Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. I thought this would be a fun way to share a condensed version of potential rambles and thoughts that I have.
This Week’s Theme:
Ten Books That Embrace Diversity
Today’s prompt looks at books that foster diversity in its storytelling. I do have qualms about the title of the prompt (re: celebrating diversity) but more on that after. I’ll be basing this list on books I’ve read and several I hope to read in the future (you know how it is with TBRs).
(I also lied–it’s way more than 10.)
Ru – Kim Thuy
Emigrant perspective; cultural landscapes of Vietnamese and Canadian-French heritage; a son with autism
The Alex Crow – Andrew Smith
Syrian refugee and emigrant perspective; imagination versus experimentalism for boys; schizophrenic character
A Trick of the Light – Lois Metzger
Narrated by anorexia endured by a teenage boy; broken family but relevant parental support
More Than This – Patrick Ness
Vibrant cast (LGBT+, foreigner, overweight, coloured skin); moral ambiguity; child abduction
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin
Struggling widowed part-Indian; part-Black adoptive daughter; the cultivation of goodwill to the next generation; regards treatment of near-octogenarians (really old people)
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Racial conflict of the then is still a persisting issue in the now
Will Read (Eventually)
(Note that the entire synopsis of the blurb isn’t listed because space. Now go forth and consider adding them to your reading pile!)
Not If I See You First – Eric Lindstrom
Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.
Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you’re just getting in my way or bothering me.
Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.
Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That’s why she created the Rules: Don’t treat her any differently just because she’s blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.
The Way We Bared Our Souls – Willa Strayhorn
Lo has a family history of MS, and is starting to come down with all the symptoms. Thomas, a former child soldier from Liberia, is plagued by traumatic memories of his war-torn past. Kaya would do anything to feel physical pain, but a rare condition called CIP keeps her numb. Ellen can’t remember who she was before she started doing drugs. Kit lost his girlfriend in a car accident and now he just can’t shake his newfound fear of death.
When they trade totems as a symbol of shedding and adopting one another’s sorrows, they think it’s only an exercise. But in the morning, they wake to find their burdens gone…and replaced with someone else’s.
Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
All American Boys – Jason Reynold, Brendan Kiely
A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galuzzi, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?
But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera.
Bright Lights, Dark Nights – Stephen Emond (Graphic Novel)
Walter Wilcox has never been in love. That is, until he meets Naomi, and sparks, and clever jokes, fly. But when his cop dad is caught in a racial profiling scandal, Walter and Naomi, who is African American, are called out at school, home, and online. Can their bond (and mutual love of the Foo Fighters) keep them together?
Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin
The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.
On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure.
We Are The Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson
Henry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.
But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.
Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift.
So, yeah, I don’t know if I enjoy the celebratory label of the original prompt (re: Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters). Treating diversity as a non-issue—present but not really made to be a spectacle out of—is what I hope our social culture grows into becoming. (We’re far from that point though.) Embracing the subtleties that define a person’s difference is great (necessary even) but I’m unsure if it’s something that needs a “cool, you’re different, let’s glorify that” attitude. Know that I’m not against diversity, its voice, or the stories that ought to be shared; I’m iffier toward the choice of wording credited to this prompt.
If I put myself into diverse shoes and ask: would I like to see a voice representative of my story told? Absolutely. But would I want special treatment and hurrahs reminding me about my difference—that’s where I may need to draw the line. It might seem like an exaggeration [and perhaps it is] and I may be looking at it from a different angle, but that’s just my impression regarding this TTT.
connect: afterthoughtAn // twitter | anotherafterthought // goodreads
26 thoughts on “[Top Ten Tuesday] – #68 – Ten Books That Embrace Diversity”
My reaction to your Afterthoughts was just, “YES. PREACHHHHHHHH.”
I haven’t read anything on this list, but I do plan to read More Than This, The Alex Crow, Ru, and Symptoms of Being Human. Great list!
Yeah I didn’t want to go too in depth with chirping the semantics of how diversity is portrayed but I’m glad the words resonated with you!
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I definitely agree with your thoughts about “celebrating” diversity. I hate the whole We Need Diverse Books hash tag. Not because I don’t think we need that, but in so many of those books there seems to be a “token” character or the whole book ends up being so “preachy” it’s not enjoyable. You can have a diverse cast of characters, with their backgrounds or struggles influencing their development, while still letting the plot be the point of the book.
Yikes–don’t even get me started with that WNDB hashtag!
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I am sooooo excited to read Everything Everything!
Less than a month until it’s release now!
EVERYTHING EVERYTHING is my most anticipated read!
Haha, everyone seems to be hyping up this book (and perhaps for good reason too)!
Everything, Everything is EVERYTHING. lol. It’s such a great book!
I am currently reading More Than This. I’m not too far into it yet, but I’m excited about finally reading it.
Ahhhhh. So much Everything, Everything hype! I don’t know if this will turn out like another We Were Liars/Red Queen for me -_-.
But I remember you mentioning you put More Than This on hiatus! So I hope you do give it another try (I know the beginning is extremely slow paced–so I empathize with you on that).
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I HOPE NOT! I hope you love it as much as everyone else (and me). 🙂
Yeah, but I plan to pick it up again. It was just a slow start and I wasn’t in the mood for it. I do really want to read it though and will again soon!
I loved The Storified Life of AJ Fikry. I’ll keep an eye out for Not If I See You First. I still use the diversity tag because it’s a great way to discover more books but I completely understand how it can be used in a potentially limiting way of framing the conversation around the issue – embracing diverse reading as a normal way/practice does have a more open tone to it.
Fikry was such a surprising read! I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started it but there so much power in such a tiny little book. No regrets there.
I’m glad you understood my intentions in the word vomit regarding diversity being embraced instead of celebrated!
I completely agree with you on the Afterthought. The We Need Diverse Books movement is helping to get more titles published and more widely read, but I’m glad to see a lot of readers moving past the idea of celebrating diversity to just plain expecting it as a reflection of the world we live in. I’m reading more diverse books because it’s making me enjoy reading more to find a wider range of experiences represented.
But calling attention to diverse books helps make them more visible, and helps me find/share the books I want to read. Sometimes they’re hard to find otherwise (especially in some genres). As well as making the call for high quality, more naturally diverse (as in not token characters or cliches that aren’t integrated into the story) stories heard more clearly. It’s tricky, but I feel like it’s a stage a lot of people (and some publishers!) are starting to move beyond. Progress…
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I definitely appreciate what WNDB has done (considering I’ve seen shelves at the store specific to this hashtag). We’re definitely still in that stage of needing to increase visibility; which I’m not discrediting, it was just the wording that made me uncomfortable concerning the treatment of diverse books rather than the actual content itself (if that makes sense). But indeed baby steps!
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Oh wow. ALL AMERICAN BOYS. Thanks for putting this on my radar! And we share a couple of titles, too. And while I’m on board with you on your afterthought, I don’t find “that celebrate diversity” problematic. I feel like, in the wider sense, “to celebrate” doesn’t necessarily equate “to glorify.” But don’t listen to me.
Also? Not if I See You First is cover goals!
Perhaps it’s all semantics.
I mean if someone came up to me and said “let’s celebrate diversity [because you’re ___ ]” …yeah, I don’t know LOL. I’m sure they mean well but uh…hmmmm…
I really wanna read Everything, Everything! Great list!
I hope you do, Mr. Reyes! It seems like the go-to September (or maybe Fall) hyped book!
good point! I chose to celebrate my being a “diverse” kind of human being. If it means I get to celebrate my being different, then so be it. I chose to be me, which is different from anybody. 🙂
Wait, Joy, IS THIS SARCASM? I CAN’T TELL.
I like the idea behind your afterthoughts – ‘celebrating’ diversity shouldn’t be done in a tokenistic way. But I also think that right now we’re still in a place where if we DON’T pay attention to making sure we’re reading stories from different perspectives, we’ll only ever see the same perspectives again and again. I agree the ‘diversity’ topic may feel a little forced at times, but I also find lists like these really useful because they give me recommendations of things that aren’t just ‘diverse’ but are also amazing in their own right, and just happen to include different perspectives. That’s the way I see it anyway. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future we’ll reach a point where lists like these are no longer necessary! Here’s hoping 🙂 Here’s my list if you’re interested!
Yeah I’m definitely not trying to downplay the need for diverse reads at all! I honestly just read this prompt and thought “would there ever be a prompt to “celebrate” being [non-diverse]” (whatever that entails). Obviously it’s a polarizing thought but that’s just how I took the specific celebratory wording. (But definitely to each their own.)
I love what #WNDB has done so far since its conception; it’s only going to encourage greater things and visibility from yesterdays perspectives (well, that’s the hope at least).
I’ve seen Everything Everything on several lists, and I can’t say enough good things about The Help. That book was phenomenal to me.
I know! It’s turning into the hype of the season and then I’m going to end up hating it. I just know it. THIS ALWAYS SEEMS TO HAPPEN TO ME :(! But yes, The Help was wonderful!