I read Young Adult (YA). Yes, I know. I’m someone’s parent and should have left the subgenre behind. But, you know what? I enjoy stories – period – and many of them come from YA.
However, there’s an issue plaguing YA’s publishing – the lack of young adult and teen voices within non-stereotypical stories. Readers often see stories featuring Cis-gendered (those born where their bodies match their gender), straight, white males and females. Sadly, this behavior leads to cliched stories recycled and one or two perspectives displayed as societal defaults. Few stories offer stories regarding black or biracial teens on either side of the sexuality and class spectrum.
Imagine being a kid, teen, or young adult with cherry-picked options. To experience your voice left astray feels maligning.
Fortunately, Ibi Zoboi gathered some of YA’s best authors to give voice to the voiceless in Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. This short story anthology showcases a spectrum of young black life in America. Biracial. LGBTQA. Rich. Poor. Middle-class. Urban. Rural. Suburban. American-born. Immigrant.
From Brandy Colbert’s “Oreo”, a tale of a young girl’s “outsider” status when he visits family. It’s a story echoed in “Black Enough” by Varian Johnson, where a young boy ventures into the same territory. In “Kissing Sarah Smart”, by Justina Ireland, a biracial and bisexual teen meets another girl while home for the summer and her sexuality blossoms. Grief and Depression permeates the story, “The Trouble with Drowning”, written by Dhonielle Clayton.
On the other hand, there are light and airy stories included also. “The Ingredients” by Jason Reynolds, ushers a tale of hungry boys and a hot summer’s day, whereas “Hackathon Summers” focuses on a boy’s coming of age via a computer science event.
This anthology welcomes many readers, black and non-black alike, to witness tales of ordinary and, at times, extraordinary, kids and teens figuring themselves out like any other YA book. What makes it special is that these stories deserve equal footing, so often ignored.
- Stories for everyone, no matter the spectrum of life
- LGBTQA representation
- Many stories are fast-paced and engaging
- Real dialogue, believable plots, and characterization
- With any short story anthology, not all stories hit glory. There are some clunkers, but they are few in number.
“Black Enough” – Varian Johnson ☆☆☆☆
“Warning: Colour May Fade” – Leah Henderson ☆☆☆☆
“Black. Nerd. Problems” – Lamar Giles ☆☆☆
“Out of the Silence” – Kekla Magoon ☆☆☆☆
“The Ingredients” – Jason Reynolds ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
“Oreo” – Brandy Colbert ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
“Samson and the Delilahs” by Tochi Onyebuchi ☆☆☆
“Stop Playing” – Liara Tamani ☆☆☆
“Wild Horses, Wild Hearts – Jay Coles ☆☆☆☆☆
“Whoa!” – Rita Williams ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
“Gravity” – Tracey Baptiste ☆☆☆☆☆
“The Trouble With Drowning” by Dhonielle Clayton ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
“Kissing Sarah Smart” – Justina Ireland ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
“Hackathon Summers” – Coe Booth ☆☆☆
“Into the Starlight” – Nic Stone ☆☆☆☆☆
“The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones” – Ibi Zoboi ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
Verdict: ☆☆☆☆½/☆☆☆☆☆. Let’s be real. I’m rounding this up to ☆☆☆☆☆. Grab a copy of this book for your personal and/or school libraries.