I loved The Chaos. It’s accessible and challenging all at once, touches on body image, colorism, bullying, ableism, sex, has multiple LGBTQ characters, and is, quite simply, a very interesting and fun read. I am not familiar with any of the others, but I plan to read them; for those who are looking for works that feature black teen protagonists but teeter on the edge of adult novels, I would suggest Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death. Also, Okorafor’s Akata Witch is a great, mostly young adult novel.
In her insightful article, ‘Kid Lit Equality – Fantasy or Reality?’ author Zetta Elliot says “There’s clearly a direct link between the misrepresentation of Black youth as inherently criminal and the justification given by those who brazenly take their lives. The publishing industry can’t solve this problem, but the relative lack of children’s books by and about people of color nonetheless functions as a kind of “symbolic annihilation.” Despite the fact that the majority of school-age children in the US are now kids of color, the US publishing industry continues to produce books that overwhelmingly feature white children only. The message is clear: the lives of kids of color don’t matter.”
While there should be much more literature written for and about Black youth, there are several great works out there. Below is a list of some of the better and more unique works for YA readers, aged 12-18…
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