Tag Archive | African American

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (fiction) – police + prejudice = self-protection or murder?

book cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas published by Balzer + Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comUnarmed, he’s shot by police.
Horrified, she’s the only witness.
Telling the truth will endanger her family – can she do it?

At 16, Starr should be concerned with grades, love, and her future – not drive-by shootings and police brutality in her poor neighborhood, not white kids at her suburban private school “protesting” Kahlil’s death as a way to skip class, not worrying if her testimony will bring down the wrath of gang members and police.

Happy book birthday to The Hate U Give – wish it could be purely fiction, instead of ‘straight from the headlines’ lived experience…

How can we stop this cycle of threat, miscommunication, and death?
**kmm

Book info:The Hate U Give / Angie Thomas. Balzer + Bray, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kahlil’s murder during a routine traffic stop upends 16 year old Starr’s world as she mourns her friend’s death with her inner city neighbors, struggles to explain it to her white prep school classmates, and must decide whether to testify against that police officer, endangering everything.

Starr is two versions of herself – automatically cool black girl at the suburban prep school her parents sacrifice to pay for and then “Big Mav’s daughter who work in the store” in their poor neighborhood.

Truth or safety? Gangs and their turf wars are woven into Garden Heights.
Will her testimony send the white cop to trial? Not likely.
Can she keep being two different people, at home and at school? Tension, pressure…

If white boyfriend Chris finds out that Starr is the only witness to Kahlil’s death, surely he’ll treat her differently, and that she just couldn’t bear.

Too true, too real, The Hate U Give moves from one fatal mistake to a torrent of prejudgment and violence.

Racism, riot, murders: Dreamland Burning (fiction), by Jennifer Latham

book cover of Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham published by Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRioting and looting for 14 hours,
Murder, torture, arson –
Whites erasing black community

Will is already uncomfortable as son of white father and Osage mother, so when the KKK starts recruiting in Tulsa just as he’s getting to know a Negro brother and sister, how should he react?

Rowan didn’t expect to find a body in her Tulsa yard this summer, or to swap comfortable lab internship for charity clinic work on ‘that side’ of town, or to be slammed with prejudices that her black mother and white father had shielded her from.

Listen to an interview with author Jennifer Latham here for some deep background and insights on why she wrote this book about this 1921 event which wasn’t openly discussed by black or white families in Tulsa for over 50 years.

Happy book birthday to Dreamland Burning! Look for it at your local library or independent bookstore, and find Jennifer’s first book Scarlett Undercover (my no-spoiler recommendation here) there, too.

How to see friendship as a bridge instead of a wall?
**kmm

Book info: Dreamland Burning / Jennifer Latham. Little Brown, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: First day of Rowan’s summer vacation – time to sleep in before lab internship begins, text her best friend, find a dead body in the back yard!? As the biracial teen investigates, details about Tulsa’s vicious and never-discussed 1921 race riot hit her as hard as the new episodes of prejudice she experiences today.

Working in Pop’s store, William sees his father sell Victrolas to Negro families, despite Jim Crow laws. Vernon Fish is recruiting Pop for the KKK and mocks Will as ‘half-breed’ for his Osage mother. Will decides to dare as his Pop does when a black teen wants to buy a record player, little imagining that getting to know Joseph and little sister Ruby as people instead of Negroes may shortly endanger all their lives.

Schedule glitch nixes Rowan’s resume-building internship, so she’s directed to work at the free clinic way across town from her fancy neighborhood and private school. She’ll check with her parents later.

In 1921, reports of a Negro man assaulting a white woman spread like wildfire, and white Tulsans begin attacking the black Greenwood section of town with nooses, guns, and greed.

Can Will really shoot anyone coming to the shop during the riot?
Who is the body under the floor of the servant house?
How does Rowan’s story today converge with Will’s actions over 90 years ago?

Told in voices past and present, this long-silenced episode of history comes vividly alive, as Rowan tries to understand what really happened after World War I when Will struggled to help Joseph and Ruby survive.

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights, by Stephen Emond (book review) – challenging times for first love

book cover of Bright Lights Dark Nights by Stephen Emond published by Roaring Brook | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe’s white, she’s black,
Foo Fighters fans, first love delights!
Their friends and family? not so happy…

Until scintillating Naomi comes into Walter’s very dull urban life, he hadn’t really worried about girls before. Complicates things a bit, that she’s little sister of his pal for all things comic books and rap.

Shouldn’t be a big issue that they’re an interracial couple in these days, but then his cop dad is reprimanded for racial profiling and decides to present his side of the case on social media…

Read chapter one here (without the artwork, alas) courtesy of the publisher, then check out the story in all its duality – black and white, love and anger, words and art, urban smooth and suburban entrenchment, personal responsibility and anonymous attacks – at your local library or independent bookstore, as hardcover or new August 2016 paperback.

When to stand together in the face of society’s obstacles?
**kmm

Book info:  Bright Lights, Dark Nights / Stephen Emond. Roaring Brook, 2015 (hardcover); 2016, Square Fish (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A racial profiling scandal gone viral imperils the new relationship between Walter and Naomi, as his white cop dad ‘tries too hard’ to solve vandalism in their grim urban neighborhood.

Why can’t they just enjoy the Foo Fighters’ music and start falling toward being in love?
Shouldn’t being an interracial couple just be normal now?
How does the old news of his parents’ divorce become a new crisis?

Dealing with guys who think Naomi should stay with her old friends, with his family’s ingrained racism louder than ever, and with Dad’s sudden insistence on clearing his name on social media, Walter isn’t sure of himself or of Naomi’s affection, then things really get tough.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights is an illustrated story of first love, music, self-respect, classic movies, and finding your place in the world.

Fiction shows difficult truths in free audiobooks

More free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Each download period runs from Thursday through Wednesday, so grab this pair of strong stories now – you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of audiobook How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon | Read by Cherise Boothe, Shari Peele, Kevin R. Free, Patricia R. Floyd, Avery Glymph, Korey Jackson, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Peter Jay Fernandez, Ezra Knight, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Brian Hutchinson Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com How It Went Down (download here June 16-22)
by Kekla Magoon
Read by Cherise Boothe, Shari Peele, Kevin R. Free, Patricia R. Floyd, Avery Glymph, Korey Jackson, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Peter Jay Fernandez, Ezra Knight, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Brian Hutchinson
Published by Recorded Books

I recommended this many-voiced story in early 2015 here – still relevant, alas still being repeated.

Black teen Tariq is shot by white Jack – now police, neighbors, family, and friends of both men try to untangle this not-so-simple tale.

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (download here June 16-22)CD cover of audiobook Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson | Read by Alan Bomar Jones Published by Tantor Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by James Weldon Johnson
Read by Alan Bomar Jones
Published by Tantor Media

As the first fictionalized memoir published by a black author, this compelling look at the life and travails of a biracial man strongly influenced many authors of the Harlem Renaissance and rings true today.

How can fiction help us reflect on real life?
**kmm

U is uncertainty & Rules for 50/50 Chances, by Kate McGovern (book review)

book cover of Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern published by Farrar Straus Giroux | recommended on BooksYALove.com Hereditary disease.
Test to find out
or live till it grabs you?

Rose’s mother has Huntington’s Disease and is losing control of herself and her abilities bit by bit.  At 18, Rose can take the genetic test that tells whether she inherited the fatal disease or not. Then she meets Caleb…

Would you want to know how you’re going to die?
**kmm

p.s. May is Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month, so look for a Team Hope HD Walk near you.

Book info: Rules for 50/50 Chances / Kate McGovern. Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers , 2015 [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her mother’s condition worsens, 18-year-old Rose wonders whether taking the genetic test to see if she also has Huntington’s Disease would stop her from dancing ballet or planning for college or letting new friend Caleb have her heart.

C for compassion – in a Valkyrie maiden of death? by Kate O’Hearn (book review)

book cover of Valkyrie by Kate O'Hearn published by Aladdin | BooksYALove.com War! Glory! Valhalla!
Death. Separation. Loss.
Soul-harvest is a tricky business.

After seeing warriors of all eras battle endlessly for fun and glory in Valhalla, the youngest Valkyrie thinks humans are all war-crazed savages.

But her promise to a dead soldier takes Freya and her raven companion to Chicago, and human school with its bullies, and being hunted by Odin’s own Dark Searchers for breaking the law!

Read the first chapter here (courtesy of the author) and meet Freya as she faces a destiny that she longs to change.

Struggling against “the way it’s always been” – yes?
**kmm

Book info: Valkyrie / Kate O’Hearn. Aladdin, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Allowed to visit Earth only when reaping valiant warriors’ souls, young Freya defiantly escapes Valhalla to fulfill a soldier’s last request, but at what cost?

As the youngest Valkyrie battle-maiden, Freya is reluctant to interact with humans as they die during their petty wars. Her first soul-harvest may be her last as she agrees to help Tyrone’s family in Chicago, against Odin’s law.

Trying to camouflage her wings, listening to her raven companion (a little), helping kids stand up to school bullies – so far so good, until she begins interfering with Angels of Death, and Odin discovers that she’s on Earth!

Can she protect Tyrone’s family without giving away her identity?
Is Loki the trickster on her side or not?
How far will Odin go to retrieve this absent Valkyrie?

First in a series that brings Norse legend oh-so close to modern Midgard/Earth. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Summer of Chasing Mermaids, by Sarah Ockler (book review) – voice lost, heart found?

book cover of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler published by Simon TeenA singer with no more voice,
a young mermaid expert ignored,
a dutiful son without a plan B…

No surgical procedure can ever restore Elyse’s voice, but time spent with the funny (cousin and her outspoken BFF), the darling (mermaid-obsessed young Sebastian), and the heartbreaker (Christian does what??) may start the healing of her musical soul.

Ockler writes of another summer of enormous changes in The Book of Broken Hearts  (my recommendation here).

If your greatest talent/gift/strength were taken away forever, how would you cope?
**kmm

Book info: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids / Sarah Ockler.  Simon Pulse, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After a boat accident robs Elyse of her singing voice, she lands in her aunt’s tiny Oregon town where the Trinidadian teen finds herself falling for the wrong guy and caring too much about the shady mayor’s big plans.

Leaving her twin sister in Tobago was so hard, but staying to watch Natalie continue the singing career which had been theirs together was impossible.

The warm Caribbean stole her voice; perhaps the chilly Pacific currents can heal her soul. But if Elyse ignores her cousin’s warnings about heart-breaker Christian or helps the summer guy’s little brother search for mermaids, the sea may try to claim her forever.

A bet between the mayor and Christian’s dad puts Aunt Lemon’s home and gallery in jeopardy, as whichever son wins the Pirate’s Regatta will win the property it stands on.

Will the mayor’s desire for money turn off-the-beaten-path Atargatis Cove into just another tourist town?
Can Christian and Elyse rebuild his sailboat in time for the regatta?
Can Elyse face down her fear of being on the water again and help him win?

Of course, sweet little Sebastian should be able march in the Mermaid Parade, and the property developers must be stopped, and Elyse should decide if she can afford to lose her heart…  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

To Harlem and days of change with SYNC audiobooks

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC take us to the African-American experience in Harlem of the 1950s, through personalities famous and everyday.

Click on the title to download either or both of these complete audiobooks. Remember that they’re only available from Thursday through Wednesday, but you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

Bookmark the SYNC site now so you can download great audiobooks all summer long: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of X  by Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon, Read by Dion Graham, Published by Brilliance Audio X: A Novel
by Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon
Read by Dion Graham
Published by Brilliance Audio

The daughter of Malcolm X tells of her famous dad’s years as a young adult, struggling to excel in a system where the odds were stacked against him.

CD cover of Here in Harlem by Walter Dean Myers | Read by Muhammad Cunningham, Michael Early, Patricia R. Floyd, Kevin R. Free, Arthur French, Dion Graham, Nathan Hinton, Ezra Knight, Robin Miles, Lizan Mitchell, Gail Nelson, Monica Patton, Charles Turner Published by Live Oak Media

 

Here in Harlem
by Walter Dean Myers
Read by Muhammad Cunningham, Michael Early, Patricia R. Floyd, Kevin R. Free, Arthur French, Dion Graham, Nathan Hinton, Ezra Knight, Robin Miles, Lizan Mitchell, Gail Nelson, Monica Patton, Charles Turner
Published by Live Oak Media

Many voices ring out in Myers’ 54 poems about his beloved Harlem, inspired by The Spoon River Anthology – both feature poems where neighbors, friend and enemy alike, talk about their everyday lives.

What other titles reflecting neighborhoods and linked lives do you recommend?
**kmm

S is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli (book review) – secret admirer? too many options!

book cover of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli published by Balzer + BrayA secret correspondent,
in this age of tell-all social media?
Too romantic for words!
But who can it be?

Hard to blame Simon for wanting to keep all drama in theater class, but he knows that mysterious “BlueGreen” of flirtatious e-mails is a guy at his school and really, really wants to meet in person.

That is, if he can keep his best friends from exploding at each other and outwit a blackmailing classmate who wants to out him before he’s ready.

This early-April release should be in your local library or independent bookstore – if not, ask for it!

Simon says the ‘homo sapiens agenda’ is that straight and white are the norm options, but he believes there should be no default setting for a human being! What do you think?
**kmm

Book info: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda / Becky Albertalli. Balzer+Bray, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss.

My book talk: Simon has a bit part in the play, but when a classmate threatens to publish his flirty emails with an anonymous guy at school, the Georgia teen must decide whether to step up to protect the sweetest guy he’s never met or set up his best friend Abby on the most awkward date ever.

As ‘Jacques’ he shares favorite music and deepest dreams with ‘Blue’ but they haven’t met in person. No one will probably care when Simon comes out publicly, but Blue hasn’t come out either, so letting nerdy Marty put their relationship on Creekwood High’s gossip tumblr isn’t the junior’s decision to make.

Best friend Abby has a huge crush on best friend Nick (who is completely oblivious), Blue wants to keep his growing relationship with Simon as email-only, and Oliver Twist rehearsals are getting strange as Marty always tries talking to Abby and Simon wonders who, who, WHO is Blue?

As hints about their true identities creep into their emails (Blue is Jewish, Jacques has two sisters), the guys discuss coming-out to their families, music to dream of the future by, and whether they should stay forever unknown to each other.

Wait, not ever get together in person?
Is this a love story or a tragedy? Simon sighs… (One of 7,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)