10 Books with Black Main Characters to Read During Black History Month (And All Year Long)

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This post is coming a bit later than I would have liked–you know, life and all that. But I wanted to get it out there anyway.

It’s Black History Month! Personally I’m celebrating by reading a few beautifully diverse books with black main characters, and I’m inviting you to join me. Whether you’re participating in Diversity Bingo 2017, or just want to diversify your TBR, here are 10 books with black main characters to read during Black History Month.

Allegedly – Tiffany D. Jackson

Not only is Allegedly a great read to add to your TBR, it is also the #DiverselyBooked read for February! So this one in particular you should definitely read, and then join us for the Twitter chat on February 26 at 12PM EST. You can also be our friend on Goodreads, so you should probablyAllegedly - Tiffany D Jackson - DiverselyBooked go ahead and do that too. /endplug

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

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Shadowshaper – Daniel Jose Older

Shadowshaper - Daniel Jose Older - DiverselyBooked

Six of Crows has left me starving for more urban fantasy, so needless to say when I heard about Shadowshaper it skyrocketed up my TBR list.

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

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City of Saints & Thieves – Natalie C. Andersoncity of saints and thieves diverse books black main characters

I’m not really sure how this book didn’t make it on my radar before its release, but I knew I wanted it on my shelves the moment I saw the cover, and I bought it instantly after reading the synopsis. It is not own voices, however it has gotten raving reviews from people of color (always something you should look for by the way), so I am super excited to dive into it this month.

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.

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Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanaha Chimamanda ngozi adichie diverse books black main charactersI absolutely fell in love with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie after watching her TedTalk on The Danger of The Single Story. I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since, but somehow haven’t found the time. I am definitely planning to pick it up on my next Barnes and Noble trip.

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West.
Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. 

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This Side of Home – Renee Watson

I haven’t found a person yet who has read this book and didn’t absolutely adore it, so I cannot wait tothis side of home renee watson diverse books black main character get my hands on it!

Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything—friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.

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Promise of Shadows – Justina Ireland

promise of shadows justina ireland diverse books black main characterI first discovered Justina Ireland on Twitter, where she regularly drops some serious truths. Seriously, if you aren’t following her, you should be. Then I recently came across her amazing sounding fantasy with a gorgeous cover while scrolling through Goodreads; needless to say I have to have it, and you probably do too.

Zephyr Mourning has never been very good at being a Harpy. She’d rather watch reality TV than learn forty-seven ways to kill a man, and she pretty much sucks at wielding magic. Zephyr was ready for a future pretending to be a normal human instead of a half-god assassin. But all that changes when her sister is murdered—and she uses a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate.

Zephyr is on the run from a punishment worse than death when an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend (a surprisingly HOT friend) changes everything. Because it seems like Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess made flesh that is prophesied to change the power balance. For hundreds of years the half-gods have lived in fear, and Zephyr is supposed to change that.

But how is she supposed to save everyone when she can’t even save herself?

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Tiny Pretty Things – Sona Charaipotra & Dhonitiny pretty things diverse books black main characterelle Clayton

I’ll be honest and say this one isn’t necessarily on my personal TBR, but if it sounds like you’re cup of tea other’s have really enjoyed it!

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

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The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

the hate u give THUG angie thomas diverse books black main character black lives matterTHUG is one of my most anticipated reads this year. Technically it doesn’t actually come out until the end of this month (February 28!), but you should 100% tack in onto the top of your TBR pile when it finally releases. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books everyone really needs to read.

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

 

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Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butlerparable of the sower octavia butler diverse books black main characters

I read Parable of the Sower in uni for my Feminist Utopias & Dystopias course, and I absolutely loved it.
It tackles so many important topics and intersections of social issues and it is just really great.

When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.

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American Street – Ibi Zoboi

american street ibi zoboi diverse books black main characters

Is this not one of the most beautiful covers you’ve ever seen? I actually hadn’t heard of American Street until I started looking for books to feature in this post, but I’m glad that I found it. It releases February 14 and I’ll definitely be picking it up.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

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Which of these books will you be adding to your TBR? And are there any fantastic books with black main characters you’d like to add? Please leave your recommendations below!

XOXO

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  • I need Shadowshaper and Promise of Shadows! Both sound really awesome. I love the idea of graffiti and magical art.

  • I enjoyed Shadowshaper but it did hang on to some YA cliches that I’m sick of. This is a fantastic list and there are some books on here I’m pretty interested in playing! Thanks for this!

  • Thanks for the list! 🙂 I think I found good titles in here 🙂