Many of the book clubs I’ve gone to in the past don’t have many books written by minorities, and make no effort to find them. So we’re making it an annual tradition here at GXO to recommend a books written by authors of color, that would make excellent selections for book clubs.
❇ TANYA PATRICE ❇
Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams
I’ve also only mentioned Queenie about a bajillion times here on GXO – but I won’t stop pushing this book because I loved it so much. This is the story of Queenie – she is a HOT MESS! She is going through a breakup which has triggered a lot of pain because of past rejections. And she is not handling it well. Get ready for graphic sexual imagery. But oh my gosh – who can’t feel and relate to Queenie. This book is sure to generate a lot of discussion at your book club – some will love it, some will hate it … some will blush at the crude bits in the book.
Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.
On the Come Up, Angie Thomas
Not only is this a young adult book, but it features a main character who wants to be a rapper … this is like book club kryptonite! But trust me on this one – encourage your book club members to get the audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin (something that’s oddly frowned upon in some of the book clubs I’ve joined in the past) … and get to know Bri, a 16 year old girl who lives in the projects of Crown Heights and who thinks constantly bout a way out for her and her family – which for her, means getting discovered as a hip-hop artist. This is the story of dreaming, fighting for your dream and navigating through the bullshit of life.
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral … for all the wrong reasons.
Patsy, Nicole Dennis-Benn
There’s so much to unpack in Patsy as we follow her life’s journey and everything she goes through – her battle with depression (without knowing what it’s called), her story as a mother who doesn’t feel connected to her child, her struggles as an illegal immigrant and the complexities as her feelings for another woman in a time and society where it’s very much taboo. But the story is also told from the point of view of the daughter who Patsy left behind in Jamaica – her feelings of longing, not belonging and deep hurt, but also hopefulness. There is so much to this book, but it’s written with a thoughtful hand and it’s a wonderful novel that deserves to be read more than once!
When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, it comes after years of yearning to leave Pennyfield, the beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where she was raised. More than anything, Patsy wishes to be reunited with her oldest friend, Cicely, whose letters arrive from New York steeped in the promise of a happier life and the possible rekindling of their young love. But Patsy’s plans don’t include her overzealous, evangelical mother – or even her five-year-old daughter, Tru.
The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead knows how to tell a story (his previous novel, Underground Railroad, was on our last list). This is a coming of age story in the Jim Crow era … but that coming of age occurs in a school for boys in segregated Florida – where many atrocities are perpetuated. This book is based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children.
Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called The Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.” In reality, The Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors, where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.”
Other recommendations we’ve made in the past – 5 More Fiction Recommendations To Add Diversity To Your Book Club Reads and 9 More Fiction Recommendations to Add Diversity to Your Book Club Selections … and here’s 6 Reasons I Stopped Going to Your Book Club.