10 Books to Diversify Your Reading

This is so overdue! I spoke awhile ago about consciously changing my reading habits to ensure that it was more diverse.  At the end of that post I promised a reading list and then, you know, life happens. Here are some #ownvoices #weneeddiversebooks that I have enjoyed.  There are a ton of others.  I am concentrating on YA realistic fiction that has been fairly recently published in this list just be clear.  There is a whole diverse fantasy world that I NEED to get into to.

All American Boys cover

All American Boys
By Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: September 29, 2015

This was one of the most powerful books that I have read in the last year.  If a book could personify zeitgeist this book has managed it.  This book is both well written and important as hell. I kind of want to buy a thousand copies and leave them around everywhere for people.

If I Ever get out of here

If I Ever Get Out of Here
By Eric Gansworth

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: July 30, 2013

This is the story of a Native American boy living on a reservation near Buffalo (ah, home sweet home) during the winter of 1977.  It is a very moving story about friendship and identity. Excellent use of music as well.

The Spider King's daughter cover

The Spider King's Daughter
by Chidbundu Onuzo

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: March 15th, 2012

Could someone please read this book so that I have someone to talk to about it?  Abike, one of the main characters, is manipulative and cold as hell and I am 100% on her side. I also love the cover.

Listen, Slowly cover

Listen, Slowly
By Thanhhà Lại

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: February 17, 2015

In this book a twelve year old girl discovers that the two worlds that she has been living in don't have to be separate and that she can be fully herself in both.

What Can't wait cover

What Can't Wait
By Ashley Hope Pérez

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: March 28th 2011

My love for this book is well documented.  Marisa's story is painful, real, and full of hope. See my review .

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If I was your girl cover

If I was Your Girl
By Meredith Russo

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: May 3rd 2016

This book isn't perfect.  It doesn't need to be.  It asks the question: What do you do when the world doesn't seem to want you to exist? You be who you are, Amanda! *sob

A Time to Dance cover

A Time to Dance
By Padma Venkatraman
 
Goodreads Amazon 
Series: no
Release date: May 1, 2014

A novel is verse, which isn't usually my thing, but this book managed to overcome that.  I love how it explores the idea of figuring out who you are when the thing that you have defined yourself with disappears.

Same sun here cover

Same Sun Here
By Neela Vaswani and Silas House

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Release date: February 14th 2012

This is one of my favorite MG reads ever. It touches on family, friendship, activism, and the things that unite us.

Into White cover

Into White
by Randi Pink

Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: September 13th 2016

I am putting this book on the list because the premise is so brilliant.  I had very mixed feelings about it but I think it is a starting point for a kind of book that is needed. See my full review here.

To All the Boys I've loved before cover

To All the Boys I've Love Before
By Jenny Han

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Release date: April 15th 2014

Because  fluffy happiness and butterflies. 

 

As I said before there are a TON of people more qualified to speak on this subject than me.  But this is an issue that we all need to see and do whatever small part we can to address.  We are all missing out on some amazing books because they aren't being published.  

I would like to do some internetting and see if I can come up with a list of links to specific articles/posts of all those people that I mentioned that know more about this than I do.

What book would you add to this list? 

Book Review: Into White by Randi Pink

Into white cover

Into White
by Randi Pink
Goodreads |  Amazon
Series: no
Release date: September 13th 2016

I was SUPER excited for this book.  I preordered it six months ago and was refreshing my amazon account every few minutes on Tuesday until it was available.  I think that the concept for this novel, black girl prays to be white and then is, is genius.  I feel like that is a story that needs to be told.

My main problem with this book is that it lacked subtlety.  I know that explicit racism is a problem in the US.  But I don’t think that it is socially acceptable.  Maybe it was because the setting was Montgomery, Alabama.  I have never lived in the South and have done very little traveling there.  But I feel as if that story has already been told.  Many times and very well.   I was expecting this book to be more about implicit racism such as, the damage that microaggressions can cause or the damaging way that the black community is portrayed by the media.   

I didn’t get that.  I got a MC who hates her own race, turns white and then starts hanging around the two vilest human beings on the planet.  They are racist, have eating disorders, and also some very weird sexual manipulation issues.  Is this something that is common in other places?  I spent about 80 of my waking hours with teenagers and I didn’t recognize these two. Or any of their friends.

I am not sure how I feel about Latoya. First of all, she isn’t a reader.  I am so cheap when it comes to characters.  Make a literary reference and I am yours.   There were times that I really liked her clear headed tone but that made it all the more frustrating when she made decisions that I didn’t agree with.  She was also pretty casual about calling people some very mean names in her head.  Is this again an issue of subtly?  For the most part I agreed with her assessments just not the name calling.  It took me until about 68% of the way into the book to start liking her.  Which I think is significant because it is around that time that she starts liking herself. 

I did love, Alex, her brother.  He was sharp, sensitive, and kind.  He stuck by Latoya even when she was pretty cruel to him. It hurt that he limited who he was to stay true to her.  Side note on their parents.  Are they supposed to be amusing and zany?  Why was everything they said “screamed” or “yelled” or “shrieked”?  I know that there was a little resolution on this point but it was kind of jarring.

I think that the writing was quite decent.  I think that Randi Pink has a really interesting perspective and I liked how she presented it. There were parts in it that were meant to be funny that didn’t resonate with me.  It was just a different sense of humor.  The first person present narration also didn’t sit right with me.  I think that first person past would have worked better.  I wasn’t super impressed with how the premise was handled.  Latoya and everyone that she tells or who finds out is unsurprised and unfreaked out by her transformation.  A couple of times Latoya is sitting with and having a conversation with Jesus and she isn’t the least bit concerned.   Maybe there is a religious aspect of this novel that is going over my head?

I felt battered.  Instead of showing me new ideas and things to think about it felt as if this novel was holding me by the hair and screaming, “THINK ABOUT THIS ISSUE NOW.”  There was no sly undermining sidelong look from a character that freyed Latoya’s confidence.  It was all,” You are a slut.”  To her face.  The racism.  Obvious.  And to her face.  “I think black people are awful, ect.”  Same with the religion, sexual aggression, family, and lack of support that she feels from other black people. 

I will give Randi Pink another chance if she decides to write another book.  Obviously, this book made me do quite a bit of thinking and I did have an emotional reaction to the story.  Is it a matter of being disappointed because the book I got was different from the book that was in my head? I am not sure.   There was such potential in this story but the execution didn’t live up to the brilliant premise. 


From Goodreads:
When a black teenager prays to be white and her wish comes true, her journey of self-discovery takes shocking--and often hilarious--twists and turns in this debut that people are sure to talk about.

LaToya Williams lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and attends a mostly white high school. She's so low on the social ladder that even the other black kids disrespect her. Only her older brother, Alex, believes in her. At least, until a higher power answers her only prayer--to be "anything but black." And voila! She wakes up with blond hair, blue eyes, and lily white skin. And then the real fun begins . . .

Randi Pink's debut dares to explore provocative territory. One thing's for sure--people will talk about this book.