YA NOVELS CAPTURING CULTURAL DIVERSITY 2021
Sharing voices for all people is something that is important within the writing community. For many years, writers of different cultural backgrounds have been granted the opportunity to share their stories to the world, providing young readers a look on reality through different perspective.
As times continue to change, cultural inclusion becomes more prevalent in the writing community, welcoming more readers to the bibliophile nation! Here is a list of a few books that truly highlight the importance of cultural diversity!
1. Date Me, Bryson Keller: A Novel by Kevin van Whye – Cute, funny, and so inclusive! This young adult novel tells the story of Kai Sheridan, who suddenly asks out dream-boat Bryson Keller. Surprisingly, Bryson agrees, but they have to keep things a secret, which throws Kai for a loop. Kai knows that a gay boy falling head over heels for a straight boy never has a pretty ending, but who knows how far things will go for these two?
2. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez – Ambitious, golden, deep! Sánchez wonderfully shows that you can never judge a book by its cover! This story explores family, immigration, cultural identity, and understanding yourself through Julia Reyes. Julia is the fierce narrator of the story who manages to shatter stereotypes with her intelligence and by not being the “perfect” daughter her late older sister, Olga, turned out to be. Julia knows that there was more to Olga than she believed, so she takes a chance and goes on a wild journey to learn more about her deceased older sister.
3. You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman - Relatable and heartwarming! Silverman makes readers bring out more than just the tissues with this beautifully written story about a young Jewish boy named Ariel Stone who is doing all he can to stay on top when it comes to his academics. With the pressures of getting into the best college possible, Ariel realizes that passing all of his classes may not be so easy—calculus sucks! So, he turns to Amir for tutoring. Little does he realize that being tutored by Amir is not so bad, and the two really hit things off, learning more about each other every day. Even with college deadlines approaching, things with Amir could become distracting for Ariel, and he doesn’t know how to handle it.
4. The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon – Enticing and tear-jerking! Nicola Yoon is no stranger to packing a punch on being the queen of inclusion! The Sun is Also A Star follows two unpredictable soulmates, Natasha and Daniel, who fall in love after an unlikely encounter. Natasha is trying to meet up with a lawyer to prevent her family from being deported back to Jamaica while Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeeper, is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum. They did not expect to meet until Daniel saves Natasha from a car accident. That one random encounter leads to an epic adventure that turns into a beautiful love story.
5. Frankly In Love by David Yoon – Funny and real! Like his wife, Nicola, David Yoon rules when it comes to inclusion. This story follows Frank Li, a Korean teen who falls in love with a girl. An American girl. A white American girl. This is no big deal since it’s a new generation, but his parents are super traditional and have little to no patience in certain areas. So, Frank decides to play things smart and leans on his friend Joy Song, who is in a similar situation, and the two of them decide to rely on each other to get their parents off their back. Yet, in the process of things, Frank feels conflicted and does not know if he truly understands love the way he believed.
6. Fence: Striking Distance by Sarah Rees Brennan – Enjoyable, sweet, funny! Based on the wonderful comic series by the one and only C.S. Pacat, Sarah Rees Brennan expands on the intriguing characters of the Fence series in this well-written novel about friendship, trust, and dealing with complicated feelings for best friends. Nicholas and Seiji have always been fencing rivals right from the start, but after being forced to room together and then being on the same fencing team, Nicholas makes peace with Seiji. But Seiji still has a lot to learn about Nicholas before he can do the same…
7. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – Hilarious, adorable, epic! Jenny Han proves that love never really dies so easily in this epic first installment of the To All The Boys trilogy. Lara Jean Song Covey, half-Korean, half-white American, has written dozens of love letters to all the boys she’s ever had feelings for, but she’s never sent them out. Why? Because it’s embarrassing. But one day, her letters are sent out to all those boys and it becomes a messy, wild ride for poor Laura Jean. But beyond the epic love-tale, this book has a heart and shows that love does break barriers.
8. We, pEOPLE by Amaris I. Manning – Witty, relatable coming-of-age story! A mixed group of friends try to get through the struggles of high school while also dealing with the hardships of love, family, and life in general. This story follows the experiences of Meagan Wright in the form of emails she sends to her best friend who moved away to another country over the summer, leaving Meagan to endure her sophomore year of high school without her best friend. It’s not fun. It gets even harder for Meagan when a new family moves into the house across the street where her best friend used to live. The family is nice and lovely, but the son is tough when it comes to opening up. Later, on her first day back at school, Meagan happens to meet the notorious wise-guy Donald Gonzalez, and soon becomes pulled into his friend-circle of outcasts. They may not be her usual cup of tea, but they just might be the friends Meagan never realized she needed all along.
Stories of cultural diversity not only allow different voices to be heard, but they provide a safe space for different readers all around. When every voice is heard, the possibilities are endless and barriers are broken, creating new opportunities for younger generations. Have you ever felt inspired to share your voice to the world?