Friday, December 12, 2014

Due to the holidays, YA Diversity Book Club is taking a month off from our selected reading – but fear not, we’re still shining a light on great diverse titles! This month we’re each sharing our favorite diverse reads from 2014. Here are mine:

American Born Chinese Originally published in 2006, AMERICAN BORN CHINESE by Gene Luen Yang has earned tons of awards and honors, but I didn’t bump it to the top of my TBR pile until late last year when I met Gene and got a signed copy from him at Books by the Banks. Then I zipped through this clever graphic novel, with its 3 “separate” stories that weave together so beautifully. As an ABC myself (sort of… half ABC, anyway) I definitely found a lot to relate to.

Caminar I think CAMINAR by Skila Brown is technically Middle Grade, but the lyricism of this novel in verse, and its nuanced portrayal of a boy during a time of war, could appeal to mature readers of any age. Through the story of Carlos, I learned about the history and culture of Guatemala. The time and place might be foreign to me, but Carlos’s fear, his love of family, and his hope are universal.

Pointe POINTE by Brandy Colbert isn’t just one of my favorite diverse reads of 2014; it’s one of my favorite books of the year, period. I’ve already blogged a bit about how perfectly the cover captures the tone of the story. I’ll add that Theo is an excellent protagonist, not because she’s virtuous and heroic, but because she’s sharp and flawed and vulnerable and real. The fact that she’s black isn’t irrelevant – how could it be, in a time when our country is still struggling to value young black lives appropriately? – but it’s not the point of the story either. It’s just part of Theo’s identity, as much as being a ballerina or living in Chicago.

The Walled City Last but not least, THE WALLED CITY by Ryan Graudin is one excellent answer to author Matt de la Peña’s question, "Where's the African-American Harry Potter or the Mexican Katniss?" In this case, the heroes are not black or Hispanic, but Chinese. In fact, the whole cast is. And yet that changes nothing, in terms of storytelling. The action is gripping, the characters interesting and well-developed, the themes thought-provoking. This is one of those books that I think serves as both mirror and window at the same time. I hope to see more like it in the years to come.

What great diverse books did you read in 2014?

Here are the picks from Teen Lit Rocks and the Reading Date.

YA Diversity Book Club will be back in Jan 2015, reading THE WAY WE BARED OUR SOULS by Willa Strayhorn. Feel free to join us!


The Reading Date said...

I love that Pointe is on your list! I'm still reading it, otherwise it would have been on my list for sure. Can't wait to read The Walled City- it sounds very exciting. I really like verse novels and you have piqued my interest about Caminar. How wonderful that you have a signed copy of American Born Chinese! Looking forward to reading more diverse books with you in 2015 :)

Sandie said...

I have yet to read American Born Chinese, but I've heard it's excellent, and I have loved seeing Gene Yang speak at different Fests. He's awesome. My husband read my ARC of The Walled CIty when he was in the hospital and really enjoyed it; I'll have to give it a try as well.

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.



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