The best books by Black authors to give you all the feels

Why am I passionate about this?

When people ask me what makes me fall in love with a book, good characters will always be my first answer. And by good, I don’t mean perfect individuals who make no mistakes. I mean characters who make me feel something, whether it’s rage or hope or longing or disgust. As an author, I like filling my stories with messy, desperate characters who aren’t afraid to show emotion. And as an introverted flight attendant, I spend a lot of time observing people and I’m often fascinated by what I discover. The best stories—like people—have layers and depth to their characters. I like finding out what’s underneath.


I wrote...

Book cover of We Deserve Monuments

What is my book about?

Family secrets, a swoon-worthy romance, and a slow-burn mystery collide in We Deserve Monuments, a YA debut from Jas Hammonds that explores how racial violence can ripple down through generations.

We Deserve Monuments follows Avery Anderson, a queer biracial seventeen-year-old whose life is upended when her family moves from DC to rural Bardell, Georgia to care for her terminally ill grandmother. In Bardell, Avery uncovers unsettling secrets in regards to her family tree while navigating her blooming romantic feelings for the girl next door.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Deep in Providence

Jas Hammonds Why did I love this book?

I was first captivated by the stunning cover, but stayed because I love stories about groups of friends and the emotions and connections that bind them for better or worse. Deep in Providence showcases this beautifully through the lenses of Miliani, Inez, and Natalie, three girls whose lives are shattered when their friend Jasmine is killed by a drunk driver. The girls turn to Filipino spells and folklore in an attempt to bring Jasmine back from the dead. Desperation and yearning bleed through these pages, and by the end, I was sobbing. This book is a beautiful exploration of grief, told in the tenderest way.

By Riss M. Neilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deep in Providence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

"Haunting, intimate, and beautifully told: a magical debut novel from a writer to watch.” —Emily M. Danforth, national bestselling and award-winning author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post

A spellbinding young adult fantasy debut following three best friends who turn to magic when they're haunted by a friend's death...and perhaps her spirit, combining the atmospheric thrills of The Hazel Wood with the nuanced realism of Erika L. Sanchez.

For best friends Miliani, Inez, Natalie and Jasmine, Providence, Rhode Island has a magic of its own. From the bodegas and late-night food trucks on Broad Street to The Hill that watches…


Book cover of The Weight of the Stars

Jas Hammonds Why did I love this book?

I try to limit the amount of physical books I purchase because my apartment is already overflowing with them. But there are some books so good, I need a copy of my ownThe Weight of the Stars is one of those. Told in short, micro-fiction style chapters is the story of Ryann, a girl who dreams of traveling to space but doesn’t see a way out her trailer park on the “wrong” side of town. But then she meets Alexandria, a mysterious loner who is angry at the world because her own mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system. Lush and heartbreaking, this queer, big-hearted book cemented Ancrum as one of my must-read authors.

By K. Ancrum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Weight of the Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Ryann Bird dreams of travelling across the stars. But she settles for acting out and skipping school.

Until she meets Alexandria, a furious loner. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the girls are brought together despite themselves - and Ryann learns Alexandria's secret: Her mother is an astronaut on a one-way trip past the edge of the solar system.

Every night, Alexandria waits for radio signals from her mother. And now Ryann lifts Alexandria onto the roof day after day, until the silence between them grows into friendship . . . . and eventually something more.


Book cover of In the Key of Us

Jas Hammonds Why did I love this book?

I love books that make me feel like a teenager again. That makes me remember the swoon of first love and how vulnerable it can be figuring out who you are. In the Key of Us not only accomplishes this once, but twice through the dual-POV narration of Andi and Zora, two of the only Black girls at a summer music camp. This middle grade novel tackles topics such as death and anxiety and mental health with such delicacy and warmth. This book felt like a crackling bonfire, lighting up young aches that I’d forgotten were there.

By Mariama J. Lockington,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Key of Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Andi is grappling with grief following the death of her mother. Zora is exhausted by trying to please her success-oriented parents. Both feel very much alone. Until a summer music camp brings them together.

The only two Black girls at camp in a sea of white children, Andi and Zora slowly begin to connect and reveal their deepest fears and dreams. While Andi is a natural on trumpet, Zora doesn't know if she wants to be a floutist since she also loves to dance.

As Andi and Zora struggle to figure out who they really are,…


Book cover of The Space Between Worlds

Jas Hammonds Why did I love this book?

I love adult sci-fi, but as a mostly contemporary reader, sometimes I can find the language and length a little daunting. I picked up this book intrigued by the premise—multiverse travel is finally possible, but you can’t visit a world in which your counterpart is still alive. Our main character, Cara, is a skilled traveler with the ability to visit hundreds of worlds because so many of her parallel selves are dead. But when one of her last remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara is tasked with uncovering what happened in this high-stakes, action-packed page-turner. Steeped with searing class commentary and characters that leap off the page, this book made me want to live in any world Micaiah Johnson creates.

By Micaiah Johnson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Space Between Worlds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times bestseller. Winner of the Kitschies Golden Tentacle award.

A stunning science fiction debut, The Space Between Worlds is both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

'My mother used to say I was born reaching, which is true. She also used to say it would get me killed, which it hasn't. Not yet, anyway.'

Born in the dirt of the wasteland, Cara has fought her entire life just to survive. Now she has done the impossible, and landed herself a comfortable life on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley…


Book cover of The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be: A Speculative Memoir of Transracial Adoption

Jas Hammonds Why did I love this book?

I have to spotlight a 2023 release that completely blew me away when I read an advanced reader’s copy. Shannon Gibney’s part memoir, part speculative fiction novel about growing up as a mixed-raced Black transracial adoptee is stunning and should be on everyone’s radar. Interwoven are letters, family photos, adoption documents, and the fictional story of Erin Powers—the name Shannon was given at birth. As a mixed Black & white person, I related so much to Shannon (and Erin’s) inner thoughts navigating mostly-white spaces. This book is a unique, genre-bending exploration of the complexities of the adoptee experience, and is one of the best things I’ve read all year.

By Shannon Gibney,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Dream Country author Shannon Gibney returns with The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be, a book woven from her true story of growing up as a mixed-Black transracial adoptee and fictional story of Erin Powers, the name Shannon was given at birth, a child raised by a white, closeted lesbian.

At its core, the novel is a tale of two girls on two different timelines occasionally bridged by a mysterious portal and their shared search for a complete picture of their origins. Gibney surrounds that story with reproductions of her own adoption documents, letters, family photographs, interviews, medical…


You might also like...

The Case of the Zombie Ninjas

By Erik Christopher Martin,

Book cover of The Case of the Zombie Ninjas

Erik Christopher Martin Author Of The Case of the French Fry Phantom: Dotty Morgan Supernatural Sleuth Book One

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Social Worker Tabletop role playing gamer Reader Perpetual student

Erik's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Twelve-year-old supernatural sleuth Dotty Morgan becomes embroiled in an ancient conflict between rival Japanese factions, and the timing couldn't be worse. A new girl in town creates jealousy between Dotty and her girlfriend, and her mother invites a nightmare houseguest to stay with them. She must put the drama aside and focus to solve a four-hundred-year-old murder and protect the people she loves.

This is the second book in the Dotty Morgan Supernatural Sleuth series.

The Case of the Zombie Ninjas

By Erik Christopher Martin,

What is this book about?

The Sato Corporation comes to Elderton.

The Sato Corporation built the new Crooked Creek Commons parking garage. They bought Blue Devil Castle for their new corporate retreat. They funded the Waverly Perchance Memorial Garden, a project organized by twelve-year-old Dotty Morgan. Now, Mr. Sato himself takes an interest in Dotty and her dream of owning and operating a legit Supernatural Sleuthing Agency. Mr. Sato's interest comes with cash.

If Dotty lets Mr. Sato examine the Japanese sword and cup her dad recently acquired, then Mr. Sato will approve a generous small business grant. All Dotty's dreams will come true. Simple,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in multiracial people, death, and African Americans?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about multiracial people, death, and African Americans.

Multiracial People Explore 69 books about multiracial people
Death Explore 338 books about death
African Americans Explore 722 books about African Americans