By Ilyasah Shabazz
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2021. 323 pages. Young Adult Historical Fiction
In this lyrical and compelling novel, based on real events and written by the subject’s daughter, Malcolm Little struggles with the weight of his past. Plagued by nightmares, Malcolm drifts through days, unsure of his future. Slowly, he befriends other prisoners and writes to his family. He reads all the books in the prison library, joins the debate team and the Nation of Islam. Malcolm grapples with race, politics, religion, and justice in the 1940s. And as his time in jail comes to an end, he begins to awaken — emerging from prison more than just Malcolm Little: Now, he is Malcolm X.
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Dear Martin (Dear #1)
By Nic Stone
Crown, 2017. 210 pages. Young Adult Fiction
Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Justyce comes face to face with the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him.
Punching the Air
By Ibi Aanu Zoboi
Balzer + Bray, 2020. 386 pages. Young Adult Fiction
Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, because of a biased system he's seen as disruptive and unmotivated. Then, one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. "Boys just being boys" turns out to be true only when those boys are white. Suddenly, at just 16-years-old, Amal is convicted of a crime he didn't commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?