Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Susan's Unofficial List of Great YA by or About Women of Color

Not too long ago, I completed a fun exercise about YA literature. I think it said something about being well-read. Well, the list was light on writers of color so I’m offering a list of my own. Put an ‘X’ by what you’ve read, “#” by what books are on your tbr and “!” by books you loved. This list is very short and focused on women writers of color. Feel free to add titles in your comments. The list sorely needs works by Native Americans and Latinas for example.

Susan’s Unofficial List of Great YA by or About Women of Color:

1. When Kambia Elaine Flew In From Neptune by Lori A. Williams
2. Every Time A Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams-Garcia
3. No Laughter Here by Rita Williams-Garcia
4. Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia
5. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

6. The House You Pass On The Way by Jacqueline Woodson
7. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
8. From The Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson
9. Sold by Patricia McCormick
10. Heaven by An Na
11. The Parable of The Sower by Octavia E. Butler
12. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
13. Persepolis by Majane Satrapi
14. The Rock and The River by Kekla Magoon
15. Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins
16. Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis
17. A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
18. Down To The Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole
19. Don’t Get It Twisted by Paula Chase
20. Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson
21. Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper
22. Kendra by Coe Booth
23. Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger
24. Does My Head Look Big In This? By Randa Abdel-Fattah
25. Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
26. Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
27. The Meaning of Conseulo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
28. In The Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
29. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
30. First Part Last by Angela Johnson
31. Pemba’s Song by Marilyn Nelson
32. Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan
33. M + O 4EVR by Tonya Hegamin
34. Lucy The Giant by Sherri L. Smith
35. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
36. Throwaway Piece by Jo Ann Hernandez
37. White Bread Competition by Jo Ann Hernandez
38. Across A Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande
39. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
40. Ash by Malinda Lo
41. The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake

42. Maizon at Blue Hill by Jacqueline Woodson
43. That's What's Up by Paula Chase
44. It Chicks by Tia Williams
45.Indigo Sound by Regina Baiocchi
46. Only Twice I've Wished for Heaven by Dawn Turner Trice
47. The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor


Anonymous said...

Are these in any order?

Color Online said...

No order. Would you like them to be arranged in some way?

The original exercise did not rank books in any order either.

Anonymous said...

Great, great list! I see a bunch of stuff on here that I need to add to my TBR pile.

Color Online said...

Hi biblauragraphy,

Welcome to Color Online. Which ones are you interested in?

Anonymous said...

Well, for example, I was interested in reading some Jacqueline Woodson. Which is your favorite?

Color Online said...

Hi Rhapsody,

I've read a good number of her titles and I featured her for Roll Call.

If You Come Softly really surprised me. I don't normally like teen romance and I wasn't sure how the interracial angle would come off. In short, I was afraid it'd be cheesy. It wasn't. I think it to story has what teens want in a YA romance and it has more for the adult who can appreciate what it was like to be young and in love. The ending blew me away. I hadn't expected it at all.

I really like the character, Staggerlee in The House You Pass On the Way. She is vulnerable, curious, honest and open. She grows. Love, love, love that.

Dear One, has so much I love: different family units, middle class African-American. We aren't monolithic and AA teens want to see a broader spectrum of their experiences.

Anonymous said...

Great little mini reviews - thank you so much!

Color Online said...

:-). You're welcome.

Becca said...

This is a great idea to list here. I am not big on YA lit, but will read some when it catches my eye and doesn't seem too "Sweet Valley High", for instance. I love reading books about other cultures, and people of color include that.

A couple of these are on my TBR list: Sold, The House on Mango Street, and Silver Phoenix. I watched the movie In the Time of Butterflies and loved it, but I don't think I read the book. (I have a bad memory for these things.) Which of these others do you recommend for someone like me who shies away from a lot of YA Lit?

Color Online said...

Hey Rebecca,

I didn't read SV when I was teen. I don't like bubble gum. Bad for the teeth. lol

Seriously, I prefer realistic fiction. And I expect fiction regardless of the genre and age, I expect the work to be well written.

In The Time of The Butterflies is a much better book. I highly recommend it.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. It's not YA but suitable. Also recommend her Parable of Sower.

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott. Yes, we are friends but if her book was not well written I would have quietly avoided talking about it. :-)

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. More a collection of vignettes.

Sold by Patricia McCormick. This is a verse novel. McCormick is actually a white author writing about slave prostitution in Nepal/India.

The Rock and The River by Kekla Magoon. Exceptional prose. Great pacing and dialogue.

I could tell you the strengths of each book but based on what I know of your reading habits, I highly recommend those above.

Happy reading.

Doret said...

My answers are up. Susan, you picked all Woodson books I've never read. Did you do that on purpose?

Color Online said...


Nope. lol

Doret said...

What about The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor

Color Online said...

Wow, the list is showing up elsewhere in the blogoshere.

Now does someone want to tell me why some readers will focus on what's not on the list rather than what they've read?

Did I not say this is an unofficial list? lol

Tayari Jones said...

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
The Friends by Rosa Guy
Zeely by Virgnia Hamilton

These are three by African-American women that just came to my head right away.

Color Online said...

Hi Tayari,

I enjoy your blog except it won't let me comment.

You're dating yourself. Taylor and Hamilton are classic, brilliant writers. They're the writers I grew up reading.

Thanks for weighing in.

And we'll have to feature your work in the near future. I'm proud to say we have The Untelling in our library.

Unknown said...

Urban Soul Warrior by Lalania Simone is a must add to this list! She's brown, and fly, and addressing spirituality in the mayhem of a concrete jungle in her book. Thank you for putting together a fabulous list.

Color Online said...

Hi Celia,

Welcome to Color Online. Thanks for the recommendation. Will definitely check out USW.

susan said...

A must read about book covers from author, Justine Larblastier.

Do read. Do comment

Lucia said...

Hello, this is the first time I've visited your blog, but it hopefully won't be the last one. :D

I'm almost ashamed to admit that the only book from your list I've read is Persepolis, which I've enjoyed immensely. Also, I believe I've read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie before, but not this particular book. I rarely read YA, however, since I like to consider myself a well-rounded educated person, I will have to familiarize myself with it soon. I plan on reading Octavia E. Butler, since I've heard a lot of praise, and thanks to you I will also check out some other writers and books from your list.


P.S. I love YA books written by Justina Chen Headley. :)

Tamora Pierce said...

I hate to be uber-picky, but technically Olivia Butler is an adult writer. (Forgive me. I'm wrung out having searched the I'net all last week for fantasy that does not take place in white, medieval, Europe, and I think my pick-o-meter is still on.) It's a great list--lots of books to track down and read!

Color Online said...

Hi Tamora,

I agree, Butler is an adult writer. I included her because I think her characters and the specific titles I listed are appropriate for older teens.

We have a list of sci-fi by POC writers and you'll want to check out Seeking Avalon's blog.

We have sci-fi writer members here. Check out our writers menu.

Tamora Pierce said...

Thanks for the links--I will pursue! I specified fantasy because the round table I was directing was fantasy-specific. POC dare a bit better represented in sf.

I always get picky about adult authors cited in YA lists as a rule because they tend to get the attention, taking it away from the specialists. The problem, of course, is that fantasy and science fiction are two areas known for YAs/YRs crossing over to adult books. It's a twitch I can never resolve, and I shouldn't be so picky.