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In Reading Color

The Best BIPOC Books Out Today

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Vanessa Diaz

Managing Editor

Book Riot Managing Editor Vanessa Diaz is a writer and former bookseller from San Diego, CA whose Spanish is even faster than her English. When not reading or writing, she enjoys dreaming up travel itineraries and drinking entirely too much tea. She is a regular co-host on the All the Books podcast who especially loves mysteries, gothic lit, mythology/folklore, and all things witchy. Vanessa can be found on Instagram at @BuenosDiazSD or taking pictures of pretty trees in Portland, OR, where she now resides.

Greetings, readers! Erica is taking a well-deserved break this week, so today you get me, Vanessa Diaz, Managing Editor of the good ship Book Riot. I’ll start us off with a sampling of some of the best BIPOC-authored books out this week. Because there are so! many! great! reads out today, I have bonus picks for our subscribers as well as some playlist content that’s both predictable and fueled by rage.

But first, the new releases! I have a story about two strong-willed women on the Texas/Mexico border and a curse that spans generations; a queer pirate adventure on the Caribbean sea inspired by real events; and a coming-of-age story set in Nigeria just before the passing of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. In young adult lit, I have a contemporary romance about ex-best friends working to save their town’s Islamic Center and a high-stakes tale of a teen training to be an Imperial pilot who returns to her rebel roots to save the world.

This is also the first In Reading Color send of June, so I want to wish everyone a very Happy Pride! There are several queer books in the mix today because ’round here, we’re intersectional.

Adult BIPOC Books

cover of Malas by Marcela Fuentes. Cover art shows a women's partially obscured face with a cascade of flowers coming down her forehead

Malas by Marcela Fuentes

It’s hard to translate “malas” exactly—technically, it’s “bad girls or “bad women,” but “wicked women” comes closer to describing how the two strong-willed women in this novel are perceived by the people in their small border town. In the 1950s, young wife and mother Pilar has just moved to La Cienega, Texas, when she’s cursed by an old woman claiming that Pilar stole her husband. In 1994, 14-year-old Lulu is preparing for her quinceañera when her beloved grandmother dies. Pilar is the glamorous stranger who crashes the funeral and soon forms an unlikely kinship with Lulu, a bond that will force Pilar to confront her past and Lulu to embrace her future. This is a love letter to Tejano culture that takes readers from dusty rodeos to family gatherings to a Selena concert.

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye book cover

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye by Briony Cameron

A motley pirate crew, adventure times, and a forbidden love story inspired by real events—do I need to keep going? Told in three parts, this swashbuckling tale of a woman of color’s rise to power as one of the few female pirate captains to sail the Caribbean is high up on my TBR. More queer pirates!

cover of Blessings by Chukwueuka Ibeh

Blessings by Chukwuebuka Ibeh

Erica actually put me onto this one in last week’s In the Club newsletter, so I’ll just go ahead and use her words here: “This glittering queer coming-of-age novel is set in Nigeria, just before the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014 would make queerness officially illegal. The sensitive and creative Obiefuna develops a sweet connection with a boy from a neighboring village, but when his father catches the two of them together, he sends him away to boarding school. There, his fight for survival entails hiding who he really is and trying to navigate random violence. Meanwhile, his mother, Uzoamaka, wonders why her son was sent away since his father won’t say and is left to reckon with long-avoided truths.”


Four Eids and a Funeral book cover

Four Eids and a Funeral by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, Adiba Jaigirdar

This YA novel has a fantastic title and setup. It’s about two ex-best friends: Said, who has been off at boarding school and is back in town to attend the funeral of his favorite librarian, and Tiwa, who has no idea why Said decided to start ignoring her but plans on ignoring him right back all summer. That’ll show him! When their town’s Islamic Center catches fire, and the mayor wants to go ahead and level it, Said and Tiwa agree to work together to save the center from demolition. I do love a rekindling!

moonstorm book cover

Moonstorm by Yoon Ha Lee

Teen Hwa Young is a citizen of the very empire that destroyed her rebel moon home and made her an orphan six years ago. She wants nothing more than to shake her rebel past and dreams of becoming a pilot. She gets her chance after an attack on her boarding school leaves Hwa Young and her classmates stranded on an imperial space fleet that’s s desperate for pilot candidates. Hwa Young and her classmates gladly volunteer, but training doesn’t go as expected: secrets surface that lead Hwa Young to uncover a conspiracy that will change the course of all of their lives.

*subscribers read on for bonus content*

Bonus Picks and Playlists

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