7 YA releases by Black Authors to Look Out for in 2018

February 16, 2018

Every day the fight for greater representation in young adult literature is receiving greater attention and support. Although we haven't yet reached full parity (we're attempting to fix history here), it's incredibly hopeful and heartwarming to see more and more diverse and own voice (books starring diverse or minority protagonists written by authors sharing that identity or experience) novels being released by publishers with full backing from bloggers and readers eager to see themselves and their experiences reflected in literature. 

I am a huge advocate of diverse fiction, whether that diversity comes in form of more diverse portrayals of race, gender, sexuality, or in more diverse portrayals of ability, economic status or body shape. I am 100% here for it! The further we step outside the narrow literary conventions which prioritise the stories of white, economically stable, straight, able-bodied teenagers, the better chance we have of celebrating and achieving a greater understanding of difference - something I view as invaluable. 

There are a huge number of diverse releases set to come out in 2018 (some of which are listed here) but in being half-black, I must confess a huge affinity for novels featuring black protagonists because they represent a side of me I was unable to find in the books I consumed up until I read Angie Thomas's 'The Hate U Give' (haven't heard of this gem? check out my review here), a total game changer! This post also coincides with #BlackHistoryMonth so I thought, what better time to showcase new and upcoming releases by black authors to look out for and support in 2018? In no particular order...enjoy!

1. 'On The Come Up' by Angie Thomas, out June 5.

The highly anticipated second novel from Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give, returns to the world of Garden Heights in a story about Bri, a 16-year-old aspiring rapper. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died right before he hit it big, Bri has massive shoes to fill. But when her mom unexpectedly loses her job, food banks and shut-off notices become as much a part of her life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it — she has to make it. 

2. 'Pride' by Ibi Zoboi, out September 11.

Zuri Benitez, a young woman with four wild sisters is contending with a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister Janae starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius — that is, until they’re forced to find common ground and they start to bond. 

3. 'Children of Blood and Bone' by Tomi Adeyemi, out March 6.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

4. 'The Belles' by Dhonielle Clayton, out February 6.

In the opulent world of Orleans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle's powers can make them beautiful.

Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle - the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family. 

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favourite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers may be far greater - and far darker - than she ever imagined. 

When the queen asks Camellia to break the rules she lives by to save the ailing princess, she faces an impossible decision: protect herself and the way of the Belles, or risk her own life, and change the world forever.

5. 'Tyler Johnson Was Here' by Jay Coles, out March 20.

When Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.

The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean. 

6. 'Dread Nation' by Justina Ireland, out April 3rd.
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

7. 'Let's Talk About Love' by Clare Kann, out Jan 23/Feb 27 (Aus).
Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting--working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual). Alice is done with dating--no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood. 

NOTE: 'Let's Talk About Love' shouldn't be the last on the list because I've actually read this book and oh my goodness, it's just fabulous! I'll be raving about it in a review later this month so stay tuned. 

Leave a comment! Let me know which of these releases you're most excited for or if you've got any more reccommendations to add to the list, I'd love to hear from you <3

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