The OwnVoices hashtag began last September when author Corinne Duyvis created it “to recommend kidlit about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group.” Since then, the label has evolved and now refers to any book written about diverse or marginalized characters by an author from that same diverse or marginalized group. And because all of us at Tuesday Writers are avid readers, we wanted to recommend some of our favorite #OwnVoices books. As always, we’d love to hear your picks as well.
Melody: I love books that open my eyes, books that tell stories that are outside my experience, especially ones where the characters live and breathe on the page and live on long after I close the book. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo is one of those books. Written by a transgender woman about a transgender experience, If I Was Your Girl tells the story of Amanda Hardy as she tries to find herself and bounces between her pre-transition life and her post-transition life (where her body caught up to her reality). I really felt for this girl. And I highly recommend this book for anyone who’s looking—not only for a good story—but also for a story that resonates long after you finish it.
Cathy: Randi Pink’s novel Into White is a story borne out of her own life, growing up black in an all-white neighborhood. In the novel, main character LaToya prays to Jesus to be “anything but black.” One morning her prayer is granted. Her family can’t see the transformation, but she goes to school and tells the principal she’s an exchange student. Her long blonde hair and white skin seem to be the ingredients of popularity that’s evaded her. What Toya has to figure out is whether or not it’s worth it. You can see Randi’s Ted Talk here: Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone | Randi Pink | TEDxBirmingham. And you can find Randi’s website at The Basics.
Stacie: There are thankfully a sea of #ownvoices books to choose from. The #ownvoices book I’d like to boost is Sarah Nicolas’s Keeping her Secret. Sarah is this awesome library event planner and all around bomb person. Plus her book is unputdownable. Note the tag line: “All is fair in summer camp prank wars…” You want to read that, don’t you? Go ahead. Order it. I’ll wait.
Faran: I’m a huge fan of Matt De La Pena’s books, and a big reason is his penchant for marginalized characters. Sticky in Ball Don’t Lie struggles in a foster home, and ace pitcher Danny Lopez is haunted by a broken home and his racial identity in Mexican Whiteboy. In I Will Save You, De La Pena takes on mental illness in a way that will blow you away. His portrayal of these characters is both eye-opening and riveting, and through their journey we are faced with the hard road they face to reach a sense of peace and balance among turmoil. You can follow De La Pena on Twitter: @mattdelapena
Joanne: My favorite #OwnVoices author is Simone Kelly who wrote Like a Fly on the Wall. In the book, Moraccan-born Jacques Berradi has a unique gift as an intuitive counselor. Kylie Collins goes to see him for insight, and a blackout strikes Miami, forcing them to work together. Can Jacques’s intuition reveal the scandalous history of Kylie’s mother and father? Will Kylie’s newfound detective skills uncover evidence about the death of Jacques’s father? And will the chemistry that charges their friendship bubble over into something much, much hotter…? By the way, Simone is a vivacious personal coach and can be reached at: @ownyourpower.