Top Fiction Title
As young Milo and his older sister take their weekly train ride, Milo draws pictures of the people he sees and the worlds he imagines they live in based on what they wear and how they look. It isn’t until Milo sees a boy in a suit headed for the same place that he and his sister are heading that he starts to rethink the assumptions he’s made based on appearance, for they are all headed for a correctional facility to visit someone. For Milo and his older sister, it’s their mom. This revelation helps the reader understand that you can’t judge a person by what they look like and what they wear.
Aswad, Ink. A Little Mizery: MAMA’s Home, Part 1. September 2021. $14.99. Paperback. 246 pages. 9798484902996. New Adults.
|Destiny and Karma lost their mother in childbirth and were raised in the foster care system. This leads the twins to experience a myriad of abuse and mayhem which includes teen pregnancy, drug trafficking, and incarceration.|
Clarke, Maxine Beneba.
When We Say Black Lives Matter.
September 2021. Candlewick.
$16.99. Hardback. 32 pages. 9781536222380. Children’s
|Affirming and aspirational language that helps people of all ages to understand the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.|
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In this sister story to the1998 The Skin I’m In, author Sharon Flake looks at the shattered world of Maleeka Madison’s tormentor Charlese “Char” Jones, whose older sister places her on a Greyhound bus to their grandparents in Alabama because of Char’s out of control behavior. Before the end of the trip, Char exits the bus and becomes a runaway which leads her into the hands of human traffickers.
Flake, Sharon G. The Life I’m In (The Skin I’m #2). January 2021. Scholastic Press. $18.99. Hardback. 336 pages. 9781338573176. Young Adult
Gattis, Ryan. The System: A Novel. December 2020. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. $28.00. Hardcover. 432 pages. 9780374130310. Adult for Young and New Adults.
|A historical crime narrative that allows the reader to see a heightened level of what the actual justice system looks like from gang life to street arrest to court trials to the incarceration experience.|
|When 16-year-old Erica Walker wakes up from a drunken house party the night before, she finds herself half-clothed and with the names of the lacrosse team written on her body in permanent marker. Two days later, a video appears of the assault. Erica has no memory of what happened and falls back on her alter ego, Erica Strange, to cope with the trauma. This narrative is told in two-voice prose with graphic elements from both the victim and the perpetrator.|
Gustafson, Cassie. After the Ink Dries. July 2021. Simon Pulse. $19.99. Hardback. 416 pages. 9781534473690. Young Adult.
Hall, Desmond. Your Corner Dark. January 2021. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy. $19.99. Hardback. 384 pages. 9781534460713. Young Adult.
|Taken from the Jamaican saying that means between a rock and a hard place, high school senior Frankie has just won a scholarship to a prestigious school in America when he learns that his father has just been gunned down. The only way to get money for his father’s medical coverage is to join his uncle’s street gang. This means no future plans for school and no fulfillment of his long-planned dreams.|
The life of Cathryn with riddled with a homelife of physical and mental abuse from her father. She tries to hide this world and keep it separated from her life at school by staying lowkey and wearing clothing that hids the bruises on her body. When her mother’s illness causes an escalation in her father’s violence, Cathryn has to decide whether to continue hiding this secret or reach out to someone for help.
Hansen, C. C. The Lies She Wore. April 2021. Dancing Willows Press. $11.99. Paperback. 290 pages. 9781735261522. Older Young Adults.
|Deeply traumatized from being the victim of a hate crime because of her Muslim dress, 13-year-old Nisrin decides to wear the hijab permanently. The idea is not received with much enthusiasm by her traditional Bangladeshi-American family, who left their homeland under extenuating circumstances.|
Huq, Priya. Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab. November 2021. Abrams. $22.95 . Hardback. 224 pages. 9781419740199. Young Adult Graphic Novel.
Kpadea, Emolie, Japan Spells, Damarco Taylor, and Rob Gibson. And Justice for Who? November 2020. Shout Mouse Press. $11.99. Paperback. 38 pages. 9781950807093. Picture Book for Older Readers.
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When a Black Lives Matter protest ends in police violence, friends Cody and Nene do not share the same opinion. Nene has an uncle and is in defense of the police while Cody is not. Their opposition pulls the friends farther apart until the day they share a startling experience that mends their rift and leads them to a better understanding.
|When nineteen-year-old Na is notified of her brother’s unexpected death, she is confronted with giving up her limited independence in order to save her parents from destitution. Resentful of the educational opportunities China’s social order allowed her brother to pursue, Na is now pressured into marrying a childhood friend for wealth. A deeper investigation into her brother’s death reveals secrets that her brother’s death was not due to what it seemed to be. Includes issues of LGBTQIA+.|
Liu, Jennie. Like Spilled Water. September 2020. Carolrhoda Lab. $18.99. Hardcover. 216 pages. 978-1541572904. Young and New Adults.
Mickelson, Marcia Argueta. Where I Belong. September 2021. Carolrhoda Lab. Hardback. 264 pages. $18.99. 9781541597976. Young Adult.
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Seventeen-year-old Millie Vargas lives with her mom who immigrated to Texas from Guatemala when Millie was an infant. Unlike the negative imagery portrayed in news and social, Millie defies stereotypes and will be graduating high school with a full academic scholarship to a local 4-year college. Her problem arises when her mother’s employer wants to exploit her success for political purposes.
|Since his parents’ death, Alex has had the power to the future of whatever he touches. This makes his life particularly challenging when he sees a vision of his brother’s death. A speculative story that weaves together the real-life elements of racism, stereotype casting, anxiety, and grief.|
Morris, Brittany. The Cost of Knowing. April 2021. April 2021. Simon and Schuster. $18.99. Hardback. 336pages. 9781534445455. Young Adult.
Stork, Francisco X. On the Hook. May 2021. Scholastic Press. $17.99. Hardback. 304 pages. 9781338692150. Young Adults.
Hector is doing all the things it takes to get accepted to a good college: his grades are high, he has healthy habits, and a strong desire to achieve. When a dispute between Hector and his brother with local gang members escalates, Hector ends up in jail and his brother ends up dead.
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Set in 1996 this story-in-verse of 13-year-old Sarai, who is a first-generation Puerto Rican, is set in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. Sarai is in eighth grade and trying very hard to navigate successfully through the poverty, family trauma, misogyny, and housing insecurity of a neighborhood embedded with drug abuse, police brutality, and gentrification, in hopes of securing her family’s hope of securing the American dream.
Velasquez, Elisabet. When We Make It. September 2021. Dial, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. $19.99. Hardback. 384 pages 9780593324486. Young Adult.