Thought-provoking fiction and nonfiction books to read or listen to, in print and online for teens and adults.
YA fiction, e-book, audiobook on cd, and e-audiobook. 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. Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn't just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public made her out to be. Age: 14+
YA fiction book, e-book, audiobook on cd, e-audiobook, and large print. After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died. Age: 14+
Adult fiction e-book. Thurman's debut novel broke new ground as an exploration of issues of "colorism," intra-racial prejudice, and internalized racism in African American life. Its protagonist, the young Emma Lou Morgan, is simply "too dark" for a world in which every kind of advancement seems to require a light complexion. Seeking acceptance and opportunity, she moves from Idaho to California to New York. Harlem, the "city of surprises," is in many ways the novel's true subject, its low-down, licentious streets, glittering cabarets, and variegated cast of characters offering a rich backdrop for Emma Lou's ambivalent, picaresque progress. Age: Adult.
Adult fiction book, e-book, audiobook on cd, and e-audiobook. “Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie's children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise."-- Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
YA fiction book, and e-book. Tired of being singled out at her mostly-white private school as someone who needs support, high school junior Jade would rather participate in the school's amazing Study Abroad program than join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls. Age: 13+
Adult fiction book, e-book, e-audiobook, and large print. As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, 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." Age: 15+
Adult nonfiction book, e-book, and audiobook on cd. In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. Age: Adult.
YA fiction book, and e-book. Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He's the out-and-proud, super-likable guy who friends, faculty, and fellow students alike admire for his cheerful confidence. The only person who isn't entirely sure about Remy Cameron is Remy himself. Under pressure to write an A+ essay defining who he is and who he wants to be, Remy embarks on an emotional journey toward reconciling the outward labels people attach to him with the real Remy Cameron within. Age: 13+
Adult nonfiction book, and e-book. “Our Black Sons Matter is a powerful collection of original essays, letters, and poems that addresses both the deep joys and the very real challenges of raising black boys today. From Trayvon Martin to Tamir Rice, the list of young black men who have suffered racial violence continues to grow. Young black people also deal with profound stereotypes and structural barriers. And yet, young black men are often paradoxically revered as icons of cultural cool. Our Black Sons Matter features contributions from women across the racial spectrum who are raising or have raised black sons--whether biologically their sons or not. The book courageously addresses painful trauma, challenges assumptions, and offers insights and hope through the deep bonds between mothers and their children. Both a collective testimony and a collective love letter, Our Black Sons Matter sends the message that black lives matter and speaks with the universal love of all mothers who fear for the lives of their children."--Provided by publisher. Age: Adult.
Adult documentary DVD, and e-video. Master documentary filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin's original words and a flood of rich archival material. A journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. Age: PG13.