This month’s readalike is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Even if you don’t usually read young adult fiction, you may have read about this one in the The New York Times article by Alexandra Alter last month, “New Crop of Young Adult Novels Explores Race and Police Brutality.”
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017) is a bestselling young adult novel whose main character, Starr Carter, is the only witness to a white police officer shooting an unarmed African-American teenager. Told in Starr’s voice, it’s the story of her struggle to speak out against the pressure to keep quiet, in addition to the everyday pressure of switching between her mostly white private school and mostly black home neighborhood environments.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (2017): Allegedly is the story of Mary Addison, a sixteen-year-old black girl who has been living in a group home since being convicted of killing a three-month-old white baby when she was nine. Now pregnant herself and knowing she’ll be forced to give up her baby, Mary comes forward to say she did not kill baby Alyssa. Told in narrative form mixed with interviews, case studies, and depositions, Allegedly examines the juvenile justice system and social services system, as well as the line between right and wrong.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (2015): Two teenage boys – one black, one white – from the same school confront racism and police brutality from different angles when the black student is accused of stealing and is beaten by a police officer. The white student witnesses the violence, which is inflicted by his best friend’s older brother, a father figure to him.
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (2014): Seventeen narrators tell the story of a black teenager shot and killed by a white gang member from their individual viewpoints.The multiple perspectives often contradict one another, but together paint a portrait of the last few seconds of Tariq Johnson’s life. According to School Library Journal, “Heartbreaking and unputdownable, this is an important book about perception and race.”
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015): Written as a letter to the author’s teenage son, Between the World and Me is about coming to terms with what it means to be black in America today. Winner of the National Book Award.
They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a new era in America’s racial justice movement by Wesley Lowery (2016): Washington Post reporter Lowery brings a personal angle to the #blacklivesmatter movement, focusing on the individuals behind the larger movement: the victims’ families, protestors, activists, and other reporters as he writes about the aftermath of the deaths of several black men in different U.S. cities.
After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson (2008): Set in the borough of Queens in New York in the 1990s, this is the story of three girls’ friendship as they grow from childhood to adolescence, bonding through their love for Tupac’s music. Newbery Honor Book.
Black and White by Paul Volponi (2005): Marcus and Eddie, two Long Island high school seniors and basketball teammates known as “Black and White,” turn to crime to get money, but are eventually caught. The justice system treats them differently and their paths diverge: one goes to prison, one goes to college on a basketball scholarship.