Hello everyone! Happy Saturday and welcome to another Woven In Books post. Today we have Lauren @ Love Yo Shelf talking about her favourite diverse stories and books. These are some amazing books and there are only glowing reviews for them so if you need something awesome to read then make sure to check these books out!
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As soon as I met Zayneb and Adam, Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali became my favorite YA contemporary of all time. S.K. Ali contends with the multitudes and diversity that exist within a marginalized identity, and the individual ways in which people process and respond to ignorance and prejudice. I think people can sometimes underestimate the depths that teenagers hold because of their age, but the truth is that we can all learn from people like Zayneb and Adam. Zayneb stands up for what’s right, for herself and others, while Adam’s quiet strength and position in life enables him to minimize the power other people’s words have over him. Their romance is unbelievably sweet and prompts them both to recognize that while their own reactions to injustices are both valid, they can both afford to be a little more like the other. Love From A to Z immediately earned its place on my ideal high school reading list because of its message for teenagers and adults alike. It’s empowering and hopeful and exactly what I think is needed in the world we live in.
Crier’s War is a refreshing and imaginative take on race wars in a way that I’ve found few people are willing to talk about. It is unapologetically and unabashedly political, and I wish more people were talking about it. One of the major plot points is Crier’s struggle to have her political voice be heard, and while she later realizes that she is part of a larger problem, she has a lot of sound ideas. Ayla serves as a constant reminder that while Crier’s intentions might be good, her position often means she hurts the same people she’s trying to help because of her ignorance. I love anything that tackles privilege, how we understand it, and how we react when forced to confront it, and Crier’s War handles it beautifully. Another thing I love about this book is how unafraid Nina Varela is to use the word brown. Growing up and reading sci-fi and fantasy from 2010 on, that’s just something I’m not used to seeing. In a world where some are Made and are carefully designed to not have any flaws, the default choice of my adolescence would have been to make Crier white as snow. For me, the choice to not only make Crier brown but describe her as such marks a turn from the sci-fi and fantasy I had to make do with and helps set the tone for what we should expect instead of what we have to settle for.
My beautiful, precious angels. I read We Set the Dark on Fire during my barely 3 hour plane ride to California last month and I could not believe how long it had taken me to discover such an amazing book. We Set the Dark on Fire made me gasp, cry, and want to scream at Dani and Carmen to just kiss already. While I kept wanting to just smash Dani’s and Carmen’s heads together, what really entranced me were the political statements that dare the reader to keep looking. Privilege can skew our perceptions of realities and enables us to prioritize our own comfort over the injustices we can afford to choose to ignore. More than anything, I loved reading about Dani’s experience grappling with the privilege her parents sacrificed everything to give her and trying to reconcile that with her own desire to fight for justice. I think that’s a sentiment that a lot of first or second generation kids grapple with at some point in their lives, and I love that We Set the Dark on Fire contends with some of the darkest aspects of humanity while keeping a spark of light in the center.
This is easily, easily my new favorite book ever. I picked up Steel Crow Saga thanks to the readathon hosted by the wonderful Shealea and I am eternally grateful. Not only is Steel Crow Saga fantastically witty and well-written, it also explores the aftermath of war and the best path to peace. It’s described as Pokemon meets Avatar: the Last Airbender, and honestly, I can’t think of a better way to succinctly capture its essence. Fans of Avatar will recognize the masterfully executed redemption arc of Zuko, the righteous fury of Katara, and the nonchalant sarcasm with underlying hard truths delivere by Sokka and Toph, all combined with the journey to forgiveness that Aang so strongly believes in. Steel Crow Saga is amazing in that it manages to be funny without pulling the punches of actual history. In between jokes and anime references, Steel Crow Saga criticizes imperialism, colonization, neglectful governments and so much more. It explores what happens when the pursuit of justice goes too far and how national propaganda can make people believe they are justified in doing the wrong thing for the right reason. Steel Crow Saga is without a doubt the one book I will be recommending to anyone who even looks in my direction.
Picking just four books almost destroyed me so if this is allowed honorable mentions as always to The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, Descendant of the Crane by Joan He, Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. There are an infinite amount of beautiful, diverse stories that have been told, and that will continue to be told, and I’m looking forward to reading as many as possible.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
Lauren is currently finishing up her undergraduate degree with a major in English Literature and a minor in Political Science. Aside from uplifting and supporting marginalized creators, she is passionate about dogs, dumplings, and coffee. In her spare time, Lauren can be found taking a nap, filling out her bullet journal, or watching a rom-com on Netflix. You can also find her Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.
ABOUT THE BLOG
Love Yo Shelf was sparked by a random text Lauren sent to her co-blogger Orianna after one of their usual, all-caps conversations about the books they were reading, which is how most of their great ideas are born. Love Yo Shelf is about loving the books you read because you connect with them and they make you feel seen, and ultimately we want that experience to help you love yourself as well.
Have you read any of these books?
Which diverse books do you want to recommend? Tell me about it!