Cybils YA Brown Books

I may have to hurt my library system because they don’t seem to have (m)any of the Cybils books by brown authors.

I will not rant about it. I will not rant about it. I will not…

Some of these books are new and I understand that procuring them isn’t as easy as me walking into B&N. But gimme gimme gimme. I want to get my hands on these books.

*sigh* Looks like I’ll be copping a squat at my local bookstore to read them.

I haven’t done that since I was a little girl. Might be nice.

So far, the brown books, below, have been nominated for the Cybils YA category. I’ll go back and fill in with reviews once I actually get my paws on them.

Bronxwood by Coe Booth

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Perez
I always know when a book is good – I start getting emotional on behalf of the character. In the case of seventeen-year-old Marisa, I was pretty much pissed at her family throughout the entire book. What Can’t Wait is a tale of struggle against familial culture. The more Marisa strives to make a life of her own, the more her family sucks her into their vortex of neediness laying the guilt on thick if she ever dares to take a moment to do anything but work and earn money.

For every teen who wished they had parents who didn’t care about them earning good grades, there’s a Marisa. All she wants is to get into college and pursue engineering. Shouldn’t be a problem for a near-straight A student. Only problem is Marisa’s parents see her pursuit of college as a potential hole in the household income. They not only don’t support her dream, her father outright attempts to squash it. Most stories focus on the success of second generation immigrants because they benefit from their parents pursuit of the “American dream.” What Can’t Wait is about the flip side – when a kid of two immigrant parents is expected to help maintain the dream by equally contributing to the household.

Marisa is genuinely dedicated to her submissive mother, flighty sister, strict father and slacker brother. Readers will root for her to find her way. I even found myself wanting her to risk turning her back on them for it. But at the heart of it, you want her to work it out with the family intact.

Dreaming of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia

Island’s End by Padma Venkatraman (this one they had)
I’m always fascinated by cultures untouched by modern man. There’s something incredibly awe-inspiring about people who live the way man lived millions of years ago…by choice!

Yes, there are many modern-day conveniences I often feel I couldn’t live without (take away my iPod at your own risk). But at the heart of it, I periodically yearn for a much simpler existence. Island’s End is about the En-ge, a culture of people living on the remote Andaman Islands. Fifteen-year-old Uido, is selected to be her tribe’s next holy woman. A weighty job for a child, but it’s very believable that Uido could not only succeed in the job but is also destined for it.

Venkatraman weaves a delicate story about the En-ge’s traditions, Uido’s fight to preserve those traditions while allowing for the reality that the outside world cannot be kept at bay forever, and the impact Uido’s new role in the tribe has on her relationships.

My only gripe (and I term that lightly) was the final outcome of the sibling rivalry between Uido and her older brother, Ashu. I won’t get spoilerish, so I’ll leave it at that.

I enjoy YA where the protags come off as a realistic teen. Uido has a special calling and she’s as excited as she is anxious about that. Venkatraman strikes the right balance throughout the entire book of a character that is simultaneously blessed and burdened.

Thanks to Edi for shouting out the other brown books. I promise to get to ‘em all.

Pull by B.A. Binns
Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle
Illegal by Bettina Restrepo
Karma by Kathy Ostlere
Now is the time for running by Michael Williams
My own worst frenemy by Kimberly Reid
Orchards by Holly Thomspon
Putting make up on the fat boy by Bil Wright
Queen of water by Laura Resau
The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
This Thing Called the Future J.L. Powers
Trouble with Half A Moon by Danette Vigilante
When the Stars go Blue by Caridad Ferrar

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8 Responses to Cybils YA Brown Books

  1. Edi says:

    POC nominations are really growing!!

    Camo girl, Pull, Guantanamo Boy, Hurricane Dancers, Illegal, Karma, Now is the time for running, My own worst frenemy, orchards, Putting make up on the fat boy, Queen of water, The latte Rebellion, This thing called the future, Trouble with half a moon, When the stars go blue

    I really didn’t care for Island at all. I guess I need to get that review written and posted!

  2. Abby says:

    Before you hurt them, let your librarians know what books you’re looking for that they don’t have! Often libraries will accept purchase requests from patrons; I try to buy everything my patrons ask me for. It’s not always possible due to budget constraints, etc., but a lot of times titles slip through the cracks and we need our patrons to give us their suggestions.

  3. paulahy says:

    @Abby I was only kidding. I understand that some of the issue is these books are brand new. At least two just came out a few weeks ago. And I’m having a similar issue with all of the newer books. Just feeling the pressure because anything the system doesn’t get between now and December I’ll have to read hanging out at B&N style.

    @Edi isn’t it great? So many good brown selections. Really interested in your take on Island’s End.

  4. The main character in Sean Griswold’s Head, Payton, was of half Colombian ancestry. That should count, right?

  5. paulahy says:

    The topic of how to “define” brown is oft discussed amongst us here at BBS. The best we could all agree on is that the author or character is of color.

    If one of the MC’s parents is Colombian then to me that MC is also Colombian and that would count. Now, that’s the practical and short answer.

    The long winded answer involves, does the MC identify with being part of the Latin culture or is it just casually mentioned that he’s half Colombian and after that you never hear about it again?

    The reason that plays a role is, the point of BBS has always been to uplift books that show people of color outside the realm of their usual lanes. To show that we’re more than the historical or stereotypical confines of our literary past. So while the book doesn’t have to be about his latin roots, I’m more likely to define it as a brown book if his cultural background plays some sort of role in who he is.

    To show these books can appeal beyond brown readers, all the better that his racial or cultural background doesn’t play a role in the plot. But I like to see that the MC’s roots are somehow related to how she/he’s grown up and how it impacts how he/she views the world around them.

  6. I started Perfect by Ellen Hopkins this morning (on audio), and there are something like 4 different narrators, but one of them, Andre, is African American. She’s setting it up for racial tension, based on what I got through this morning.

  7. paulahy says:

    I’ve been wanting to read Perfect. There are a few of the cybils noms that my system only has on audio. I thought that was odd. Don’t think Perfect was one of them though.

  8. scthree says:

    growing up the only brown books for YA that I could find were Y is for Yolanda, In the Time of Butterfiles, and How the Garcia girls lost their accents. I always wanted books about black girls who looked and sounded like me. I’m glad that at age 30 there is a website cataloging all things Brown (all shades of it) for those of us who are YA at heart.

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