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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Book recommendations for Black History Month

Courtesy of Riverhead Books

During Black History Month, it is important to take a moment to not only recognize Black authors, but also appreciate the representation that is being shared through literature. These pieces of literature are the modern voices of African American writers, all published during or after 2020. There are many stories, fictional and nonfictional, that highlight triumph over adversity. All these stories deserve to be read and enjoyed during this month of celebration.    

“Real Life,” by Brandon Taylor 

Brandon Taylor’s debut novel, “Real Life,” is a coming-of-age story that shares the story of Wallace, a Black, queer doctoral student at a Midwestern university. The novel expands on issues of microaggressions and feeling out of place.  

Reviewer and author Roxane Gay wrote on Goodreads, “The way Taylor writes about bodies in the physical world is one of the highlights in a novel full of highlights. Truly, this is stunning work from a writer who wields his craft in absolutely unforgettable ways.” 

“The Vanishing Half,” by Brit Bennett 

Winner of Goodreads’ Best Historical Fiction award in 2020, Brit Bennett’s novel “The Vanishing Half” flows between the 1950s and 1990s as twin sisters Desiree and Stella share each of their experiences living in the fictional town of Mallard and the reasons why they left. The perspective changes to that of Desiree’s and Stella’s daughters as they learn they are related. The book switches between these four characters, allowing the reader the chance to understand each person. 

“The Vanish Half” is “a riveting, slow-burning novel about the infinite ways one dreams of rewriting their life by erasing their past,” one reviewer wrote on Goodreads 

“Punching the Air,” by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam 

“Punching the Air” is a novel in verse about a boy named Amal Shahid who is wrongfully convicted of starting a fight at the age of 16 and arrested for throwing the first punch. In reality, Amal fled from the scene and admitted fault out of fear. Each poem shares the story of how Amal aims to keep his humanity. The novel is written by Ibi Zoboi, an award-winning author, and Yusef Salaam, a prison reform activist who was wrongfully convicted himself.  

Many reviewers have said that this book will stay with them for the rest of their lives and that while the novel is fiction, there is a heartbreaking reality to it. 

“Amal’s story is unfortunately not a rare occurrence for so many in the black community. The radiation of tragedy that occurs when a young man is ripped from his family is well described,” one Goodreads reviewer said.  

“Monday’s Not Coming,” by Tiffany D. Jackson 

Tiffany D. Jackson’s novel “Monday’s Not Coming” is about the disappearance of teenager Monday Charles and how her best friend, Claudia, deals with it. Nobody but Claudia seems to notice that Monday is missing; this novel unveils a deep friendship through issues of abuse, racism and domestic violence.  

“This book was so sad because there’s so much truth behind how often Black girls go missing and how society doesn’t give these girls the justice they deserve,” wrote Shawnaci Schroeder on Goodreads.  

“Maame,” by Jessica George  

“An utterly charming and deeply moving portrait of the joys—and the guilt—of trying to find your own way in life,” author Celeste Ng wrote of “Maame,” Jessica George’s debut novel.  

The book is a late coming-of-age story that shares themes of a complicated family life. Maddie, the main character, is a self-proclaimed late bloomer who has been taking care of her father after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Once her mother gets back from a trip, Maddie takes the chance to leave her home and start living life.  

“Before I Let Go,” by Kennedy Ryan  

“Before I Let Go” is a contemporary romance book by Kennedy Ryan that explores the regrowing relationship of Yasmen and Josiah Wade, a divorced couple trying to run their business while co-parenting. This second-chance novel is emotional and passionate.  

“Kennedy Ryan absolutely made me feel ALL the emotions that both Josiah and Yasmen felt. Her writing doesn’t hide the ball, it is raw, real and relatable,” one reviewer wrote on Goodreads.  

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