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12 Books by Black Women that Will Keep You Turning Pages All Summer Long


by Shonette Reed


With barbeques, beaches, and vacations just around the corner, a summer reading list is in order for our bibliophiles. It’s the time of the year where you’re likely to have multiple books with bookmarks in them, as the days get longer and you feel more relaxed. From young adult to science fiction, we’ve got you covered with a diverse range of books to get into this summer.

Here are 13 books by African-American women that will have you turning pages until the fall.

1. The Turner House by Angela Flournoy


Forced to leave home and move in with her eldest son, matriarch Viola Turner and the rest of her family discover that her home, holding fifty years worth of memories, is only worth one-tenth of the mortgage. The Turner children return to decide the fate of the house, as well as reckon with how each of their pasts has haunted—and shaped—the family’s future. (Release date: April 2015)

2. God Help The Child by Toni Morrison


With blue-black skin, Bride’s light-skinned mother, Sweetness, has always denied her even the simplest forms of love. And yet, Bride is still seen as beautiful, bold, confident, and successful in this novel that explores parent-child relationships. (Release date: April 2015)

3. X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Keekla Magoon


After his father has been murdered, his mother taken away, Malcolm is lured by the jazz nightlife of Boston and New York, despite his dreams of wanting to become a lawyer. Knowing that his freedom is an illusion and that he can’t run from his past forever, Malcolm ends up imprisoned for theft, only to find the faith to forge a new path. (Release date: January 2015)

4. Once Upon a Sunday, by Renee Allen Mccoy


After losing her job and self-dignity, Melinda Black is thrown into an emotional roller coaster and a cascade of events that will change her life forever. Once Upon A Sunday is an inspirational short story on handling life’s difficulties. (Release date: April 2015)

5. Naya’s Invasion (Fallen Invasion Series, Book 2) by Mia Mitns


Naya is the fierce leader of an alien invasion and her orders are simple: Remain invisible and monitor the humans. But she never planned to fall in love with one. (Release date: April 2015)

6. The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson


A story centered on a matriarchal family in Barbados, The Star Side of Bird Hill covers community, betrayal, and love through the lives of two sisters, ages 10 and 16, exiled from Brooklyn to live in Bird Hill, Barbados with their grandmother. With their mother no longer being able to care for them, the girls must grow accustomed to their new changes. When a father they barely know comes to reclaim them, the sisters are forced to choose between Brooklyn—the place they once knew and loved—or forging a new life in Barbados. (Release date: June 2015)


7. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton


The top three students of an elite Manhattan ballet school—Gigi, Bette, and June—have seen their fair share of drama. Gigi faces death if she continues to dance. Bette, who wants to escape her dancer sister’s shadow, reveals a dangerous edge. And June, the perfectionist, fights to land the lead role or her controlling mother will pull her out of ballet forever. In this Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars novel, the girls will betray, manipulate, and sacrifice to be the absolute best. (Release date: May 2015)

8. The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander


Elizabeth Alexander shares the loss of her husband and the importance of love and family in her recent book, The Light of the World. Beginning the book where she and her husband met, Alexander shares wisdom and insights from her experience as a wife, mother, artist, and educator. (Release date: April 2015)

9. Pleasantville (Jay Porter Series) by Attica Locke


Jay Porter, the activist lawyer first seen in Locke’s Black Water Rising, returns for the second installment of courtroom series when a young woman is kidnapped. Locke, also a writer-producer of the hit TV show, Empire, releases a page-turning mystery set in the world of high-stakes Texas politics. (Release date: April 2015)

10. Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett


Inspired by the true story of Ida B. Wells, Barnett creates a powerful historical novel focusing on protagonist Ivoe Williams, a young girl growing up in the segregated Jim Crow South. Ivoe achieves the impossible when she receives a scholarship to a prestigious college, only to return home to do the menial work that nearly all blacks were regulated to at the time. Ivoe courageously leaves the South to found the first ever woman-run African-American newspaper in Kansas City, in hopes of becoming an advocate for social change and giving voice to the black community. (Release date: February 2015)

11. Undivided by Patricia Raybon and Alana Raybon


A bond broken on the battleground of religion, a Christian mother and her Muslim daughter struggle to heal their relationship. The two eventually show that love triumphs over difference. (Release date: April 2015)

11. Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith


Detailing how a girl from Northern California won the nation’s highest literary prize and ended up teaching at Princeton University by way of Harvard, this memoir is a beautiful tribute to the nurturing and intelligence of Smith’s mother and father, and to the perseverance and strength of the black family. (Release date: February 2015)

12. Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez


The follow-up to her novel Wench, Perkins-Valdez tells the story of three girls—Maggie, Sadie, and Hemp—and their migration north to Chicago in search of better lives. Reveling in the new city, the three must deal with their pasts before they can embrace the future. (Release date: May 2015)

What else will you be reading this summer?

Photo: Shutterstock (All book cover images from Amazon)

Shonette Reed is a regular contributor to For Harriet from Los Angeles, Calif. With plans to break into the fashion industry as a fashion reporter, she runs her own style blog. Her aim is to highlight the important contributions of women of color in the fashion industry as well as give women of color more exposure within the leading magazines in fashion. You can follow her on Twitter @ShonetteReed.

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