Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Ten Books That Feature Black Female Characters
Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Ten Books That Feature _____ Characters and I decided on black women. All of these books feature black women as main characters and the authors are also black women.
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This is one of the best books of 2017. Please read it. The novel was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and it does a great job of telling one story about how police brutality affects lives, and all the ways that it's not a clear-cut issue. The characters are incredibly well crafted, both teens and adults. Amazingly, it's a debut novel.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Also a teen novel, this one focuses on immigration issues. There's also a romance. If you like it, you should check out her other novel Everything, Everything which I also really enjoyed.
3. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Vividly detailed historical novel that takes place in 1960s Nigeria. I've read all of Adichie's books, but this one remains my favorite. I also highly recommend Americanah.
4. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
I don't know why these books all have "sun" in the title. This play about a black family in the 1950s who are trying to better their lives. Even though it's a play, it somehow felt richly detailed and I could picture everything as it was happening. Beneatha is a smart, ambitious young woman who wants to become a doctor, and she tries to expand her horizons by trying out different things, which her mother characterizes as "flitting around" by I see more as experimentation and trying to figure out who she is and what she wants to do.
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
In this harrowing story, a woman named Mireille is kidnapped while visiting her parents in Haiti. The story is graphic and real, and we get both her experiences during her captivity and the aftermath and recovery. Roxane Gay is one of the most talented writers out there, and I'm already behind on reading her books.
6. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
Ok, totally different. This is a romance about a free black women who goes undercover as a spy during the Civil War. Elle Burns is incredibly smart (she has a photographic memory) but she's also very resourceful and intuitive, and stronger and more mature than most romance heroines.
7. Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
Another romance! This is the first in a series which takes place in the Old West, so it's after the Civil War but still not a super-friendly time for young black women to be setting out on their own like Eddy Carmichael has done. But I loved how she settled in a new town and started a new life there (which is totally my book catnip for some reason.) I also enjoyed the second in the series, Breathless.
Now I'm going back in time a bit because there are some classics I want to include even though I read them way back before I even considered having a blog.
8. Push by Sapphire
This is the book that the movie Precious is based on. It's very hard to read because of the graphic violence, but that's what people sometimes have to endure, like this teenage girl. It stuck with me for a very long time, and then all those wounds reopened when I saw the movie.
A classic in urban fiction, I read this in my early 20s I think, and was so struck by it because everything about this story was so incredibly different from anything I had experienced. The main character, Winter, grows up in the inner city and her dad is a drug kingpin. She gets very caught up in the glitz and glamour and becomes very materialistic, but I think later on she figures out that maybe it's not all worth it. I remember being rather impressed by how driven and focused Winter was in going after what she wanted.
10. Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker
There was a period in my 20s when I read everything I could get my hands on by Alice Walker and Toni Morrison and out of all those books, this is the one that sticks with me. It's about a woman caught between African and American culture who ends up being genitally mutilated because that's what women in her tribe do. I felt so terrible for her and so traumatized by what she put herself through.