It can be argued (feel free to do so in the comments, as a matter-of-fact) that when it comes to YA for African Americans, once you step out of the traditional – literary fiction of the historical and realistic variety, much of what’s being marketed, currently, falls into two new categories – hood or christian.
That means, adding to the usual portrayals, readers are now presented with the trials and tribulations of growing up young in the hood (and this can be an urban hood or a rural/suburban one) or books with a less edgy more wholesome, christian layer to them. What’s still missing, in mass quantities anyway, are the portrayals that lie between the two.
Oh will you never be happy, you’re asking.
Actually I’m getting there. Because Kimani TRU fills the void between the two nicely.
This year’s 28 Days Later contenders were ripe with Kimani TRU authors. So many, more than half of the YA authors featured would have come from the line had we selected them all.
In Joyce Davis’, YA debut, Can’t Stop The Shine, the story centers around two bickering sisters who put their differences aside to help one of them win an American Idol-like contest.
In an age where reality TV is now the norm among programming, a story about dream pursual is timely and relevent to teens of all colors.
Another bonus – much like Tia William’s cast in It Chicks, the teen protag is a student at an elite performing arts high school.
This mini-influx of books revolved around performing arts students is just in time for the Fame remake…you know you’re going to watch it!
A writer and editor for African American lifestyle mags (Upscale, Heart & Soul and Honey among them), it’s no surprise that Davis would showcase some element of the entertainment field. I hope there’s more like Can’t Stop The Shine planned. Even without trying, there are many lessons to be learned about sacrifice and growing as you chase dreams and who better to cover them then someone who talks to dream chasers (and grabbers) for a living?
Earl Sewell offers two stories of change and redemption revolved around sixteen-year-old Keysha.
In Keysha’s Drama and the follow-up, Lesson Learned, which was released this month, Sewell tells the story of a young girl abandoned by her trouble-making mother. But it’s less a tale of woe than what can happen when you’re cast out of one end of the spectrum and thrown into another.
The reader watches young Keysha rebel against the good life with her father, step mom and step brother, until being the bad girl hits a wall.
African American teens in the suburbs will relate well to the rules of engagement when it comes to choosing a clique. Do you hang with the multi-culti crowd that’s “goody-goody” or the homogenous one that’s “cool.”
Between Sewell and Davis’ works lives a cadre of books dealing with everything from the mixing of an interracial family (How to Salsa in a Sari) to the historical fiction with a contemporary flare from Beverly Jenkins.
What Kimani TRU offers is the black, white and all the greys in between that make up the African American teen experience.
The Buzz on Kimani TRU Books
“I recommend Belle to die-hard Beverly Jenkins’ fans, lovers of historical romance, and readers looking for a page turner to cuddle up with.” – APOOO BookClub
“Jaded is a good, young adult novel that can be appreciated by all ages. I recommend it to readers who love a fast moving book with a message.” -
“The characters, storyline and language were very age-appropriate for the age group intended and I would recommend this book to any African-American high-school girl that needs encouragement to read more.” APOOO Bookclub on Can’t Stop The Shine
“HOW TO SALSA IN A SARI is a fast-paced read with plenty of twists and turns that will leave you asking, “What will Issa do next?” Buy. Read. Enjoy.” Author, Tera Lynn Childs