Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity
African-American twins experience the gentrification of their neighborhood — and their different opinions of what’s happening — in This Side of Home by Renée Watson. (I regret that I read this book during my blogging hiatus because I didn’t write a review of it and I had to return it to the library. I might check it out again just so I can write a review. I liked it that much.) Playing With Matches introduced me to the world of matchmaking in the Orthodox Jew community. The main characters in Under a Painted Sky, set in 1849,are Chinese Samantha (Sammy) and former slave Annamae (Andy), while Blackbird Fly‘s Apple is a Filipino girl facing racism and mean girls in small-town contemporary Louisiana. I haven’t read Joyride by Anna Banks yet, but I’m getting it from the library soon (waiting list). Joyride’s main character is Carly, whose parents are illegal immigrants who have been deported to Mexico.
I read, but unfortunately did not review, The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi last year. It’s set at a religious camp with the objective of turning gay teenagers straight. These next two books could also fit into the racial and cultural diversity section, but I put them here because my banner was getting too big and I wanted more than one book in this section. One Man Guy tells the story of Armenian-American Alek who is surprised to find himself attracted to a slightly older boy. It’s a great story that I gave 4 1/2 stars. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan has a Persian lesbian main character. I haven’t read this one yet — I hadn’t even heard of it until I went searching for a few books to round out my list — but I’ve added it to my TBR and plan to get it soon.
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern features a main character with cerebral palsy and another character with obsessive compulsive disorder (so, like many of these picks, it has more than one type of diversity). While I had issues with parts of it, it’s a good example of a type of diversity that’s often overlooked in the discussion of diversity in YA. As is North of Beautiful by Justina Chen. It probably wouldn’t be included on a typical list of diverse books but I’m adding it to mine. Terra is Caucasian, blonde, solidly middle-class American with a perfect body and a beautiful face, save the a large port-wine stain (birthmark) on her cheek. I’m reading it now and have just met the Goth Asian-American boy she’s inevitably going to hook up with.