6 Debut Novels We Recommend

We are sharing a few first novels that left us in a book coma after reading them! For days afterwards we were just in a hazy fog, remembering the characters and the Worlds in which these books were set.


The Mothers, Brit Bennett

The Mothers (Book)

The Mothers follows Nadia, Luke and Aubrey as they grow up together making good and bad choices as their lives intertwine in unexpected ways. What a book! It has all the emotions and will give you all the feels … but it was also kind of sad throughout. And I’m a little mad about the ending. I wanted it neat and tidy but that’s not what I got … but – the ending is exactly as it should have been – a bit messy like life. The book and it left me scattered, and a mess, and thinking about the characters long after I finished reading it.

Brit Bennett’s 2nd book is The Vanishing Half – which was also a phenomenal read – we put it on our list of 3 Fiction Books by Black Authors To Add to Your Book Club Reading List last year.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Behold the Dreamers

One of my favorite book read a few years ago was Behold the Dreamers. Perhaps it’s because I’m an immigrant myself, and this story felt familiar , or maybe it was just the great way the story was told, or maybe it was because I could so vividly picture this family, their apartment, their struggle, or maybe it’s because the audiobook narration by Prentice Onayemi was so spot on … or maybe it’s just all of the above.

MBue’s next book, How Beautiful We Were, is also really good

Queenie, Candace Carty-Williams

Queenie (Book)

Queenie is everything! Love, love, love! Get the audiobook, narrated by Shvorne Marks, for this one – you’ll basically be immersed in the story complete with authentic dialects. Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. After a messy breakup from her White long-term boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places including several hazardous men.

Basically, Queenie 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 some of the things Queenie and making questionable decisions in life! The author does a brilliant job of bringing this character to life and has us feeling for every terrible and ridiculous situation that she puts herself through.


Iron Widow, Xiran Jay Zhao

This is one fiery debut! It’s fast paced and fierce and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I was impressed with the way that Zhao weaved Chinese culture throughout this futuristic speculative fiction debut. Qi is used to pilot spaceships and fight battles with alien enemies. It sounds amazing but there is still a culture of women serving men as concubines. Our main character herself, has bound feet as is customary for her people. I really want to read more from this world.

The Gilded Ones, Namina Forna

Another that focuses on women breaking free from male oppression. This is an intricately woven fantasy that deals with purity culture and feminism. I loved every character in this book and can’t wait to read more of their adventures.

No Exit, Taylor Adams

I’ve raved about this book before but after reading his second novel, Hairpin Bridge, I’m convinced he’s the new thriller author to watch out for. Wow! Both of these novels took me on such a ride.

Those are 6 of our favorite debut novels and it’s such a diverse list with a book for almost every type of reader. Have you reador heard of any of the books? What did you think?


// Comments //

  1. Simone

    Jan 18

    I loved both No Exit and The Gilded Ones. No Exit kept me at the edge of my seat. The Gilded Ones, can we just stop and admire the gorgeous cover?! That was what caught my eye on the list of new releases back then.