Updated: Feb 14, 2020
*Here are some books that center Black girls/women that I've personally enjoyed (in no particular order) over the last 6 years. The list is not exhaustive, but these are my personal faves.* (click any of the cover photos or names to learn more or to purchase)
Another Brooklyn follows a woman named August as she reflects on her memories from her youth after running into a long-time childhood friend that she grew up with in Brooklyn. This book will definitely have you reflecting on all the fun and silly hood rat things you did with friends when you were 13, and possibly wondering how those girls are doing now?
“For God so loved the world, their father would say, he gave his only begotten son. But what about his daughters, I wondered. What did God do with his daughters?”
2. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
This debut novel explores the psyche of a Nigerian American student with multiple personalities as she navigates her trauma and healing. Written in an extremely poetic way, this book was one of the best I read in 2018. Emezi is non-binary, and the main character is very loosely based on their life. This book was a bit of a ride but I could not put it down. I knew immediately when I finished it that I would read it again.
“The world in my head has been far more real than the one outside—maybe that’s the exact definition of madness, come to think of it.”
3. The Mothers by Brit Bennett
This debut novel follows a beautiful and college bound high-schooler named Nadia who is coping with the recent loss of her mother. She looks to her father, her church, and to a boy for the support she needs but doesn’t always find it. When she secretly becomes pregnant, everything about Nadia’s relationships change. As an adult, she reflects on how they did for the best and for the worst.
“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around in our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”
4. The Bluest Eye by toni morrison
Perhaps Toni Morrison’s most famous book, The Bluest Eye is told through the eyes of a little black girl who befriends, out of pity, another girl in her school named Pecola. Pecola prays every night that she has blue eyes. We see the psychological effects that racism and other traumas have on her throughout the story. I’m gonna be honest – Toni didn’t come to play with this one. This isn’t an easy or light read by any means, but it’s definitely a good one. This book had me shook for some time after finishing it, but it did inspire some very deep reflection of my own internalized racism. You will not regret reading this. It’s renowned for a reason.
“The death of self-esteem can occur quickly, easily in children, before their ego has “legs,” so to speak. Couple the vulnerability of youth with indifferent parents, dismissive adults, and a world, which, in its language, laws, and images, re-enforces despair, and the journey to destruction is sealed.”
5. 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter
On a lighter note, 32 Candles is another debut novel about a black woman named Davie who runs away from home at 15 years old to start her life over in L.A. Years later, as a somewhat successful singer in Hollywood, she runs into the boy she had a deep crush on all those years ago in high school. This book actually had me laughing out loud and is probably one of my favorite “chicklit”/”romcom” books. It’s super cute and has some great life lessons about family, community, self-love, and honesty. Oh and it’s obviously a play on the movie 16 candles.
“I will never let a man hand me an Invitation to Crazy.”
6. Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie
It’s a love story, but it’s also about the journey of a Nigerian student who analyzes race and white liberalism, among other things after she discovers she is “Black” upon coming to America. It’s a really good story about the experience of non native born Black Americans in America. Black people who immigrate to America from across the diaspora often find stark differences in culture and how racism manifests here.
“Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it”
7. The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Soulja
This book is considered a classic now. It’s probably the only urban novel that I’d recommend to people. It follows the story of Winter Santiaga, the daughter of an NY kingpin, and her journey to survive after her father (and all of his wealth) are taken away from her and her family. It’s an analysis of a lot of things: materialism, drugs in the black community, loyalty, and accountability. A lot of people that I speak to who don’t like this book believe that Winter’s character was unrealistic. But I think what Sister Souljah was trying to explain is that this IS/WAS the reality for a lot of hood rich black girls. Add in a dash of narcissism, and well…
“We pay for every little choice we make. You traded everyone else’s life for yours. I traded my life for everyone else’s.”
Have you ready any of these? What did you think? What would you add to the list?