Like many other Americans this week, I’m locked away at home practicing social distancing. It has been difficult to find ways to make myself feel busy and purposeful, particularly with the news that my school will not be returning for the rest of the semester. Nevertheless, I have reminded myself to remain optimistic, as the situation provides a time for personal reflection and growth as well. Being able to “social distance” is a privilege in itself. The isolation is ultimately what brought me to start this blog when I was in search of a creative outlet.
Other than blogging, I’ve tried to get back into reading as well. I remember when I was in seventh grade, I could finish a full book in less than 24 hours. The increased workload in high school made it so that it takes me weeks to finish one book if I even bother to read one at all. So, while we all have this excess of time, I decided to craft my ultimate quarantine reading list for a black girl, filled with stories of amazing black female heroines capable of letting you escape from the outside world, if only for a few hours.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone is the first novel in the Legacy of Orïsha series, and the sequel (Children of Virtue and Vengeance) was released in December 2019. The story follows Zèlie, a maji living in a world where magic was stolen away by a tyrannical king. Zèlie’s people are oppressed in her society, and when she finds an opportunity to bring magic back to the land of Orïsha, she sets out to revolt against the oppressive monarchy and frees her people. When I read this book for the first time in March 2018, it was instantly one of my favorites. Despite being fantasy, it alludes to many systems of racial inequity I see in real life, making it an impactful read.
Winter by Marissa Meyer
Winter is the final book in the Lunar Chronicles series, a series I highly recommend. Each book is based on a classic fairytale and retold to fit into a futuristic world that includes earthen humans, cyborgs, a race of people living on the moon, and android robots. The titular character, Winter, is based on the tale of Snow White, and all the characters of the past books team up to defeat the evil Lunar queen who aims to take control of Earth’s people. I reread it during this quarantine, and it remains one of my favorite books years after I read it the first time.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My Sister, the Serial Killer is the perfect book to read if you’re looking to lose yourself in a novel for only a couple hours. At under 300 pages, it’s short, but exciting nonetheless. It tells the story of Korede, a nurse harboring a dark secret: her beautiful sister, Ayoola, is a serial killer. Ayoola has killed her last three boyfriends, and Korede has always been there to help her get away with it. When Ayoola sets her sights on the handsome doctor Korede had been crushing on, Korede must fight to stop her sister before the doctor ends up like Ayoola’s other romances- dead.
My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
M y Soul to Keep has elements of mystery, horror, and paranormal genres. Dawit is an immortal who has been living for over 400 years, a result of a ritual done alongside many others, all who have been sworn to secrecy. This immortality caused him to travel around for many years, knowing that whatever family he created he would eventually have to abandon. Yet, when he falls in love with Jessica, he just can’t seem to leave her behind. Jessica knows him as David and believes he is the perfect husband: caring, attractive, and intelligent. When the other immortals command David to leave his wife and child behind, he decides to attempt the dangerous ritual that made him immortal all those centuries ago on his wife and children, all while Jessica searches to find the truth about her mysterious husband. This book was actually recommended to me by my father, and though I don’t think I would have picked it up on my own, it was a thrilling read.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
A light realistic fiction read, With the Fire on High is about an Afro-Latinx teen mom and high school senior, Emoni Santiago, who has a passion for food. While she struggles to take care of her young daughter and support her Abuelita, the kitchen is the one place where she feels truly in control. When her school introduces a new culinary class, she jumps at the chance to take both the class and fundraise for the trip to Spain. A new boy in school only complicates Emoni’s life further, causing her to learn to balance her responsibilities in new ways.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Set in 1990s Nigeria, Purple Hibiscus follows 15-year-old Kambili, who lives a seemingly privileged life. However, inside the walls of her beautiful home, her father is abusive, controlling every aspect of his wife and children’s lives. When Kambili and her older brother Jaja get the chance to stay with their free-spoken aunt, they leave home for the first time. There, the siblings discover aspects of life they had been shielded from their whole lives, including what it’s like to have freedom. I initially read this book for school, and it remains the best book I’ve read in a class thus far.