Black Crime Novels and Mysteries.
While reading books about victims, sleuths or criminals can be sensational, it can also activate critical thinking and problem solving muscles in ways other books can’t. The can question our morality and ethics, uncover issues of justice and privilege and even critique those in power. The following add diversity to young people’s reading selections.
Grand Theft Horse by Greg Neri and Corban Wilkin. Lee & Low. A graphic novel based on Greg’s cousin who, apparently is a horse thief in Texas. I’ve just started reading.
So on Christmas Eve, Gail rescued her own horse. A modern-day outlaw, Gail evaded private investigators and refused to give the horse up. Blacklisted by the racing world, she learned the law at night to take on a powerful L.A. attorney determined to crush her in court. As she stood up for the humane treatment of racehorses, she also faced down the system that caused their demise.
Fake ID by Lamar Giles. Amistad. Nick Pearson is trying not to be a criminal, not to get caught up the mess his father creates and its seems the government is trying to help him. Or, are they?
Nick Pearson is hiding in plain sight. In fact, his name isn’t really Nick Pearson. He shouldn’t tell you his real name, his real hometown, or why his family just moved to Stepton, Virginia. And he definitely shouldn’t tell you about his friend Eli Cruz and the major conspiracy Eli was uncovering when he died. About how Nick had to choose between solving Eli’s murder with his hot sister, Reya, and “staying low-key” like the Program said to do.
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. Katherine Tegen Books.
Have you seen the numbers on missing Black and Brown girls? This novel is as timely as it is intriguing. I haven’t finished reading this one yet; the mystery for me is where in the world did I put my book?
As Claudia digs into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?
Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid. Tu Books. Like Nick in Fake ID, Andrea Faraday is also caught in her parents criminal behavior. Here, as she discovers her own privilege (and the cost of criminal behavior) she begins to question her own future.
If she were telling it straight, friendship might not be the right word to describe their alliance, since Drea and her new associates could not be more different. She s rich and privileged; they re broke and, well, criminal. But Drea s got a secret: she has more in common with the juvie kids than they d ever suspect. When it turns out they share a common enemy, Drea suggests they join forces to set things right. Sometimes, to save the day, a good girl s gotta be bad.”
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Arthur A. Levine Books. This multi-award winning middle grade novel is an excellent junior sleuth novel!
When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle.
The Usual Suspects by Maurice Broaddus. Katherine Tegen Books. I’ve just begun reading this one, so expect a full review soon.
When a gun is found at a neighborhood hangout, Thelonius and his pals become instant suspects. Thelonius may be guilty of pulling crazy stunts at school, but a criminal? T isn’t about to let that label stick.
It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Adapted for Young Readers) by Trevor Noah. Delacorte. I haven’t read this one yet (it releases in April) but, let’s consider a country where a being half black and half white means that one is born a crime. Is the child the crime?
This compelling memoir blends drama, comedy, and tragedy to depict the day-to-day trials that turned a boy into a young man. In a country where racism barred blacks from social, educational, and economic opportunity, Trevor surmounted staggering obstacles and created a promising future for himself, thanks to his mom’s unwavering love and indomitable will.