Diverse YA Fiction to Watch for in 2019
‘Tis the season of dreaming about all the books we’d like to give and receive for the holidays! In the spirit of wish lists and adding to our own reading lists for the new year, I’ve compiled a list of the top YA books to anticipate in 2019. Because books serve as windows and mirrors for our students, each of these titles represent the lives of the diverse populations we’re serving in schools across the nations. Not only do all students deserve to see themselves in the books in our classroom libraries, but all students deserve to read about diverse experiences to broaden their perspectives. Here are a few great reads to look out for in 2019:
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America is a must-add for your 9-12 classroom library. What does it mean to be black? This collection pulls together a diverse collection of young black voices in America, representative of nerds, LGBTQ, immigrants, and more. With this diverse collection, students will see windows into worlds they may never have experienced, dismantling stereotypes. The publisher description reads, ”Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more–because there are countless ways to be Black enough.”
The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante is a timely novel in exploration of an immigrant’s experiences while coming to the United States. This novel combines the expectations, journey, and disappointment of 17-year-old Marisol with a fantastical element. While Marisol had dreamed of being America based on her favorite American TV show, she never thought her brother would be murdered and her younger sister’s life would be in jeopardy. She never expected that her only hope would be to flee her home in El Salvador, risk her life, and enter the United States as an illegal immigrant. When Gabi is caught crossing the border, she knows her asylum request will be denied. The only way she can remain in the United States is if she becomes a grief keeper in an experimental study in taking the grief of another in order to save a life. The publisher description reads, ”The Grief Keeper is a tender tale that explores the heartbreak and consequences of when both love and human beings are branded illegal.”
Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan explores what it’s like to feel unwelcome in your own culture. Born to conservative Muslim parents, Rukhsana keeps her girlfriend, Adriana, a secret from her parents. When Rukhsana’s parents catch Rukhsana and Adriana together, they send her to stay with her extended family in Bangladesh where she is surrounded by intolerance. When Rukhsana finds her grandmother’s diary, she finds the courage stand up for herself while fighting for love.
In an exploration of freedom of speech and the challenges of growing up black and poor, Angie Thomas’s new title On the Come Up follows Bri in her fight to make it as an up and coming rapper. With the pressure of filling the shoes of her father, an underground hip hop legend who died before he hit it big, and the challenges of being labeled a hoodlum while living on an empty stomach after mom loses her job, Bri is filled with anger and frustration. Her built up rage is poured into her first song which goes viral, causing the media to portray her as a menace. The publisher description reads, “Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.”
Here are some more titles. Click on the title to learn more!
The Music of What Happened by Bill Konigsberg. ISBN 9781338215502. 2/26/2019.
Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds. ISBN 9780062748379. 2018. 3/12/2019.
Patron Saints of Nothinge by Randy Ribay. ISBN 9780525554912. 6/18/2019.
A Place for Wolves by Kosoka Jackson. ISBN 9781492673651. 4/02/2019.
Symptoms of Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra. ISBN 9781250199102. 5/21/2019.
Watch us Rise by Renee Watson. ISBN 9781547600083. 2/12/2019.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. ISBN 9780062662835. 5/07/2019.