These books can make you laugh, will make you cry, and above all, will make you think, process, and ultimately, maybe have a greater understanding of the world around you. Here are six books that deal with real issues.
In this unpredictable and turbulent world, books can act as an escape – to imagine yourself in a different world with different problems, and perhaps forget about your own life for a while.
But it is also equally important and cathartic to read books that reflect on this world’s and people’s own realties. There are so many must-read books that respond to today’s major issues, like racism, police brutality, socioeconomic insecurity, gun violence, gender identity, sexual orientation, and more.
These books can make you laugh, will make you cry, and above all, will make you think, process, and ultimately, maybe have a greater understanding of the world around you. Here are must-read six books that deal with these real issues.
Every Body Looking, by Candice Iloh
Every Body Looking, is an autographical novel of a young woman’s struggle to carve a place for herself-for her Black female body-in a world of conflicting messages.
Told entirely in verse, Ada’s story encompasses her earliest memories as a child, including abuse, family rejection and addiction.
The present-tense of the book is Ada’s first year at Howard University, in Washington D.C., where she must finally confront the fundamental conflict between who her family says she should be, and what her body tells her she must be.
Punching the Air, by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
Amal Shahid has always been a poet and artists, but even in a diverse art school, he is seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased and racist system.
One night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy, as “boys just being boys,” turns out to be true only for boys who are white.
At only sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended as he is convicted for a crime he did not commit and sent to prison. This should not have been his story, but can he change it?
Act Cool, by Tobly McSmith
August Greene is an inspiring actor and just landed a coveted spot at the prestigious School of Performing Arts in New York. There is one problem, though: his conservative parents won’t accept that he is transgender, and to stay with his aunt in the city, August must promise that he won’t transition.
August tries to play the part his parents want, but who is he when the lights go down, and where does he turn when the roles start hitting a little too close to home?
You Know I’m No Good, by Jessie Ann Foley
Mia is a “troubled teen.” She gets bad grades, drinks too much, and doesn’t follow rules, but she doesn’t realize how out of control she seems until she is taken from her home in the middle of the night and sent away to a therapeutic girl’s boarding school in the middle of nowhere.
While being there, Mia is forced to confront her painful past and questions if, she were a boy, would her behavior still be considered wild enough to get her sent away?
Thoughts & Prayers, by Bryan Bliss
Claire, Brezzen, and Eleanor have little to nothing in common, but a year ago, they were linked. They all hid under the same staircase and heard the shots that took the lives of some of their classmates and a teacher.
Now, each of them copes with the trauma as best as they can, even as the world keeps moving around them.
Told in three loosely connected, but intertwined stories, this book follows the three high school students in the aftermath of a school shooting. Thoughts & Prayers shows what happens after the reports and media leaves, and the news cycle moves on to the next tragedy. It is the story of three unforgettable teens, who feel forgotten.
All Boys Aren’t Blue, by George M. Johnson
In a series of personal essays, journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of bullies, to flea markets with his grandmother, to his first sexual relations, this memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.
This reassuring testimony for young queer men of color covers topics such a toxic masculinity, ender identity, brotherhood, structural marginalization, consent, family, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotional and frank style of writing will appeal especially to young adults.