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Our Diversity genre celebrates a wide range of inclusive narratives. It's about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin. As a team, we read widely and make sure that we offer intersectional representation in our book recommendations.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. This is such a gorgeously expressive novel, it just sings with intensity, and is impossible to put down. Nine year old Leon loves his little brother Jake and his mum, he looks after them both as best he can, when Leon and Jake have to go and live with Maureen, Leon hatches a plan. Kit de Waal writes with a beautiful, sincere energy, the simplicity of the tale told from Leon's point of view allows a complicated backdrop of emotions to shine through. At times my heart absolutely ached, yet there are also proper laughter blurting moments, and I just wanted to gather everybody up into a huge, squashy hug. The 80’s, with it’s curly wurlys, royal celebrations, and riots is the perfect setting. A gloriously motley collection of characters come to life, each and every one of them is indispensable, and each affected me in some way. ‘My Name is Leon’ is a stunning, eloquent, stinging paper-cut of a read, I fell in love with it, and in turn, it left me full of hope. Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2016 Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
April 2017 NewGen Debut of the Month. In a Nutshell: Fighting for Justice | Black Lives Matter | Stunning, vital wake-up call of a novel about racism, social inequality and not giving up told through the eyes of an incredible, unforgettable sixteen-year-old. Starr straddles two very different worlds. She has one foot in Garden Heights, a rough neighbourhood ruled by gangs, guns and dealers, and the other in an exclusive school with an overwhelmingly wealthy white student population. One night she’s at a party when gunshots are fired and Khalil, her friend since childhood, takes her to his car for safety. Khalil is unarmed and poses no threat, but he’s shot dead by an officer right in front of her. It will take a lot of courage to speak to the police, and to face the media who choose to highlight that Khalil was a “suspected drug dealer”, while omitting to mention that he was unarmed. But, with their neighbourhood under curfew and a tank on the streets, Starr risks going public. Danger escalates as the hearing approaches (and beyond), but Starr isn’t about to give up fighting for Khalil, and for what’s right. Alongside the intense struggles and conflicts faced by Starr’s family and community, there are some truly heart-melting moments between Starr and her white boyfriend Chris (their shared love of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is super cute), and also between Starr and her parents. Complex, gripping, stirring and so, so important – I can’t recommend this remarkable debut enough. ~ Joanne Owen
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | April 2017 Book of the Month. A captivating and subtly beautiful novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait. Alex recalls life on the road at the age of 13, a trip undertaken with Mom, where lessons are learned, and the truth within explored. The writing here is exquisite, the story evolves so simply, gradually revealing the complications that life has to offer. Sara Taylor placed me in the seat next to Alex, I joined this intimate, evocative journey meandering from the east to west coast of the USA, and I didn’t want it to end. The wonderfully sensitive writing creates blasts of feeling, and woke my awareness as prickles of revelation travelled up my arms from the page. These characters feel so touchingly real, Alex opened my eyes, I smiled, I ached, I wept. ‘The Lauras’ is an absolute delight of a read, and it touched my heart. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to download some Reading Group questions for The Lauras.
Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers.
April 2017 Book of the Month. An absolute page-turner of a novel, at times uncomfortable, yet powerful and oh so compelling. Roni and Nika meet when they are 8 years old, as the years pass their relationship changes, yet in their thoughts they remain as entwined as ever and a particular torment lives on. Dorothy Koomson sends us backwards and forwards in time, this isn't an easy ride, and it isn't meant to be. The jagged, almost serrated feel to the change in time lines meant I was alert and at times apprehensive as I watched events unfold. The story is so commanding it keeps you firmly in the moment, so aware of the pain and fear, waiting with bated breath yet still shocked as more revelations occur. Resolute, heart-rending, thought-provoking, and so beautifully compassionate, ‘When I Was Invisible’ left me with a tear in my eye and touched my heart. One of our Books of the Year 2016. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Courage, strength and erotica is at the heart of this humorous, heart-warming tale about a clash of cultures and the women in our lives we should never take for granted. Nikki is a modern girl living in London who is determined to live life on her own terms. She’s also Punjabi. Her mother hasn’t quite forgiven her for dropping out of law school, or selfishly moving from the family home to work in a pub outside of their community. Sister Mindi, to her horror, wants an arranged marriage and Nikki has never felt more alienated from her family and the traditional values they embrace. When she begins teaching a creative writing class for Punjabi widows, Nikki is surprised by the strength and passion that lies within the women and the secrets they hold. Before long stories begin to emerge. They are good, full of erotic description and give the women a platform to be heard for the first time in their lives. Before long the stories are being shared outside the classroom. However, something darker lies beneath the revered community and its traditions, something that brings danger to this group of women who wish for nothing more than to express themselves and move away from the shadows. A deeper truth is soon exposed, a truth that will send shockwaves throughout the community, bringing danger to both Nikki and the group. A great read filled with memorable characters and their stories. ~ Shelley Fallows
Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2017. A surprising, emotional, and courageous novel, one where the words and feelings gradually unwind from the page and take up residence in your mind. Set in Nigeria during the 1980s, this is a story that at first feels like a window into another world, yet one that is somehow recognisable, as feelings are translatable, wherever they may be felt. Yejide desperately wants a child, her entire world collapses when her in-laws insist on her husband Akin marrying a new wife, in order to bear him children. We see the couple, feel their thoughts, the hurt and sorrow on both sides. I couldn't stop reading, yet the rawness, the pain was in every turn of the page. Unexpected revelations smacked into my awareness, turned my thoughts, captivated me further. Ayobami Adebayo, in her debut novel, writes with a clear and simple intensity. ’Stay With Me’ is utterly compelling, provocative, and a truly beautiful read. ~ Liz Robinson March 2017 Debut of the Month. Click here to read Ayobami Adebayo discuss her debut novel Stay with Me. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | February 2017 Debut of the Month. A rather special read indeed… there are times when you wonder how you've missed sight of, or hearing about a book, and for me this is one of them. This is a treat, a heartbreaking, funny, eye-opening, jam-packed full of love treat. Ben shares his story as he literally battles to place his autistic son Jonah, into what he considers is the right school. Ben and Jonah move in with Ben’s dad and we see what life is like for these three men as their worlds revolve around each other. Jem Lester writes with experience, yet he adds bittersweet, aching emotion, biting wit, and a lightness of touch that manages to skim joyfully across the pages. Letters from social services, the school, medical information, and receipts all find their way into the book, often bringing me up short and creating a link to the authenticity of the situation. ‘Shtum’ is brave, bold, and wonderful, it made me cry, rage, and laugh, and I loved every single beautiful second of it. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
A lovely warm and joyful squeeze of a read. When a family bombshell hits, four sisters each tell their own story. We get to know Fatima, Farah, Bubblee and Mae, and because their lives revolve around each other, we not only hear their own thoughts, but how those closet to them feel about them too. I loved the way their lives mingled and unexpected little hits of information floated free. With ups and downs, secrets and drama, these four sisters nudge their way into your heart. From watching her on the telly, I feel as though I know Nadiya and this book is just as I think of her… open, caring, engaging and full of warmth and sparkle. ‘The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters’ champions honesty, bravery, and love, open the cover and let it welcome you into it’s heart. ~ Liz Robinson January 2017 Debut of the Month.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. December 2016 Book of the Month. Just incredible… this punchy, beautiful, readable story vibrates with a powerful energy. After Turk Bauer accuses nurse Ruth Jefferson of murdering his new born son, Kennedy McQuarrie defends Ruth in court. Each of the three main characters, in their own distinct and unique voice, tell us their story, we live side by side with them, and also delve into their past. This is a book that made me think, but also deep down in the centre of my innermost core it made me feel. Within a few pages I was crying, then in the next chapter I was burning with disbelief, a short while later still, I was reflecting, contemplating, questioning. This isn't about good and evil, it isn't as simple, or even as complicated as that, this is a book that shines a light on racism, on prejudice, and then invites you to examine your own thoughts and feelings. I was desperate to know the ending, and yet didn't want it to finish, and when I turned the last page I sat back and just felt myself float free. At the centre of ‘Small Great Things’ is an open, welcoming, loving heart that beats with a vibrant intensity, and it is quite simply, a must read. ~ Liz Robinson
Our mission is to share book love and encourage reading for pleasure by offering the tools, advice and information needed to help our members and browsers find their next favourite book. Part of that mission includes promoting diversity through the authors, characters and books that we feature on the website.
Much like our Debut category has a variety of books from first-time authors, our Diverse Voices genre will highlight a wide range of Inclusive narratives.