MixedBooklistThe protagonists often appear two-dimensional, and their story ultimately leaves the reader wanting more, but Carr’s writing is eloquent and engaging, and her supporting characters are strong.
PositiveBooklistThis is a heartfelt tribute to Wilkinson, who passed away in 2018, and an acknowledgment of her remarkable life and career. Copeland has gracefully accepted the challenge to continue to improve dance—and humanity—in honor of Wilkinson and all those who follow her.
Catherine Adel West
RaveBooklistFocusing on the interplay between generations as she did in her debut (Saving Ruby King, 2020), West writes with charming precision and intention...Every character is a beautiful, relatable complication...Both masterfully suspenseful and certain to tug at the reader’s heartstrings, The Two Lives of Sara solidifies West as a literary force.
RaveBooklistRecurring themes of sexual assault and other traumas soak these pages, to which Watkins also lends a searing, honest humanity and satisfying complexity of characters. Her bold and captivating writing keeps readers floating through time, leaving us with thought-provoking revelations regarding healing that begins with loving and forgiving oneself before it can be extended to others.
PositiveBooklistAllen bestows a fresh literary voice on this memoir filled with humor, honesty, and thought-provoking truth ... As she analyzes the interactions around her, Allen develops feminist values that are concrete and drenched with meaning. Allen’s fellow millennials especially will appreciate her nostalgic references; all readers will enjoy Allen’s intimate writing and the wit she weaves in between epiphanies. With admirable and inspiring vulnerability, Allen brings readers along in her journey to understand her very makeup. Life doesn’t grant happy endings, she reminds us; but rather a revolving door of growth and self-reflection.
PositiveBooklistYanique’s attention to detail and her characters’ generational wounds is well thought out. The residue of those wounds plays out both subtly and with force in how Fly and Stela view one another as well as themselves. The family histories Yanique weaves in explain the couple’s motivation, whether they are running from their experiences or finally facing their traumas head on. The writing is soft and intricate with no detail wasted. Readers are lured into the themes of self-discovery, acceptance, and trauma, with an ending well worth the investment.
Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
RaveBooklistJohnson mesmerizes the reader with the novella-length \'My Monticello,\' in which a group of Charlottesville neighbors are run from their homes by violent white supremacists ... This fiction collection is an astonishing display of craftsmanship and heart-tugging narratives. Johnson is a brilliant storyteller who gracefully reflects a clear mirror on a troubled America.
RaveBooklist[Bowen] meticulously deconstructs the elitist veil of feminism and honors Black women from the hood with long nails, loud voices, and tough exteriors. Bowen writes from an authentic space for Black women who are often left out of feminist conversations due to respectability politics, but who are just as deserving of the same voice and liberation ... Through personal essays, Bowen dissects the complexities of dealing with fat phobia, queerness, owning one’s sexuality, and the importance of friendship. She doesn’t shy away from the tough experiences ... Bowen’s insight empowers the unapologetic women who culture loves to emulate and highlights the inspiration behind some of hip-hop’s most memorable songs.
PositiveBooklistAllen’s debut novel, the first in a trilogy originally published with a small indie press in 2018, captures the complexities of Black women coming into adulthood while learning to manage the disappointments and expectations placed on them by society.
PositiveBooklist... a brave examination into the accumulation of unresolved generational trauma and its detrimental outcomes. She weaves in different time periods, offering insight into the lives of the girls before their kidnapping, the collective sisterhood built during their bondage, and their courageous healing into womanhood afterward. Ferrell writes with a masterful honesty that champions her protagonists, and also leaves a clear space for readers to examine their own wounds.
PositiveBooklistWest’s debut is a bold insight into traditional southern Christianity and its contradictions to contemporary perspectives on gender equality. She writes with a melodic cadence that is honest and often heartbreaking. Her characters are three-dimensional people who tug at readers’ emotions. West’s refreshing literary voice and thought-provoking perspective hint at a wealth of stories to come.
RaveBooklistJerkins’ debut novel is a multilayered reflection of contemporary dilemmas with a touch of magic realism. With themes such as motherhood, acceptance, and a duty to be of service, the novel is well paced, with alluring anticipation. The writing is sharp with an empathetic undertone, encouraging readers to understand characters’ choices even if they don’t agree ... Jerkins solidifies herself as one of our guiding literary lights, no matter the genre.
PositiveBooklistJohnson writes with imagery so vivid that it’s impossible to look away, even during gut-wrenching moments. Readers will be engulfed in captivating suspense, rooting for the protagonist and her mischief, in hopes that it will deliver her from the evils of slavery.
RaveBooklistEvans solidifies her reputation as one of the most thought-provoking contemporary storytellers ... Evans writes with a wealth of knowledge of American history, serving as a catalyst for both the prisons and the freedoms her characters are allowed to explore. She dives into the generational wounds from America’s violent racial past and present, and crafts her stories with a surgeon’s precision. Each detail meticulously builds on the last, leading to satisfying, unforeseeable plot twists. The language is colorful and drenched with emotion. Readers won’t be able to look away from the page as Evans captivates them in a world all her own.
PositiveBooklist... captivating storytelling ... The collective is an imaginative, colorful collage of narrative that paints a clear and nuanced picture of the contemporary south, delivered with humor, sass, and pride. Readers will walk away with a portrait of modern southern ideologies and the hope for a new approach to old constructs.
Peace Adzo Medie
PositiveBooklistIn her debut novel, Medie writes with a precise rhythm that builds the reader’s anticipation. Themes like deception, ambition, love, and values drench the pages with conflict that evolves into an emotional rollercoaster. Essentially, Afi’s fight for love leads her down the path of boundary-setting and living life on her own terms.
RaveBooklistPoet Lawson takes a deep dive into the fabrication of Black womanhood in her heartfelt debut collection of essays ... Lawson seamlessly uses cultural colloquialisms meant to suppress women and gives them new meaning ... writing is drenched in wit and humor. Lawson’s skill for storytelling gleams during heavier topics such as colorism and passive-aggressive racism in the workplace ... It is Lawson’s love letter to herself and every other Black woman who may have felt invisible or misunderstood.
PositiveBooklistGiddings writes with eloquence, walking readers through the complicated world of Lakewood. They’ll be eager to turn each page and read what happens next.
PositiveBooklistAtakora skillfully intertwines the details of both time periods, which helps shape a delicate picture of Rue. The reader understands the power of her magic juxtaposed with her desire for love, family, and a sense of normalcy. Although Rue may make unethical decisions, readers root for her to protect the secrets that shield the rest of the community from further hardship.
RaveBooklistAngelo masterfully intertwines the lives of Orla, Floss, and Marlow while reflecting a painfully accurate picture of our current fame-driven, tech-obsessed society and its possible destruction. Her writing is crisp and the familiarity of the characters is refreshing. Angelo also weaves in a perspective on contemporary political decisions and the effect they could have on us all in the not-so-distant future. This is an intricate and brave story of friendship, ambition, and love and the lengths people will go to protect it all.
RaveBooklistMcMillan’s writing is smart and witty, throwing readers right into the action, and her dialogue is coated with humor that breathes life into her characters ... fans will flock to McMillan’s first novel in four years.
R. Eric Thomas
PositiveBooklistCulture writer and playwright Thomas humorously explores the intersectionality of his identity and his struggle to find his place in the world. Thomas’ voice radiates off the page, providing an instant level of familiarity ... By the end of the memoir-in-essays, Thomas has a clear solace with his spirituality and healthy marriage, though readers may be left wondering if he has found comfort in what it means to be a Black man in society.
Tola Rotimi Abraham
PositiveBooklistAbraham’s debut novel tackles weighty topics like rape, self-discovery, and the mischief of prominent religious figures with a refreshing elegance. Bibike and Ariyike are nuanced characters who often make decisions with a jarred moral compass. Abraham gently ushers readers into both sisters’ perspectives, inviting us into their journey to autonomous peace.