Think of your favorite book. Now think about the author of the book. Especially think about which continent their family descended from, their physical appearance, and their gender. Chances are that most of the authors that you are thinking of right now are European white males.
I was asked to do the same exact task about a year and a half ago upon my entry into my English 2 class. In the class, the teacher pointed out that more than half the authors we as a society know and love are European, white males. For me, it was not until that moment that I realized the truth behind her words. Alongside that truth, I realized that there must be a change in our society with the material and the authors we read.
Due to this realization, I sought to explore authors beyond the traditional European, white male authors and I was able to find great novels by many authors. I would like to share a few of my favorites.
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr Carter, a sixteen year old black girl, weaves in and out of two worlds as she attends a predominantly white school outside of her community of Garden Heights. One day, Starr attends a party with one of her Garden Heights friends, Kenya, and meets up with a old childhood friend named Khalil. Starr felt out of place at the party so Khalil offered to take her home, but was pulled over by a cop. He was asked to step out of the vehicle, so he did. When the officer was not looking at Khalil, he reached over to check on Starr and was shot to death. Starr was scarred from the shooting of her childhood best friend and attempted to prevent such injustices in her community of Garden Heights for the rest of the novel.
Angie Thomas wrote a brilliant story about Starr in which she faces the difficulties of being black in America. This story helps the community understand the struggles that the African American community faces and tackles issues of police brutality, gangs, and violence. This book was a rollercoaster of emotions for me, but that is precisely the reason I would recommend it.
2. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
In this novel, Julia Reyes, the main character, is faced with the death of her perfect older sister, Olga. All her life, Julia’s older sister was called perfect by her parents and served as a constant comparison for Julia, who had a hot headed temper. When Olga died, Julia desired to know whether her older sister was really as perfect as everyone made her out to be. She started to snoop through Olga’s room and found out that Olga was really not immaculate.
Erika Sanchez addressed the rebellious side of children of immigrant parents in her novel through her characterization of Julia. Personally, I was able to thoroughly resonate with Julia’s feelings as my parents are immigrants who have a certain standard they would like me to live up to. I would 10/10 recommend this novel for the portrayal of Julia who I formed a strong connection with in my reading and the suspenseful plot.
3. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Mili Rathod is living a life many Indian women can only dream of. She is able to live and study in the States because of her marriage. There is just one problem, she has not seen her husband in twenty years. Samir Rathod is the brother of Mili’s husband and has come to the state of Michigan with Mili to secure his brother’s divorce. He does not at all anticipate that he will be captivated by her cooking, her culture, and her lifestyle.
Sonali Dev brought up questions about the traditional patriarchal society that many countries in Asia face with her story of Mili and Samir. I was a sucker for the chemistry between Samir and Mili throughout my read and would recommend this novel for all those who are suckers for a cheesy love story.
4. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Kambili and her older brother Jaja live a privileged life in Nigeria. They do not know about the troubles of the world. Yet, this does not seem to hold true in their home. In their home, their father beats their mother and encourages devoutness in his family in a way that suffocates them all.
When the country falls to white colonizers, Kambili and her brother are sent to live with their aunt. In their aunt’s house they discover that there is a world beyond suffocation in homes, where they can say anything they want, where they can laugh of their own accord, and where there are no family tensions. Kambili must learn to navigate through her life knowing that this other world exists.
Though this may not be the easiest read due to the problems in homes that this book addresses, the book is truly an amazing read for those who love coming of age novels.
5. Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
This memoir goes through the struggles of Michelle Zauner as a child as one of the only young Asians in her class. Not only does it tackle that issue but it also highlights her struggles to form a complicated relationship with her mother.
As a sucker for stereotypical Asian American struggle combined with family drama, this memoir really spoke to me about the importance of parental relationships and school life.