Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme brought to you by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish (the button also belongs to them). This week’s theme is Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC, neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.).
I LOVE this topic, as this has been an area I’ve been trying to work on in my own reading this year and it has been really interesting for me to grow as a person and a reader by reading more diverse books.
Here are some of my favorite discoveries:
1. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern– While the plotline of this gets a little whacky, this was an interesting and addictive story about a girl with cerebral palsy and a boy with serious anxiety issues. I enjoyed seeing how these limitations affected their friendship and their lives as they move from high school to the “real world.”
2. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White– Gosh, I love Kiersten White for fun paranormal YA. I liked that her story in the short story collection, My True Love Gave to Me, featured a Hispanic girl. I was pleasantly surprised that the first novel of hers that I tried also had a main character who is dark-skinned (not that you can tell from that cover) and from an island colony of the country she is studying in.
3. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios– I absolutely adored and raced through this cute YA contemporary. It features a character with a disability and a character of low socioeconomic status. Josh has lost his leg serving as a Marine in Afghanistan. Skylar and her mom live in a trailer park and live paycheck to paycheck. Money is a constant worry for Skylar and really limits what she can see for herself in her future.
4. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie– I read this as part of a challenge I’m working on this year, which involved reading a book by an author from Africa. Adichie is Nigerian and this book is about a Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who comes to live in the United States and eventually writes a blog about race and the immigrant experience in America. It also revolves quite a bit around the man Ifemelu left behind in Nigeria and their desire to rekindle their romance. I really loved the social commentary on the black experience in America that figures heavily into this book.
5. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson– This beautiful memoir in verse is the story of Woodson’s childhood as she grows up black in the 1960s and 1970s, splitting time between the North and the South. This is seriously such a good book and Woodson’s experience is shaped by both her race and religion (Jehovah’s Witness) and the major goings-on of the Civil Rights movement are strongly present in the background of this mostly personal tale.
6. Trade Me by Courtney Milan– This romance was a fun little New Adult about a second generation Chinese American girl who simultaneously attends college and takes on the burden of supporting her family economically. Tina gets the chance to swap places with Blake, a white guy who is super rich because his dad is the founder of an Apple-like technology company. Oh yeah, and he’s a guy with an eating disorder. Of course Tina and Blake become involved romantically over the course of their agreement. I also like how Milan so subtly dropped in a transsexual side character (who will be the lead in the next book in this series!) that I got confused later in the story when it was brought up.
7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie– I love Alexie’s work for his take on the contemporary Native American experience and particularly his ability to be funny and awkward and genuine all at the same time, but his YA novel is probably my favorite of his works. This is the story of Junior, a tween/teen boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
8. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz– This book is an absolutely beautiful, excellent coming of age story about two boys growing up in 1980s El Paso. It gets the LGBT tag, but that enters spoiler territory, so I’ll just say this story is mostly about Ari and Dante’s friendship, their families (LOVE their parents), and how they grow into themselves.
9. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth– Cameron comes of age in Montana in the early 90s, dealing with coming to terms with her sexuality and the death of her parents. Her conservative, religious aunt finds out that Cameron has been experimenting with girls and sends her off to a de-gaying school in the wilderness.
10. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling– I picked this one because Rowling portrays Pagford’s poor in such an honest, frank way that was deeply affecting for me. I had so much compassion for Krystal and the horrible home life she faced and her limited life choices. She’s cast as the town troublemaker by everyone else in town, but Rowling shows Krystal is a more complex (and tragic) person than the town would believe.
What are some of your favorite diverse books? Do you try to make a point of reading diversely? I’d love to see your lists so I can try out even more diverse books!