The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas

Late one night Starr Carter was driving, with her childhood friend Khalil, home from a party. At 16, Starr didn’t often go to parties in her neighborhood. Although she was raised in this poor Mississippi community, Starr’s parents enrolled their children in a fancy suburban private school. Daddy runs the local grocery while her mom works as an ER nurse and they know just how tough these streets can be. Khalil and Starr are pulled over by the police. Terrified, Starr remembers what her mama drilled into her; keep your hands where they can be seen, no sudden movements and no speaking unless spoken to. Khalil is shot in the back three times. Blood is everywhere. Starr questions her identity living in two very different worlds. The incident makes national headlines and Starr is the only witness. Her family, the local gang leaders and the entire neighborhood take to the streets. Riots, danger, fear in one world — AP exams and prom dresses in the other. It is time for this brave young lady to speak for her friends who no longer have a voice of their own.

By Octavia Butler

Dana is a 26-year-old African American woman in 1976 California. She and her white husband Kevin just moved into their first home. One day Dana feels strange and as the room begins to spin she is terrifyingly swept away to another time. Dana awakens in antebellum Maryland. She sees a little boy drowning. Without hesitating, Dana saves his life and begins a journey her creative mind could have never imagined. She travels back and forth between centuries to repeatedly save this boy named Rufus. As a black woman she is thought to be a slave on his father’s plantation. Going along with the ruse and the limited historical facts she knows, Dana learns to survive while she tries to figure out this mysterious existence she has acquired. Originally published in 1979, this fantastical historical fiction is 100 percent mesmerizing. To live, even for a short while, in a time that tested everything we believe about freedom and humankind is almost unimaginable. Octavia Butler takes you on a journey you will remember long after the final chapter. 

The Nickel Boys
By Colson Whitehead

Elwood Curtis spends his days sweeping the floor at the local cigar shop and getting straight A’s at school. It is the early 1960s in Tallahassee, Florida and as Elwood listens to the speeches of Martin Luther King, he dreams of college and a bright future. His grandmother raised him on good manners, kindness and hope. On the first day of a college level class he is honored to take, Elwood is detained on the road and mistakenly sent to a juvenile detention center called The Nickel Academy. With no means to fight this archaic system filled with prejudice and a sadistic, self-serving staff, Elwood and his only friend Turner silently endure. The boys here are beaten, raped and lied to repeatedly. Most barely survive and those who do not are labeled as runaways. Based on an actual reform school called Dozier which closed in 2011 – University of South Florida archaeology students uncovered the remains of bodies and evidence that made up this “school” for boys – this painful exploration is a haunting and truthful story of unimaginable brutality and a surprising friendship that simply cannot be missed.

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