2021 TOP FICTION TITLE: The top five fiction titles are annotated on this page.
They are combined with the Top 5 nonfiction titles to make the top ten list each year.


Johnson, Kim. This is My America. July 2020. Random House. $17.99. Hardback. 416 pages. 9780593118764. Young Adults. With only weeks to go before her father is wrongfully executed for a crime he did not commit, 16 year-old Tasha is challenged with similar accusations made towards her brother

Jones, Kimberly and Gilly Segal. I’m Not Dying With You Tonight. August 2019. Source Book Fire. $17.99. Hardback. 272 pages. 9781492678899. Young Adult. Told from two alternating Points of View, this story shares the perspective of two high school girls in a small Southern town on the night that the town experiences turmoil from racial protests.

Kaba, Mariame and Bria Royal. September 2019. Haymarket. $16.95. Hardback. 36 pages. 9781642590364. Children. In this candid narrative, the main character deconstructs all the bitter emotions of lonliness and abandonment, due to the incarceration of her father.

Marie, Charmaine. My Daddy’s Baby: Forgiveness and Deliverance Are Two of the Most Important and Difficult Things We Will Ever Have to Face in Our Lives. March 2020. Real L.O.V.E. Publications. $9.99. Paperback. 132 pages. 9781734255102. Young Adults and Older Teens. When Raquel’s mother dies, she and her father are devastated by the loss. In this layered mix of drama and hard truths, they learn how “forgiveness and deliverance are two of the most difficult challenges to overcome.”

Piccolo, Normandy D. Why is Kristyn a Kutter? June 2019. Normandy’s Bright Idea. $15.00. Paperback. 273 pages. 9788676358005. Older Teens. Instead of talking about her problems, Kristyn’s rebellious spirit and self-hate has lead to episodes of depression and self-mutilation when things go wrong. It didn’t help that her best friend committed suicide, having her wonder if she will end up the same way. Resources for crisis intervention through national centers and online support is available.


Price, James. THE COMEBACK: I Raised These Streets. August 2020. Divinity Publishing. $15.00. Paperback. 273 pages. 9788676358005. Older Teens and Adults. Choosing the streets over a full academic ride to an Ivy League college, Ricky Thomas, Jr. follows in the path of his drug dealing father. Clashing with Steven Brown over who will rule the streets and gain the affection of the girl, without losing their life in the process.


Reynolds, Jason and Danica Novgorodoff. Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel. October 2020. Atheneum Caitlyn Dloughy. $9.99. Hardback. 208 pages. 9781534444959. Young Adults. The galvanizing book-in-verse account of retribution for the death of family members from gun violence has been reimaged in graphic format.

Robertson, David A., Scott B. Henderson, and Donavan Yaciuk. THE RECKONER RISES: Breakdown. August 2020. Highwater. Paperback. $21.95. 64 pages. 9781553798903. Young Adults. Cole and Eva in a serious state of transition after events occurring on their reservation almost completely wiped out their entire nation of people. Now in this graphic sequel to The Reckoner trilogy, Cole is beginning to receive terrifying visions and Eva’s new abilities is pulling them both towards the inevitable, as the reader follows their morph into the super heroes of Indigenous ancestry.


McLellan, Michael A. RETURN ADDRESSES. April 2020. Self Published. $13.99. Paperback. 280 pages. 9798632368926. Young Adult and Older Teens. The nightmarish experiences of the horrors that could occur youth who become wards of the state and are trusted into broken foster care systems, reminds us that the struggle to fix the broken is still a pressing social issue in our society. For fourteen year-old Sean Pennington, he’d rather risk life, limb, and emotional stability in a cross-country run to find his last living relative than to remain in the system.

Stone, Nic. Dear Justyce. September 2020. Crown. $15.00. Hardback. 273 pages. 9788676358005. Young Adult. This sequel to Dear Martin presents the back story of how Justyce McAllister’s childhood friend Vernel LaQuan Banks has ended up in jail on charges of murder against a police officer. Through the sharing of letters LaQuan, who sits in a regional juvenile detention facility, and Justyce, who is now enrolled as an undergraduate in Yale University, comes to terms on how the American judicial system disenfranchises BIPOC youth, particularly those who are black and Latinx.

Waters, Michael W. and Keisha Morris. For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World September 2020. Flyaway Books. $18.00. Hardback. 40 pages. 9781947888081. Children. A picture book for old readers that seeks to dispel the pretense behind the constant shooting of unarmed black men and boys by people of authority. The deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Edwards are included in this narrative of hope.


Zoboi, Ibi and Yusef Salaam. Punching the Air. September 2020. Balzer + Bray. $19.99. Hardback. 400 pages. 9780062996480. Young Adults. In this semi-biographical book in verse narrative, Yusef Salaam, a member of the Exonerated Five, shares the tale of a teen boy who was incarcerated and forced to serve time under false pretenses, leaving his life in shambles. Some of the poems used in the storyline were written by Salaam during his own wrongful incarceration.