My reading habits are diverse. Nonfiction, teen fiction, adult fiction, graphic novels, memoirs...I love it all. You know what's not diverse? Me. (see photo evidence to the left). That's why I seek out #ownvoices books. An #ownvoices book is one where the main character is from a marginalized group and the author is a part of that same marginalized group.
In the past few years there has been an explosion of books written for young adults by diverse authors writing about their own diversity.
I've read most of the titles below and I have learned so much from these authors. I've also learned that there is always room to learn more about people whose experiences don't match my own.
Here are ten #ownvoices titles from 2018 that have given us beautiful stories and inspirational verse based on diverse lived experiences. I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.
by Elizabeth Acevedo
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration onto the pages of a leather notebook. When she is invited to join her schools slam poetry club, she knows that she could never attend, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in spite of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
by Gloria Chao
A freshman at MIT, seventeen-year-old Mei Lu tries to live up to her Taiwanese parents' expectations, but no amount of tradition, obligation, or guilt prevent her from hiding several truths--that she is a germaphobe who cannot become a doctor, she prefers dancing to biology, she decides to reconnect with her estranged older brother, and she has a crush on her classmate, Darren, who is decidedly not Taiwanese. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?
by Sara Farizan
What happens when a kid who’s flown under the radar for most of high school gets pulled off the bench to make the winning basket in a varsity playoff game? If his name is Bijan Majidi, life is suddenly high fives in the hallways and invitation to exclusive parties – along with an anonymous photo sent by a school cyberbully that makes Bijan look like a terrorist. Lots of classmate rally around Bijan. Others make it clear they don’t want him or anybody who looks like him at their school, but it’s not always easy to tell your enemies from your friends. A painfully honest, funny, authentic story about growing up, speaking out, and fighting prejudice.
by Mia Garcia
Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora have always been inseparable. But now with senior year on the horizon, they've been growing apart. And so, as always, Jess makes a plan. Reinstating their usual tradition of making resolutions together on New Year's Eve, Jess adds a new twist: instead of making their own resolutions, the four friends assign them to one another--dares like kiss someone you know is wrong for you, find your calling outside your mom's Puerto Rican restaurant, finally learn Spanish, and say yes to everything. But as the year unfolds, Jess, Lee, Ryan, and Nora each test the bonds that hold them together. And amid first loves, heartbreaks, and life-changing decisions, beginning again is never as simple as it seems.
by Maureen Goo
Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad's business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?
by Adib Khorram
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon then Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit Social Cues than Persian Ones. He’s a fractions Persian – half, his mom’s side and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fit in at home and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating feludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline and Darius has never felt more like himself. This brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough and then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.
by Tahereh Mafi
It's 2002, a year after 9/11. It's an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who's tired of being stereotyped. Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She's tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments--even the physical violence--she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she's built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. But then she meets Ocean James. He's the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her--they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds--and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she's not sure she'll ever be able to let it down.
by Janice Lynne Mather
Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules – study hard, be respectful and never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially living in her mother’s shadow. When Indy is sent to stay in Nassau, trouble follows her and she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth. Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home and learns that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof, it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.
by Candice Montgomery
Tasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She's a senior, she's got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school's team. But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia's determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don't come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them--but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin.
by Jason Reynolds
Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds's rallying cry to the dreamers of the world