2018 is providing an abundance of amazing and interesting Young Adult books to look forward to. This is especially true for YA authors of color. With so many good books being released this year, it may sometimes seem difficult to keep up with the ones that catch your interest before they come out. So, I’ve compiled a small and hardly exhaustive list of five YA books you should be looking forward to this year!
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Set in the middle of the American Civil War, this book revolves around Jane McKeene, who happened to be born two days before those killed in the Battle of Gettysburg begin walking. Forever changed by this phenomenon, America now depends on Native and Negro children to become skilled in getting rid of the dead. Some Negro children can train to become protectors, which offers them a somewhat better life. Still, fighting the dead is a minor issue compared to the problems Jane faces when families in Baltimore County go missing. Jane becomes embroiled in a conspiracy larger than she may be able to handle. The history nerd in me is teeming with excitement and anticipation for this book. I am excited to see the ways that author Justina Ireland will challenge what we know about the Civil War and race in America by taking an age-old supernatural entity, the zombie, and combining it with one of the most fascinating time periods in American history. Dread Nation will be released April 3, 2018 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.
Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
This book centers around Moss Jeffries, a smart and loving teenage boy who suffers from anxiety and grapples with the death of his father. Feeling trapped both by his own personal struggles as well as those of over-policing at his high school and tensions between different groups, this story shows that teenagers are capable of using their anger to enact change in their communities. I am excited about this book because it feels so relevant right now, especially with the near constant occurrences of police shootings against unarmed civilians and the general tensions that often exist between communities of color and police. Anger Is a Gift will be released May 22, 2018, and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
This book revolves around Marvin Johnson, who finds himself struggling to deal with grief after his twin brother Tyler goes missing after a party. Later, a video leaked to the public shows that Tyler was killed by a police officer. Now dealing with the loss of his twin and his entire life changing, he is forced to examine his ideas of justice, especially where his brother is concerned. I have a feeling that this book is going to rip my heart out and put it back in. Much like the previously mentioned book, Tyler Johnson Was Here is extremely relevant and timely. I look forward to being able to read it. This book was released on March 20, 2018 and can be ordered on Amazon.
Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
In this book, Aminah Mae Safi writes a fun and amazingly relatable story about Lulu Saad, a sure-footed young woman who feels confidently prepared to take on anything the world throws at her. Much like any person, she has a few missteps as she attempts to find her place in the world. After an incident during Ramadan fractures her relationships with some family members, Lulu has to learn how to navigate acknowledging your wrongs to those you love and care about though it may not always be easy. Not the Girls You’re Looking For is a book that I could easily see being made into a fun and soulful coming-of-age film or tv show. I am looking forward to this book because of how relatable it feels. It is easy to see myself or even people I know as Lulu Saad. This book will be released on June 19, 2018 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
After the death of her mother by suicide, Leigh Chen Sanders believes that her mother became a bird. In The Astonishing Color of After, Leigh Chen goes on a journey of self-discovery by traveling to Taiwan to visit her mother’s parents. While working through her grief, Leigh learns more about her family and the secrets they have and grows closer to her grandparents. This story is a riveting manifestation of things we are all bound to experience in life such as grief, hurt, romance, and happiness, as well as the things we bring ourselves to believe in the wake of immense loss. I have a feeling this will be a book that will have teardrops all over the pages by the time I finish it. This book feels so real, and despite it centering around a girl who is half Taiwanese, it feels so applicable to anyone who is attempting to keep alive and grow closer to those they’ve lost by understanding their own background. The Astonishing Color of After was released on March 20, 2018 and is available for order on Amazon.
There’s quite a bit to look forward to this year for authors of color in the YA genre in 2018. Are there any others you’re looking forward to? Or, which of these would you like to see made into a movie or TV show? Let us know!