Looking for something new to read? Here’s a round-up of a few novels you should check out (the titles are linked to Amazon, but most are available for purchase at Barnes & Noble, as well):
By Your Side by Monique Thomas
Being married had taught school teacher Skylar Dennis many things but getting a divorce was her greatest lesson learned. She is living her life as she wants it and has the love of friends. She has vowed to never get in a serious relationship. She may miss going home to the same person every night but the thought of being hurt again was not an option.
The world could be at Mystique St. Claire’s feet if she wanted but all she focused on was her life as an art gallery owner and artist. Many women had tried to get the attention of the tall and mysterious beauty but she only had eyes for Skylar Dennis. It was time to make her move but she needed Skylar to walk with her.
For Sizakele by Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene
Taylor, a queer Nigerian college student, is in a passionate relationship with Lee, a black American basketball-playing pianist. When Taylor develops romantic feelings for Sy, a Cameroonian photographer whose similarities make them instant family, Taylor battles Lee’s jealousy. As Taylor encounters challenges to her femme and African identities, she finds ways, through the kinship of her friends, to define herself on her own terms. For Sizakele addresses transcontinental identity, intimate partner violence, queer gender and how we love as illuminators of who we are.
Lipstick Dom by T. Styles
Echo Kelly has a secret only her diary knows about. But when her younger sister discovers her in an uncompromising position, she uses the information as blackmail, making her world a living hell. Her burden grows when she falls in love with her best friend who is all about money, which Echo doesn’t have. After being rejected from her mother and first love, Echo goes away to find herself, resurfacing years later as a powerful drug boss with an insatiable sexual drive. Before long her BFF returns, married to a dangerous man with ulterior motives. Soon old feelings from the past bubble to the surface and Echo finds herself caught between two loves. One who is passive aggressive and the other who would do anything to maintain Echo’s heart, including kill. Lipstick Dom is for ladies who love ladies and T. Styles’ fans who appreciate a drama-filled love story.
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.
Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere—until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca might be Etta’s salvation…but can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?
Women absolutely love Cleopatra Giovanni, however, the widely-adored Cleopatra doesn’t love them back—not anymore. She only has eyes for her beloved wife, Jacqueline. While her picture-perfect life inspires some, it brings out pure jealousy in others. The envious do everything in their power to tear these two newlyweds apart. Supriti, the new woman in town who doesn’t take “no” for an answer, is just one of the many oppositions this couple has to face. This feat of love in book form is filled with more dark secrets and more recklessness than anyone should ever have to handle. These countless demons, heart-wrenching deceptions, and destroyed dreams are what cause the steadfast Cleopatra to question everything—her marriage included. Will Cleopatra betray her vows? Will she even have a choice in the matter? The real question is… Will their love conquer all—Again? This 554-page epic romance will capture your heart, crush it, and revive it at the very same time. Will you TOO get caught up in this beautiful disaster?
The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America by Tamara Winfrey Harris
Politics & Social Sciences/Feminist Theory
What’s wrong with black women? Not a damned thing!
The Sisters Are Alright exposes anti–black-woman propaganda and shows how real black women are pushing back against distorted cartoon versions of themselves.
When African women arrived on American shores, the three-headed hydra—servile Mammy, angry Sapphire, and lascivious Jezebel—followed close behind. In the ’60s, the Matriarch, the willfully unmarried baby machine leeching off the state, joined them. These stereotypes persist to this day through newspaper headlines, Sunday sermons, social media memes, cable punditry, government policies, and hit song lyrics. Emancipation may have happened more than 150 years ago, but America still won’t let a sister be free from this coven of caricatures.
Tamara Winfrey Harris delves into marriage, motherhood, health, sexuality, beauty, and more, taking sharp aim at pervasive stereotypes about black women. She counters warped prejudices with the straight-up truth about being a black woman in America. “We have facets like diamonds,” she writes. “The trouble is the people who refuse to see us sparkling.”
Sound by Alexandra Duncan
Young Adult/Science Fiction
Sound is the stand-alone companion to Alexandra Duncan’s acclaimed debut novel Salvage, which was praised by internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins as “brilliant, feminist science fiction.”
As a child, Ava’s adopted sister, Miyole, watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole, along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia, embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever. Harrowing, provocative, and stunning, Sound begins roughly a decade after the action in the author’s critically acclaimed Salvage, and is a powerful stand-alone companion.
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
Coming of Age
Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.
Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls.
When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.
As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti’s political coming of age, Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.