β€” who is Black but the daughter of a wealthy white woman β€” to attend combat training school to become protectors of the elite. But Jane isn't interested in that life β€” until local families begin to go missing. That's when Jane becomes involved in a conspiracy that threatens her life, and suddenly the dead aren't the thing Jane is most worried about.

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

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

    Farrar, Straus and Giroux

    Through personal essays, journalist and activist George M. Johnson recounts growing up as a Black queer boy. From stories of first times to loving anecdotes about his grandmother to harrowing tales dealing with bullies, Johnson creates a personal and emotional memoir that serves as a reassuring guide for other young queer men of color, or as a guide for those looking to be better allies.

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

    3. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

    Quill Tree Books

    Camino lives in the Dominican Republic and waits all year for the day her father comes to visit for the summer. Yahaira lives in New York and always asks her father if she can go with him on his annual business trips. It isn't until he is killed in a devastating plane crash that these sisters realize their beloved father is the same person. Reeling from the truth of their father's secrets, Camino and Yahaira's grief will bring them together.

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

    4. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

    Balzer + Bray

    Felix Love β€” despite his name β€” has never actually been in love. He's definitely tried, but he worries that his identity as a Black, queer, trans man could hold him back from that fairy tale happily ever after. When an anonymous troll deadnames Felix publicly, he plots his revenge, except his plan lands him in the middle of a complicated love triangle. Amid these bubbling feelings arises the need for Felix to think not just about falling in love with someone else β€” but also with himself.

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

    5. Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink

    Feiwel & Friends

    Isaiah is a troublemaker with a secret soft spot for poetry; Angel is a quiet, churchgoing girl with trouble at home. The two teens have very different views on how Black people should forge their future in 1921 Tulsa. When their teacher offers them a job they can't refuse, they'll find they have more in common than they thought. But their differing ideologies β€” and lives β€” will be put to the test on a tragic day in May when a white mob destroys their community and their understanding of the world.

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

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

    Scholastic Press

    Liz has always felt like an outsider in her wealthy and very white small town in Indiana, but she has a plan to escape by heading to an elite college and becoming a doctor β€” that is, until her financial aid suddenly falls through. Her last resort is to compete for a scholarship offered to the prom king and queen. This is Liz's worst nightmare, but luckily the new girl in school, Mack, makes the experience bearable...until Liz's feelings for her begin to interfere with the competition.

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

    7. War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

    Razorbill

    Based on the Nigerian Civil War of the 1960s, War Girls takes place in a futuristic Nigeria β€” 2172, to be exact. Climate change and nuclear war have ravaged the planet, with the rich and elite escaping to space colonies and leaving the rest to fight for resources using flying machinery and bionic suits to protect against radiation. Amid this chaos, sisters Onyii and Ify have only ever known war, suffering, and political unrest. They want more β€” and they're willing to fight for it.

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

    8. Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

    Katherine Tegen Books

    All Enchanted has ever wanted was to sing. So when Korey, a legendary R&B singer, discovers Enchanted at an audition, it seems like her dreams are finally coming true. But Korey quickly changes as his relationship with Enchanted grows, becoming possessive and angry. So when Enchanted wakes up one morning next to Korey's dead body and no memories of the previous night, all fingers point to her. Enchanted has to figure out the truth of what happened, before her dreams die forever.

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

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

    Balzer + Bray

    Inspired by West African folklore, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin follows Malik, a war-torn refugee desperate to save his family, and Karina, a princess mourning the loss of her mother. When Malik's sister is taken by a vengeful spirit, he strikes a deal to assassinate Karina to get her back. Meanwhile, Karina plots to resurrect her mother through ancient magic β€” one that requires the heart of a king, which she'll get by marrying the victor of the upcoming Solstasia competition. When Malik sneaks himself into the competition, their worlds will collide, and they'll have to decide what they're willing to do for their families.

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

    10. Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

    Bloomsbury YA

    Cinderella may have found her Prince 200 years ago, but now girls are required to attend the Annual Ball where they will be chosen to be wives to the men of the kingdom. Bye bye, fairy tales. Sophia, in love with her best friend Erin, decides to flee the ball and runs right into Cinderella's last known descendant. Together, they make a plan to bring down the king's patriarchy, but discover along the way some new details about the famous Cinderella story that make them question everything.

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

    11. Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

    Balzer + Bray

    Tessa has always felt more seen in the romance stories she writes than in her real life. So when she's chosen to attend a creative arts program, she's thrilled β€” until major writer's block hits. Desperate for a story, Tessa's best friend suggests finding her inspiration in a real-life love story. Enter: Nico, the brooding Prince Charming come to life. But as Tessa gets deeper into her "real" love story, she feels less like herself, except when she's with Sam, the sweet boy next door. Tessa's love story might be coming to life β€” but is reality sometimes better than fiction?

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

    12. Slay by Brittney Morris

    Simon Pulse

    Kiera is an honors student at a predominately white high school, but when she gets home, she runs an online game called SLAY, where hundreds of thousands of Black gamers play together as Nubian personas. No one knows Kiera is SLAY's creator, not even her boyfriend, who believes video games are the "downfall of the Black man." But when a teen is murdered over a SLAY dispute, the media labels the game "anti-white" and its players criminals and thugs. Kiera will have to figure out how to save the one place she can be unapologetically Black before it's gone forever.

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

    13. Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

    Balzer + Bray

    Amal Shahid has always had a way with poetry, but as a Black teen, he's demonized both at school and in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. One night, an altercation becomes a tragedy, and Amal is convicted of a crime he didn't commit. In jail, he turns to poetry for comfort, hoping he can rewrite this story society has written for him. Told in verse, this story shows how one boy can maintain his humanity within a system that seeks to strip him of it.

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

    14. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

    Balzer + Bray

    Norris Kaplan is a snarky, cynical Black French Canadian teen who has just been planted at an all-American high school in Austin, Texas β€” what could possibly go wrong? To Norris's surprise, the clichΓ©s in his head β€” like loner Liam, cheerleader Madison, and potential quirky love interest Aarti β€” are actually real people-turned-possible-friends. But when Norris screws up his blossoming friendships on prom night, he realizes that he can't hide behind his sarcastic exterior forever.

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

    15. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

    Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

    Will has just gotten onto an elevator, a gun in his waistband, ready to deal with the murder of his brother the only way he knows how: revenge. But when someone from Will's past β€” a very dead someone β€” gets on at the next floor, Will is transported into a Twilight Zone–esque elevator ride with a lesson waiting at the end. With each floor, someone enters the elevator and alters Will's perspective on his brother's death. Who really did it? What really happened? This entire novel takes place over the course of only 60 seconds, but packs a profound punch you won't forget.

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

    16. Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

    Katherine Tegen Books

    Quadir and Jarrell's best friend Steph may be dead, but they refuse to let his music die with him. Instead, they enlist the help of Steph's little sister, Jasmine, to promote Steph's music under a pseudonym: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is playing his musicΒ β€” including a music rep who is very interested in more. Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine must scramble to keep up their charade, but the truth of what happened to Steph looms over each of them and the secrets they're all hiding. The trio will have to figure out what is most important to them: friends or fame?

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

    17. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

    Hodder Children's Books

    Michael Angeli has never felt "enough" growing up in London with an absent Black father and a Greek mother. Never Black enough, never Greek enough, and β€” eventually β€” never queer enough. But when he discovers drag at university, Michael finally finds a place where he can truly be uniquely himself. Studded with poetry and illustrations, The Black Flamingo shows us what life can look like when we begin to live in bold color.

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

    Have recommendations for books not on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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