BAME Authors Reading List

Books By BAME Authors

MHDoes my Head look Big in this? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

The slide opened and I heard a gentle, kind voice: What is your confession, my child? I was stuffed. The priest would declare me a heretic; my parents would call me a traitor.... The Priest asked me again: What is your confession, my child? I am Muslim. I whispered.

Welcome to my world. I am Amal Abdel-Hakim, a 17 year old Australian-Palestinian-Muslim still trying to come to grips with my various identity hyphens. It is hard enough being cool as a teenager when being one issue behind the latest Cosmo is enough to disqualify you from the in group.  Luckily my friends support me, although they have got a few troubles of their own. Simone, blonde, gorgeous and overweight, she has got serious image issues, and Leila's really intelligent but her parents are more interested in her getting a marriage certificate than her high school certificate! . . . . And I thought I had problems.

CWYLClap When you Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people. In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance and Papi's secrets, the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.  And then, when it seems like they have lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

IPiAIpods in Accra by Sophia Acheampong

Makeeda's plans for the summer holidays are falling apart! Her parents suddenly announce that the family are going on a trip to visit their relatives in Ghana and then she splits up with her boyfriend Nelson. Can things get any worse?

But in Ghana things are different, and Makeeda, the sophisticated London girl, makes some surprising discoveries about herself, her family and her friends. And, while she is struggling to reconcile her two cultures, could it be that she has found true love where she least expected it?

TFAThings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Okonkwo is the greatest wrestler and warrior alive, and his fame spreads throughout West Africa like a bush-fire in the harmattan. But when he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart.

When Okonkwo returns from exile to find missionaries and colonial governors have arrived in the village. With his world thrown radically off-balance he can only hurtle towards tragedy.

PHPurple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The limits of fifteen year old Kambili’s world are defined by the high walls of her family estate and the dictates of her fanatically religious father. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, prayer.

When Nigeria is shaken by a military coup, Kambili’s father, involved mysteriously in the political crisis, sends her to live with her aunt. In this house, noisy and full of laughter, she discovers life and love and a terrible, bruising secret deep within her family.


FFace by Benjamin Zephaniah

Martin seems to have it all. He is cool, funny and he is the undisputed leader of the Gang of Three, who roam their East London estate during the holidays looking for fun. But one night after the Gang leave a late night rap club, Martin accepts a ride from Pete, a Raider's Posse gang member. Too late, he realises that the car is stolen, and that the police are after them.

What happens next will change Martin's life and looks, and show him the true meaning of strength, courage, discrimination and friendship.


LELaughter is an Egg by John Agard

Laughter is an egg
with a crick-crack face
that can hide in the heart
of the human race.

Tummy tickling, rib-cracking and even wee-yourself laughs can all be found in the pages of this eggstraordinary collection of poems, riddles, jokes and ballads from the wonderful John Agard.

TCThe Crossover by Kwame Alexander

‘With a bolt of lightning on my kicks The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering’

12 year old Josh and his twin brother Jordan have basketball in their blood. They are kings of the court, star players for their school team. Their father used to be a champion player and they each want nothing more than to follow in his footsteps. Both on and off the court, there is conflict and hardship which will test Josh’s bond with his brother. In this heartfelt novel in verse, the boys find that life does not come with a play book and it is not all about winning.

YCBSI know why the Cagebird Sings by Maya Angelou

Abandoned by their parents, Maya and her older brother Bailey are sent to live with their grandmother and uncle in the small Southern town of Stamps in Arkansas. Struggling with rejection, they endure the prejudice of their white neighbours and suffer several racist incidents. One day, their father unexpectedly returns and takes the children to live with their mother in St Louis, Missouri. Aged only eight, Maya is abused by her mother's boyfriend, an experience that haunts her for a lifetime. Filled with guilt and shame, she refuses to speak to anyone except Bailey - until she meets Mrs Bertha Flowers, who encourages her love of books, helping her to find her voice and regain her own strong spirit.

AHArtichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari

Twelve year old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic and outspoken family where it is not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie's health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her, and also starts to keep some of her own.

She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past and has grown hardened layers, like those of an artichoke around his heart. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her.

PHBPig Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman

You are thirteen. All you want is a normal life. But most normal kids do not need heart transplants.

So there is this doctor. He says there is a chance for you. But he also says it is experimental, controversial and risky.

And it has never been done before.


HSBHeart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Bryne

They say I am evil. The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who sigh on the six o'clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me. And everyone believes it. Including you. But you do not know. You do not know who I used to be. Who I could have been.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever shake off my mistakes or if I will just carry them around with me forever like a bunch of red balloons
Awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution, Emily Koll is going to tell her side of the story for the first time.

FaFFasting and Feasting by Adam Federman

In Fasting and Feasting, biographer Adam Federman tells the remarkable, and until now untold, life story of Patience Gray: from her privileged and intellectual upbringing in England, to her trials as a single mother during World War II, to her career working as a designer, editor, translator, and author, and describing her travels and culinary adventures in later years. A fascinating and spirited woman, Patience Gray was very much a part of her times but very clearly ahead of them. 


BBBhangra Babes by Narinder Dhami

It is Amber, Jazz, and Geena Dhillon’s dream come true: Their interfering Auntie is finally getting married and moving out. The girls cannot wait to get the house and their dad back to themselves, and they certainly will not miss their nosy Auntie at all, right? Meanwhile, Amber tangles with a new girl with a bad attitude and falls head over heels for a would be rapper whose attitude might be even worse. The girls’ friend Kim just might be the only one in their group with any sense, and could it be? Has dorky George Botley blossomed into a Man of Style? Will Amber get her love life straightened out before it ruins Auntie’s wedding? And will the girls learn to survive without Auntie around to keep them in line?

IMInvisible Man by Ralph Ellison

After a brief prologue, the story begins with a terrifying experience from the hero's high-school days; it then moves quickly to the campus of a Southern Negro college and then to New York's Harlem, where most of the action takes place. 

The many people that the hero meets in the course of his wanderings are remarkably various, complex and significant. With them he becomes involved in an amazing series of adventures, in which he is sometimes befriended but more often deceived and betrayed, as much by himself and his own illusions as by the duplicity and the blindness of others.

WoSThe Wheel of Surya by Jamiela Gavin

India, August 1947: Fleeing from their burnt out village as civil war rages in the Punjab, Marvinder and Jaspal are separated from their mother, Jhoti. Marvinder has already saved her brother's life once, but now they both face a daily fight for survival.

Together they escape across India and nearly halfway around the world to England, to find a father they hardly know in a new, hostile culture.

A story touching on culture, class, faith and family set against the backdrop of Indian independence and the Partition of India and Pakistan.

SShine by Candy Gourlay

Rosa suffers from a rare condition that renders her mute. She lives on the strange island of Mirasol where the rain never seems to stop and its superstitious population shun people who suffer from Rosa's condition. So she lives hidden away in an isolated house with only the internet for a social life. But Rosa has no desire to leave Mirasol. This is where her mother died and every night she lights a candle on the windowsill. The islanders believe this is the way to summon ghosts, and Rosa wants her mother back.

One day she is befriended by a boy online and she quickly realizes that this is one friendship that can take place in the real world. Can she really trust him? What does he want from her? And then Mother turns up at the front door.

TRFThe Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid

'Excuse me, sir, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard. I am a lover of America'.

So speaks the mysterious stranger at a Lahore cafe as dusk settles. Invited to join him for tea, you learn his name and what led this speaker of immaculate English to seek you out. For he is more worldy than you might expect; better travelled and better educated. He knows the West better than you do. And as he tells you his story, of how he embraced the Western dream -- and a Western woman -- and how both betrayed him, so the night darkens. Then the true reason for your meeting becomes abundantly clear.

BTBoy in the Tower by Polly Ho Yen

When they first arrived, they came quietly and stealthily as if they tip-toed into the world when we were all looking the other way.

Ade loves living at the top of a tower block. From his window, he feels like he can see the whole world stretching out beneath him. His mum does not really like looking outside, but it is going outside that she hates. She prefers to sleep all day inside their tower, where it is safe.

Except it is not safe any more. Strange plants have started to take over and tower blocks are falling down around them. Now Ade and his mum are trapped and there is no way out.

KRThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives.

After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

EWGTheir Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her . . .' 

When sixteen-year-old Janie is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before she finally meets the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds. 

SBSawbones by Catherine Johnson

Sixteen year old Ezra McAdam has much to be thankful for: trained up as an apprentice by a well regarded London surgeon, Ezra’s knowledge of human anatomy and skill at the dissection table will secure him a trade for life. However, his world is turned on its head when a failed break in at his master’s house sets off a strange and disturbing series of events that involves grave robbing, body switching and murder. Sparky, persuasive young Loveday Finch, daughter of the late Mr Charles Finch, magician, employs Ezra to investigate her father’s death and there are marked similarities between his corpse and the others. The mystery takes Ezra and Loveday from the Operating Theatre at St Bart’s to the desolate wasteland of Coldbath Fields; from the streets of Clerkenwell to the dark, damp vaults of Newgate Prison and finally to the shadowy and forbidding Ottoman Embassy, which seems to be the key to it all.

GRGansta Rap by Benjamin Zephaniah

Ray has trouble at home, and he has trouble at school, until he is permanently excluded and ends up sleeping on the floor of a record shop. What happens to a boy like Ray? If he is lucky, maybe he gets a chance to shine.

The story of three boys who are not easy. They do not fit in. They seem to attract trouble. But they know what they want, and they have got the talent to back it up.


RCRRed Cherry Red by Jackie Kay

A powerful poetry collection full of the drama, musicality and lyricism that Jackie Kay is famed for.

Exploring the themes of identity and age, this collection includes poems about the old days and the new days, and the places associated with an older generation, who often live dreamlike, isolated existences - not only geographically, but also in the memory.  Nature and the elements play a big role too: trees, the moon, the sea, fire. Jackie Kay's style is one moment witty, the next melancholic, or gently surreal - and in this brilliant reissued collection, her poems are infused with warmth and colour: in particular, the colour RED.


OTUOn the Come up by Angie Thomas

Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But when her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Bri finds herself at the centre of controversy and portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. And with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it, she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.


OBOrange Boy by Patrice Lawrence

Not cool enough, not clever enough, not street enough for anyone to notice me. I was the kid people looked straight through.

Not any more. Not since Mr Orange.

Sixteen year old Marlon has made his mum a promise, he will never follow his big brother, Andre, down the wrong path. So far, it has been easy, but when a date ends in tragedy, Marlon finds himself hunted. They are after the mysterious Mr Orange and they are going to use Marlon to get to him. Marlon's out of choices, can he become the person he never wanted to be, to protect everyone he loves?

SISmall Island by Andrea Levy

It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh's neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie does not know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do?

Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It is desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door. Gilbert's wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England and is shocked when she joins him in London.

CCChinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

Jung-ling's family considers her bad luck because her mother died giving birth to her. They discriminate against her and make her feel unwanted yet she yearns and continuously strives for her parents' love. Her stepmother is vindictive and cruel and her father dismissive.

Jung-ling grows up to be an academic child, with a natural ability for writing. Only her aunt and grandfather offer her any love and kindness. The story is of survival in the light of the mental and physical cruelty of her stepmother and the disloyalty of her siblings. 


LWtFLong Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, Long Walk to Freedom brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela's destiny.

Emotive, compelling, and uplifting, Long Walk to Freedom is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience, and ultimate triumph told with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader.

JWJupiter Williams by S I Martin

London 1800. Jupiter is young, black and living at the African Academy in Clapham with other boys from wealthy Sierra Leonean families. His life is a mixture of privilege and dispossession as he copes with the cruelty of his teachers, the rivalries and tensions among his schoolmates, a sense of duty towards his younger brother Robert and guilt over the death of another brother in Africa. Throughout, Jupiter strives to maintain his dignity, his Christian faith and pride in his roots.

But beyond the relative ease of Clapham lies another London, where poor black communities struggle for survival along the squalid reaches of the Thames. A world where Jupiter's education and background mean nothing and skin colour alone determines fate. Into this world his younger brother Robert vanishes and Jupiter is obliged to follow.

BLA Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master

This Story is set in India in 1947 at the time of Partition, touching on the importance of tolerance, love and family. The main character is Bilal, a boy determined to protect his dying father from the news of Partition, news that he knows will break his father's heart.

With great spirit and determination and with the help of his good friends, Bilal persuades others to collude with him in this deception, even printing false pages of the local newspaper to hide the ravages of unrest from his father. All that Bilal wants is for his father to die in peace. But that means Bilal has a very complicated relationship with the truth.

The NoviceThe Novice by Taran Matharu

Book 1 of the Summoner Series

Fletcher was nothing more than a humble blacksmith's apprentice, when a chance encounter leads to the discovery that he has the ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, he must travel with his demon to the Vocans Academy, where the gifted are trained in the art of summoning.

Join Fletcher at the academy where he will train as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire's war against the savage orcs. There he will rub shoulders with the children of the most powerful nobles in the land, but he must tread carefully as he learns who is friend and who is foe. 

SGSlave Girl by Patricia C McKissack

The book is written in the form of a diary kept by Clotee, a young slave girl on a Virginia plantation in 1859. Clotee secretly teaches herself to read and write while fanning William, her owner's young son, during his lessons with his mother Miz Lilly. Clotee is then discovered by Mr Harms, the tutor, who is actually working to help slaves escape via the underground railroad.

When Clotee is given the opportunity to escape, she must decide whether to run away to freedom or stay behind to help other slaves escape. To everyone in the slave quarters, freedom is the greatest word in the world and they pray for freedom, or as they call it, heaven. But will it ever come?

FBA Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

India, 1975. Desperate to preserve her independence from her abusive brother, Parsi widow Dina Dilal turns her cramped city apartment into a sweatshop. But when her eyesight begins to fail, she hires two tailors, uncle and nephew Ishvar and Om, who have fled from caste violence in their native village. She also takes in a lodger - Maneck, a reluctant student from the mountains. Initially wary of each other, the four strangers soon form a close bond of friendship, loyalty and love. But their lives are about to be turned upside down. Dina and her makeshift family find themselves struggling to survive and facing an uncertain future.

TBEThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.

Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. 



The Painter of Signs by R. K. Narayan

In this wry, funny, bittersweet story, love gets in the way of progress when Raman, a sign painter, who begins work on a sign for the local Family Planning Clinic, is preoccupied with thoughts about Daisy, the woman who commissioned him to do the work.

Diasy then convinces Raman to accompany her on a journey to bring birth control to the city of Malgudi and it is not all plain sailing.


JUJump Up Poetry by Grace Nichols

Dynamic, diverse, lively poetry for children that brings together the voices of black writers from Britain, Africa, America, Asia and the Caribbean.




12YaS12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Born into the blessings of liberty in a free State, Solomon Northup was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Bayou Boeuf region of Louisiana’s Red River Valley. 

Twelve Years a Slave is the chronicle of his captivity at the mercy of sadistic plantation owner Edwin Epps, who tested Northup’s tenacity and self-control under the most brutal conditions. Until fate brought a Canadian abolitionist to Epps’s farm, Northup thought he would never draw another free breath.

HYSHalf a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined.


AoHThe Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

In The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama calls for a different brand of politics. He writes with surprising intimacy and self deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment. At the heart of this book is Obama's vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems. Underlying his stories about family, friends, members of the Senate and even the president is a vigorous search for connection.

A president and a lawyer, a professor and a father, a Christian and a skeptic and above all, a student of history and human nature, Barak Obama has written a book of transforming power.

MiaSThe Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I am a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I am definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him will not be my story.

Daniel: I have always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

BaBBlack and British by David Olusosa

When did Africans first come to Britain?

Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings?

Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution?

These and many other questions are answered in this essential introduction to 1800 years of the Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian’s Wall right up to the present day.

IGThe Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

Jessamy Harrison is eight years old. Sensitive, whimsical, possessed of a powerful imagination, she spends hours writing, reading or simply hiding in the dark warmth of the airing cupboard. As the half-and-half child of an English father and a Nigerian mother, Jess just cannot shake off the feeling of being alone wherever she goes, and other kids are wary of her terrified fits of screaming. When she is taken to her mother's family compound in Nigeria, she encounters Titiola, a ragged little girl her own age. It seems that at last Jess has found someone who will understand her. TillyTilly knows secrets both big and small. But, as she shows Jess just how easy it is to hurt those around her, Jess begins to realise that she does not know who TillyTilly is at all.

GBGuantanamo Boy by Anna Perera

Khalid, a fifteen year old Muslim boy from Rochdale, is abducted from Pakistan while on holiday with his family. He is taken to Guantanamo Bay and held without charge, where his hopes and dreams are crushed under the cruellest of circumstances.

An innocent denied his freedom at a time when Western boys are finding theirs, Khalid tries and fails to understand what is happening to him and cannot fail to be a changed young man.

UM(Un)arranged Marriage by Bali Rai

Manny wants to be a footballer, or a pop star, or write a best seller. He does not want to get married.

Harry and Ranjit were waiting for me, waiting to take me to Derby, to a wedding. My wedding. A wedding that I had not asked for, that I did not want. To a girl who I do not know. If they had bothered to open their eyes, they would have seen me, seventeen, angry, upset but determined, determined to do my own thing, to choose my own path in life.

BBCThe Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Rauf

There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He is nine years old (just like me), but he is very strange. He never talks and never smiles and does not like sweets, not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite!

But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really is not very strange at all. He is a refugee who has run away from a War.  A real one.  With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people and the more I find out about him, the more I want to help. That is where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we have come up with a plan.

TSSA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.


CBCoram Boy by Jamila Gavin

The Coram man takes babies and money from desperate mothers, promising to deliver them safely to a Foundling Hospital in London. Instead, he murders them and buries them by the roadside, to the helpless horror of his mentally ill son, Mish.

Mish saves one, Aaron, who grows up happily unaware of his history, proving himself a promising musician.  As Aaron's new life takes him closer to his real family, the watchful Mish makes a terrible mistake, delivering Aaron and his best friend Toby back into the hands of the Coram man.

BVGBoy vs Girl by Na'ima B Robert

Farhana swallowed and reached for the hijab. But then she saw with absolute clarity the weird looks and smirks from the other girls and guys at school. Did she dare? And then there was Malik, what should she do about him? Faraz was thinking about Skrooz and the lads. Soon he would finally have their respect. But at what price? He heard Skrooz's voice, sharp as a switchblade: "This thing is powerful, blud. But you have to earn it, see? Just a few more errands for me..."

They are twins, born 6 minutes apart. Both are in turmooil and both have life changing choices to make, against the peaceful backdrop of Ramadan. Do Farhana and Faraz have enough courage to do the right thing? Can they help each other, or will one of them draw the other towards catastrophe?

PPhoenix by S F Said

A boy with the power of a star.

Lucky thinks he is an ordinary human boy, but one night, he dreams that the stars are singing to him and he wakes to find an uncontrollable power rising inside him.

Now he is on the run, racing through space, searching for answers. In a galaxy at war, where Humans and Aliens are deadly enemies, the only people who can help him are an Alien starship crew and an Alien warrior girl, with neon needles in her hair.

ASBA Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

A Suitable Boy is a love story: the tale of Lata and her mother's attempts to find her a suitable husband, through love or through exacting maternal appraisal.

At the same time, it is the story of India, newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis as a sixth of the world's population faces its first great general election and the chance to map its own destiny.

BSBurnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

August 9th, 1945, Nagasaki. Hiroko Tanaka takes in the view of the terraced slopes leading up to the sky. Wrapped in a kimono with three black cranes swooping across the back, she is twenty one and in love with the man she is to marry.

In a split second, the world turns white. In the next, it explodes with the sound of fire and the horror of realisation. In the numbing aftermath of a bomb that obliterates everything she has known, all that remains are the bird-shaped burns on her back, an indelible reminder of the world she has lost. In search of new beginnings, she travels to Delhi two years later.

BThe Boxer by Nikesh Shukla

Told over the course of the ten rounds of his first fight, this is the story of amateur boxer Sunny. A seventeen year old feeling isolated and disconnected in the city he's just moved to, Sunny joins a boxing club to learn to protect himself after a racist attack. He finds the community he has been desperately seeking at the club, and a mentor in trainer Shobu, who helps him find his place in the world. But racial tensions are rising in the city, and when a Far Right march through Bristol turns violent, Sunny is faced with losing his new best friend Keir to radicalisation.

WTWhite Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth is the story that follows two men from different backgrounds who meet and become friends during World War II.

The book starts on New Year’s Day in 1975 with the attempted and failed suicide of a middle aged Englishman named Archie Jones following his failed marriage. Archie is good friends with a Bangladeshi immigrant named Samad Iqbal, who is also recently married to a young woman, Alsana Begum. 

The story looks at how people's pasts affect their lives now, and the lives and futures of their children.

FForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

You have always been my best friend, my soul mate and now I have fallen in love with you too.

Why is that such a crime? She is pretty and talented, sweet sixteen and never been kissed.

He is seventeen, gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future.

And now they have fallen in love. But they are brother and sister.

AAMAnita and Me by Meera Syal

It is 1972. Meena is nine years old and lives in the village of Tollington, the jewel of the Black Country. She is the daughter of Indian parents who have come to England to give her a better life. As one of the few Punjabi inhabitants of her village, her daily struggle for independence is different from most. She wants fishfingers and chips, not chapati and dhal; she wants an English Christmas, not the usual interminable Punjabi festivities – but more than anything, she wants to roam the backyards of working-class Tollington with feisty Anita Rutter and her gang.

Blonde, cool, aloof, outrageous and sassy, Anita is everything Meena thinks she wants to be. Meena wheedles her way into Anita’s life, but the arrival of a baby brother, teenage hormones, the impending entrance exams for the posh grammar school and a motorcycling rebel without a future, threaten to turn Anita’s salad days sour.


The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Four Chinese women, drawn together by the shadow of their past, meet in San Francisco to play mahjong, invest in stocks, eat dim sum, and to say stories to each other. Nearly 40 years later, one of the women has died and her daughter arrives to take her place. However, the daughter never expected to learn of her mother's secret lifelong wish and the tragic way in which it has come true. The revelation creates among the women an urgent need to remember the past. 


RBRefugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah

Life is not safe for Alem. His father is Ethopian, his mother Eritrean. Their countries are at war and Alem is welcome in neither place.

So Alem is excited to spend a holiday in London with his father, until he wakes up to find him gone. What seems like a betrayal is in fact an act of love, but now Alem is alone in a strange country and he must forge his own path.


RoTRoll of Thunder Hear my Cry by Mildred Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is the classic story of a girl growing up in the deep South. Set in Mississippi at the height of the American Depression, this is the story of a family's struggle to maintain their integrity, pride and independence against the forces of a cruelly racist society.

The Mississippi of the 1930s was a hard place for a black child to grow up in, but still Cassie did not understand why farming his own land meant so much to her father. During that year, though, when the night riders were carrying hatred and destruction among her people, she learned about the great differences that divided them and when it was worth fighting for a principle even if it brought terrible hardships.

HuGThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen year old Starr lives in two worlds; the poor neighborhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice.

TCPThe Colour Purple by Alice Walker

Celie has grown up poor in rural Georgia, despised by the society around her and abused by her own family. She strives to protect her sister, Nettie, from a similar fate, and while Nettie escapes to a new life as a missionary in Africa, Celie is left behind without her best friend and confidante, married off to an older suitor, and sentenced to a life alone with a harsh and brutal husband.

In an attempt to transcend a life that often seems too much to bear, Celie begins writing letters directly to God. She then meets Shug Avery, her husband’s mistress and her stepson’s wife, Sophia, who challenges her to fight for independence. And though the many letters from Celie’s sister are hidden by her husband, Nettie’s unwavering support will prove to be the most breathtaking of all.

CNCrongton Nights by Alex Wheatle

Living on the South Crongton council estate has its worries and life for McKay has been even tougher since his mum died.

His dad has been working all hours to keep the bailiffs from their door. His brother is always out riding the streets at night, tempting trouble and now, having strayed off his turf on a heroic (if misguided) mission to help out a girl, McKay finds himself facing a friend's crazy ex-boyfriend, some power tripping hood rats and a notoriously violent gangster with a vendetta which hits too close to home.

Poor McKay. He never asked for trouble . . . But during one madcap night of adventure and danger, he will find out who his true friends are and what it means to stick with your family.

TTBThe Tunnels Below by Nadine Wild Palmer

How do you find your way out of the dark?

On her twelfth birthday, the last thing Cecilia expected was to find herself lost in a labyrinth of tunnels beneath London. Afraid, alone, but determined, she sets to work on her escape, and soon realises that perhaps there is a reason she and the mysterious marble her sister gave her have ended up so far from home.

Deep in the darkness roam the terrible Corvus, tyrants of the magical realm below. Cecilia's struggle to return to her family becomes a mission of great danger and adventure, as she tries to help her new friends to free themselves and their beautiful, unique world. But will her heart be brave enough to ensure she does not stay trapped in the darkness forever?

ETETEverything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Maddy is allergic to the world; stepping outside the sterile sanctuary of her home could kill her.

But then Olly moves in next door and just like that, Maddy realises there is more to life than just being alive. You only get one chance at first love and Maddy is ready to risk everything, everything to see where it leads.


Nicky Raddon - October 2021