Diversity Book Club: Novels by Diverse Authors – Part One, by Lori Ann Palma

 
If you’re a writer, then you know diversity is one of the biggest topics in the publishing world right now. Not only are agents and editors seeking titles that feature diverse characters, writers are also stretching beyond their backgrounds to give much needed voices to underrepresented characters. As a reader and writer, I want to support the “We Need Diverse Books” movement in a meaningful way, so I’ve started a list of books for my TBR pile that are exclusively written by diverse authors.
 
This list is by no means complete, so if you see a title or author I’ve missed, please add their work to the comments section. Because I haven’t read a majority of the books below, I can only recommend them as examples of what’s currently out there. If you want to seek out more options by diverse authors, search the #OwnVoices hashtag on Twitter, or visit the following websites: disabilityinkidlit.com; diversityinya.com; richincolor.com; gayya.org; and author Dahlia Adler’s great lists (https://dailydahlia.wordpress.com/writing-resources/rec-lists-to-diversify-your-reading/).
 
In alphabetical order by author last name (A-L is included in Part One), here are the books! Keep an eye out for Part Two of my Diversity Book Club list, featuring authors M-Z.
 
All book descriptions are from Amazon.com.
 
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, who takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will get her through to the dawn, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy-king who killed her dearest friend. He’s not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls.
 

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. This novel, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
 
 
El Deafo by Cece Bell
In this graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.
 
 
The Last Leaves Falling by Fox Benwell (published under the name Sarah Benwell)
Abe Sora is going to die, and he’s only seventeen years old. Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), he’s already lost the use of his legs, which means he can no longer attend school. Seeking a sense of normality, Sora visits teen chat rooms online and finally finds what he’s been longing for: friendship without pity.As much as he loves his new friends, he can’t ignore what’s ahead. He’s beginning to lose the function of his hands, and soon he’ll become even more of a burden to his mother. Inspired by the death poems of the legendary Japanese warriors known as samurai, Sora makes the decision to leave life on his own terms. And he needs his friends to help him.
 

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Sing Sweet Nightingale (The Dream War Saga) by Erica Cameron
Mariella Teagen hasn’t spoken a word in four years. She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves and only sees in Paradise, the world Orane created for her. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever. Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again after Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect him. But when his vow causes the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella’s life while she fights to give it away. He must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.
 
 
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.
 
 
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy after a fateful morning on their Chicago rooftop. Forced to move to a new city, with her strict African American grandmother as her guardian, Rachel is thrust for the first time into a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring a constant stream of attention her way. It’s there, as she grows up and tries to swallow her grief, that she comes to understand how the mystery and tragedy of her mother might be connected to her own uncertain identity. 
 

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Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Nolan doesn’t see darkness when he closes his eyes. Instead, he’s transported into the mind of Amara, a girl living in a different world. Nolan’s life in his small Arizona town is full of history tests, family tension, and laundry; his parents think he has epilepsy, judging from his frequent blackouts. Amara’s world is full of magic and danger—she’s a mute servant girl who’s tasked with protecting a renegade princess. Nolan is only an observer in Amara’s world—until he learns to control her. At first, Amara is terrified. Then, she’s furious. But to keep the princess—and themselves—alive, they’ll have to work together and discover the truth behind their connection. 
 
 
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed. So they carry on in secret until Nasrin’s parents suddenly announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution: homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. Sahar will never be able to love Nasrin in the body she wants to be loved in without risking their lives, but is saving their love worth sacrificing her true self?
 
 
George by Alex Gino
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte—but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
 

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Since You Asked by Maureen Goo
Fifteen-year-old Holly Kim is the copyeditor for her high school’s newspaper. When she accidentally submits an article that rips everyone to shreds, she gets her own column and rants her way through the school year. Can she survive homecoming, mean-girl cliques, jocks, secret admirers, Valentine’s Day, and other high school embarrassments, all while struggling to balance her family’s traditional Korean values?
 
 
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him. But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.” Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?
 
 
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to many more places, both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth, putting Nix’s life—her entire existence—at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her own.
 

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Run by Kody Keplinger (releases in June 2016)
Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules designed protect their legally blind. Bo and Agnes form a deep friendship, and when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require confronting some ugly secrets.
 
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina
They’re known as Firestarters. Boomers. Skychangers. The government calls them Illegals—children with inexplicable abilities—and detains them in menacing facilities so that society is kept out of harm’s way. Ashala Wolf and her Tribe of fellow Illegals have taken refuge in the Firstwood, a forest eerily conscious of its inhabitants, where they do their best to survive and where they are free to practice their abilities. But when Ashala is compelled to venture outside her territory, she is betrayed by a friend and captured by an enemy. Injured and vulnerable, with her own Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to a machine that will pull secrets from her mind. It’s only a matter of time before the machine ferrets out the location of the Tribe. Her betrayer, Justin Connor, is ever-present, saving her life when she wishes to die and watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf? 

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Legend by Marie Lu
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
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3 Responses to Diversity Book Club: Novels by Diverse Authors – Part One, by Lori Ann Palma

  1. Pingback: Diversity Book Club: Novels by Diverse Authors – Part One – Lori Ann Palma

  2. Pingback: Diversity Book Club: Novels by Diverse Authors – Part Two, by Lori Ann Palma | EasternPennPoints

  3. Pingback: Diversity Book Club: Novels by Diverse Authors – Part Two – Lori Ann Palma

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