The best books with strong female leads of color

Who am I?

I chose these stories because as a Black woman, seeing characters like me in stories as the main character instead of the sidekick or friend is always so refreshing. Like the main characters of my own novels, Black women taking charge is something to be celebrated.


I wrote...

Thunder and Lightning

By Amber Mosby,

Book cover of Thunder and Lightning

What is my book about?

A woman living on her own marked by a tragic moment in her past; a man hiding from the world. When their paths crossed on that fateful day they couldn’t begin to imagine how they would come to need one another. This is the story of Camille and Jacob.

Running for her life after being attacked in an alley by two men, Camille finds herself caught fast in the arms of former confederate soldier Jake Garrett. After protecting her from her pursuing attackers, Jake agrees to travel with Camille as her bodyguard on an upcoming trip. He couldn’t know that soon he would owe his own life to her.

The books I picked & why

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Children of Blood and Bone

By Tomi Adeyemi,

Book cover of Children of Blood and Bone

Why this book?

The beauty of this story is that it finally gives magic to the nations of Africa. After years of reading stories about witches and magicians around the world, we finally have a series that focuses on the great continent and its rich history of folklore.

The main character is named Zelie, a young woman from a tribe of fishermen. Her personal relationship with her mother and her father shaped her into a leader she did not know she needed to be. Filled with the cultures of various African tribes, this book delves into the great Orishas and their magic. It touches on healing a broken land and connecting a disjointed people…all through the visions of one girl.

Children of Blood and Bone

By Tomi Adeyemi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Children of Blood and Bone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone. Winner of the Tonight Show Summer Reads with Jimmy Fallon.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

Zelie remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled - Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zelie's Reaper mother summoning forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zelie without…


Dawn

By Octavia E. Butler,

Book cover of Dawn

Why this book?

Never has a book fascinated me and angered me as much as this one. Octavia is a master at pulling the audience in and challenging what the reader sees as normal or acceptable. 

The story opens on a Black woman being held captive by aliens in an empty room with no clue as to how she got there. She is forced to accept them and interact with them in order to save humanity which has been all but wiped out. Follow along as humanity must decide between giving up the ability to have children…or forming a new race with their alien captors.

Dawn

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Dawn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of the most significant literary artists of the twentieth century' JUNOT DIAZ

'Octavia Butler was playing out our very real possibilities as humans. I think she can help each of us to do the same' GLORIA STEINEM

One woman is called upon to reconstruct humanity in this hopeful, thought-provoking novel by the bestselling, award-winning author. For readers of Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison and Ursula K. Le Guin.

When Lilith lyapo wakes in a small white room with no doors or windows, she remembers a devastating war, and a husband and child long lost to her.

She finds herself living…


Scythe

By Neal Shusterman,

Book cover of Scythe

Why this book?

Prepare yourself for a future where death no longer exists. In the world of Scythe, humanity is now governed by a computer system so advanced that poverty, illness, and mortality no longer plague the human race. Instead, a group of people known as Scythes decides who lives and who dies in an attempt at population control. 

Enter Citra…a young woman with a good head on her shoulders. She boldly accepts the opportunity to be trained as a scythe. Citra must decide just what kind of executioner she wants to be and if she has what it takes to judge the value of human life. 

Scythe

By Neal Shusterman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Scythe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A true successor to The Hunger Games." Maggie Stiefvater

In a perfect world, what is there left to fear? A chilling and thought-provoking sci-fi novel from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.

A dark, gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death.

In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ("gleaned") by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes' apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn…


Paper Girls, Volume 1

By Brian K. Vaughan,

Book cover of Paper Girls, Volume 1

Why this book?

This group of graphic novels will take you on a time traveling, inter-dimensional, coming-of-age journey for a group of 12-year-old girls. I include this choice because of the versatility of the characters. It's easy for the reader to see themselves in any of the leads including Tiff Quilkin, a smart, video game-loving young woman from a mixed-race family. She learns a lot about herself as a Black woman, learns about what it means to have white loved ones in modern society, and learns about what she stands for as an individual. It is her quick thinking that helps the others navigate the future they are suddenly transported to and it is her prudent planning that gives the girls a way to escape when they are being hunted. 

As a whole, Paper Girls is an amazing series. The fact that a young Black woman plays an integral part in the story only adds to it.

Paper Girls, Volume 1

By Brian K. Vaughan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Paper Girls, Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang's Eisner Award winning series Paper Girls is coming Amazon Prime Video in July 2022!

From Brian K. Vaughan, #1 New York Times bestselling writer of SAGA, and Cliff Chiang, legendary artist of WONDER WOMAN, comes the first volume of an all-new ongoing adventure.

In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

Collecting Issues #1-5 for only $9.99! "Along with Paper Girls,…


Mama

By Terry McMillan,

Book cover of Mama

Why this book?

The first time I read this book I was just a teenager. The story of a Black woman escaping domestic abuse and raising children on her own was something I had watched play out in my own family. I could see my grandmother in those pages, my mother in the struggles described, my aunts' resentments, and my uncles' poor choices clearly in the story. It felt like someone had peeked into my own family history and put it to paper. 

Although McMillan is often overlooked as a writer, Mama is not a story to be missed. 

Mama

By Terry McMillan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mama as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “funny [and] touching” novel of an African American woman determined to triumph, by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Waiting to Exhale (Detroit Free Press).
 
Mildred Peacock is fed up with poverty—and with the jealous rampages of her husband, Crook. When Crook runs over her foot with his ’59 Mercury, she finally kicks him out to raise her five kids on her own.
 
Resourceful and sly, sassy and sexy, she’s willing to do just about anything to pay the bills. But she loses job after job, and one man after another, until alcohol and pills are her only…


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