Although some beaches and parks are now open to the public, many of us aren’t making plans to pack our summer totes and picnic baskets to explore the great outdoors just yet.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t escape into new narratives, and entrench ourselves in magical worlds. Whether you find yourself in the mood this summer for timely stories exploring race, family dramas that will make your own seem less dire, or a fun rump in the sun with a witty rom-com, this list of new titles from Black authors has plenty for you to choose from. Read on to the end and let me know which ones you’ll be reading in the months ahead.
Make sure you’re on the #BlackGirlLit list to learn about upcoming releases from Black authors.
The Vanishing Half
There’s a reason Brit Bennett’s sophomore novel is topping every summer reading list this year. The engrossing bestseller follows the lives of Desiree and Stella Vignes--identical twins who ran away from home as teens. Now in their adulthood, one sister has returned home with a child and the other is secretly passing for white while hiding her past from her own husband and child. Told from multiple POVs, this emotional family drama weaves together time and generations and explores the impact of the past and how it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations.
Party of Two
What's summer without a light-hearted read that gets your heart pumping? Jasmine Guillory is back with the fifth novel in her "Wedding Date" series. In this latest installment, a chance meeting with a handsome stranger turns into a whirlwind affair that gets everyone talking when Olivia Monroe finds herself on clandestine dates and in silly disguises with hotshot junior senator Max Powell. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny threatens their new relationship.
Saving Ruby King
Readers may find it hard to believe this is a debut novel from newcomer Catherine Adel West. This timely novel, set in the South Side of Chicago follows a young woman determined to protect her friend while a long-buried secret threatens to unravel both their families. Family, faith, and long-held traumas come full circle when the murder of Ruby King’s mother is dismissed by the police as another act of violence and she’s left to deal with the devastating loss on her own with her violent father. Fans of "Queen Sugar" and "Greenleaf" will appreciate how well Catherine threads race, abuse, and growing up in the church through the pages of this emotional read.
The Boyfriend Project
Live tweets of a horrific date reveals a connection between three women, who instead of fighting over a man, decide to kick him to the curb and become a girl squad! Empowered by their sisterhood, the three new besties make a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men and no dating. Which is exactly when the man of Samiah Brook’s dream arrives to make her question everything.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown: A Novel
Danika Brown doesn’t have time for romance. So when she finds herself in a fake relationship after a video of security guard Zafir Ansari rescuing her in a workplace fire grill gone wrong goes viral, she thinks the universe is answering her request for the perfect friend-with-benefits situationship. But Zafir, a hopeless romantic, is interested in more than a few quick rolls in the sack and sets out to change her views on love.
Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America
A recognized expert on fair voting and civic engagement, politician and activist Stacey Abrams provides a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principle of democracy have been and continue to be under attack in her latest release which offers a blueprint to end voter suppression, empower citizens, and take back our country.
The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir
Forced to flee their home on foot and smuggled across the border to Sierra Leone, Moore chronicles her family’s harrowing journey from her early childhood escaping the First Liberian Civil War to adjusting to a new life in Texas as a Black woman and immigrant.
Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture
From pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, and into today's Natural Hair Movement, Guardian contributor and prominent BBC race correspondent Emma Dabiri takes us on a historical and cultural investigation of the global history of racism by examining the ways in which black hair has been appropriated and stigmatized throughout history. Her essay collection, which covers a broad range of topics including the criminalization of dreadlocks, Kim Kardashian's braids, body politics, and race, will resonate with readers who are well aware of how often Black hair is used as a tool for discrimination.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Inspired by West African folklore, this YA fantasy has been referred to as the Black "Aladdin". This first installment in a gripping fantasy duology, follows a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee who find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction. Readers can expect to be dazzled with magic, intrigue, and romance.
Raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother, Tarisai is sent to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?
This Is My America
“The Hate U Give” meets “Just Mercy” in this unflinching yet uplifting first novel that explores the racist injustices in the American justice system. For the last 7 years, Tracy Beaumont has been writing weekly letters to Innocence X, urging them to help free her innocent father from death row. With less than a year left before he’s executed, a white teen girl is murdered in their Texas community and Tracy’s older brother Jamal is considered a main suspect. With her brother on the run, fearing the investigation’s outcome, Tracy races against the clock to find out what really happened and save her family.
Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir
At age nineteen, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey had her world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. In her chillingly personal memoir, she explores her experience of pain, loss, and grief as an entry point into understanding the tragic course of her mother’s life and the way her own life has been shaped by a legacy of fierce love and resilience.
The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel
Akwaeke Emezi’s third novel follows a family grappling from the mysterious loss of their son. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men and his cousin Osita whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery surrounding Vivek gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.
The Black Kids
Ashley Bennett is living a charmed life until four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly violent protests engulf LA and setting the city on fire, her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots, the model Black family facade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble, and her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson. With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them? The Black Kids is a coming-of-age debut novel that explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.