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When I first saw the #OWNvoices hashtag, I didn’t actually know what it was, but that it was a good way to find diverse books. Well, that is right but now I actually know what it means.
An OWNvoices book is a book featuring a protagonist in a marginalized group that is the same as the author. An example would be a disabled main character written by a disabled person. Now these diverse books are easier than ever to find thanks to the hashtag.
These books aren’t just one genre, they vary from fantasy to contemporary so no matter what you already like, you can probably find something here that you would also enjoy.
It’s also the January theme for my book club! I made a few suggestions in that original post but wanted to make a bigger list for each month, too. So here are a ton of great options for January’s OWNvoices theme.
I’ve only read one of these so far, but there are quite a few that are on my TBR that I already have and am excited to read!
If you’re interested in trying Audible, you can get your first month free which includes a free audiobook! This is a great option if you want to listen to books more. If you’re on more of a budget, try Scribd! You can get your first month free there.
Yadriel’s family has a hard time accepting his true gender but is determined to prove himself as a true brujo with the help of his cousin Maritza. He sets out to summon and set free the ghost of his murdered cousin.
Instead he summons Julian Diaz, the school bad boy who isn’t going quietly into death and is determined to tie up loose ends.
Yadriel has no choice but to help Julian but the more time they spend together, the less he wants him to leave.
Emoni is a high school senior that has to take care of her daughter and her abuela. It must be done but the one place she can let go of her responsibilities is in the kitchen.
She knows she doesn’t have time for her school’s culinary arts class, much less for the class trip to Spain but once she starts cooking her only choice is to let her talent run free.
Camila Hassan is living a double life in Rosario, Argentina as a careful daughter under the rule of her short-tempered father and La Furia, a powerhouse on the soccer field.
Her team qualifies for the South American Tournament and this is her chance to see how far her talents can take her, but this path isn’t easy: her parents would never let her play futbol and she needs their permission to go farther.
As life becomes more complicated when the boy she once loved is back in town. she is forced to face her secrets and make her way in life with no place for the dreams of a girl like her.
Lena has killer style, an awesome boyfriend, and a plan to make it big. All Campbell wants to do is get through the year as the new kid.
Neither of them expected what would happen at the Friday night football game. Chaos from violence and hate throws them together. They aren’t friends and don’t understand each other, but that doesn’t matter when they only have each other to rely on when the city is up in flames.
Here’s another one I added to my TBR and really look forward to reading.
Zélie Adebola remembers when Orïsha hummed with magic but that ended when maji were killed under the orders of a ruthless king. It left her without a mother and her people without hope.
Now she has a chance to strike back and bring magic back. With the help of a rogue princess, she has to outwit the crown prince who is set on ending magic forever.
Danger lurks everywhere but the greatest danger may be herself as her powers and feeling for an enemy grow.
Liz has always thought she was too Black, too poor, and too awkward to shine in Campbell, Indiana. But she has a plan to get out forever: to get into the elite Pennington College, become a doctor, and play in their world-famous orchestra.
Her plans come crashing down when financial aid she was counting on falls through. Until she remembers the scholarships for prom king and queen. She doesn’t want to get caught up in the catty world of social media, but will do whatever it takes to get into Pennington.
Felix Love has never been in love and wants to know why it’s so easy for everyone else. He also worries he’ll never find it because he might be one marginalization too many – Black, queer, and transgender.
Anonymous students start sending him transphobic messages, sharing his deadname and pictures from before he transitioned. In his revenge plan, his catfish scenarios lands him in a quasi love triangle.
The most important lesson he learns on a journey of questioning is of self-discovery and how to love himself.
Ben comes out to their parents as nonbinary only to be thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, that they’ve never even met. Anxiety is only compounded by their rejection while trying to keep a low profile at school.
Nathan Allan, a charismatic student, thwarts Ben’s attempt to remain unnoticed as Nathan takes them under his wing. Their friendship and feelings grow and change with the start of a happier life in the horizon.
Jase doesn’t remember having Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia when he was three. He only thinks of it at his yearly oncology check up and at Camp Chemo over the summer.
Mari will never be able to hide her cancer survivorship. She starts every day by grabbing her pink forearm clip crutches. She loves Camp Chemo because she never has to explain what happened to anyone. And she’s got a crush on fellow camper, Jase.
He wants to move on and never reveal his past but when Mari transfers to his school, that may change. He can’t deny his attraction to her, though.
The comet is scheduled to hit January 29, 2035 and Denis, her mother, and sister, Iris are assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam, but Iris is nowhere to be found and at the rate their drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never make it in time.
A last-minute encounter gives them an even better opportunity: a ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new planets but everyone must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and worried she won’t be able to stay.
Young and in love, Ifemelu and Obinze leave military-controlled Nigeria for the west.
Ifemelu heads to America and while she is successful in school, she grapples with what it means to be Black for the first time.
Obinze planned to join her, but post-9/11 America is closed to him so he heads to London where he lives a dangerous, undocumented life.
Fifteen years later they are reunited in the newly democratic Nigeria where they rekindle their love for each other and their home country.
In eighteenth-century Ghana, Effia and Esi are born in two different villages.
Effia is married off to an Englishman where she lives comfortably in the Cape Coast Castle.
Esi, her sister, is unknowingly imprisoned in the dungeons beneath her. She is to be shipped off to America in the slave trade where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery.
We follow Effia though the warfare in Ghana and Esi and her children to America all the way up to present day.
It’s the most honoring and most demeaning position: serving the king as a Paper Girl. Eight are chosen every year, but this year a ninth girl is chosen, a fire girl.
Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest caste in Ikhara, living with her father in a remote village. She is haunted by the trauma of seeing her mother take by the royal guards for an unknown fate. Now they’re back and it’s Lei they want.
She learns skills and charm over the weeks of palace training before doing the unthinkable: falling in love.
Noemí Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin saying she needs to be saved from a mysterious doom in High Place, a house in the distant Mexican countryside. She knows little about her cousins husband or the region and is an unlikely rescuer, preferring chick gowns and red lipstick of amateur sleuthing. She’s also tough and not afraid.
Her only ally in the inhospitable abode is the shy youngest son who wants to help her but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. As Noemí digs deeper into the past, she unearths stories of violence and madness. This is another one I’m super excited for!
Fabiola Toussaint finally thought she’d have the good life on the corner of American Street and Joy Road.
When they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, though, her mother is detained and Fabiola is left to navigate her loud American cousins the Detroit’s west side all on her own.
Just as she thinks she found her footing, a dangerous proposition presents itself and she realizes freedom comes at a cost.
Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to get rid of her royal responsibilities, but she is thrust into power of an unstable kingdom when her father is murdered.
She is determined to find her father’s killer and gets help from a soothsayer. This is punishable by death because magic was outlawed in Yan centuries ago.
Ever Wong’s parents send her to Taiwan from Ohio to study Mandarin for the summer where she finds herself among over-achieving students.
Little do her parents know they basically sent her to a teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat where clubbing and snake blood sake is higher priority than calligraphy and sacred sights.
I’m super excited for this one because it sounds fun and I just love Taiwan.
Rukhsana Ali is seventeen and finds is harder and harder to live up to her conservative Muslim parent’s expectations but only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life and her new life at Caltech where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.
Her plans fall apart when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend, Araiana, though. They’re devastated because being gay is basically a death sentence in the Bengali community. They ship her off to Bangladesh, a world of tradition and arranged marriages and she gains much needed perspective after reading her grandmothers diary. She gains courage to fight for her love but has to do so without losing everyone in her life.
Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with family memories or her childhood home after her mother dies in an accident when Bree is sixteen.
The prefect chance for escape comes as a residential program for high schoolers at UNC Chapel Hill but she sees a magical attack on campus her first night there and that all changes.
A mysterious teenage mage called Merlin tries, and fails, to wipe her memory of the flying demon feeding on human energies and secret society of “Legendborn” students that hunt these creatures down.
His failure unlocks her own magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: Merlin was at the hospital the night her mother died. Now she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth.
Cal is used to sharing his life online with over half a million followers on social media but when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, they relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.
Here he meets Leon, another Astrokid, and falls head over heels for him fast. As the mission frenzy grows, so do their feelings. Cal has to find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people that have become the most important to him when secrets about the program are uncovered.
A blood feud is leaving Shanghai in the grip of chaos in 1926. Juliette Cai is a former flapper assuming her role as heir of the Scarlet Gang. The White Flowers are their only rival in power and they’ve fought for generations. Behind every move is Roma Montagov, her first love and first betrayal.
Instability starts to rear it’s head on both sides forcing Roma and Juliette to work together, setting their guns and grudges aside.
Amal’s Pakistani village is quite, which she has no problem with because she’s busy following her dream of becoming a teacher, but this dream is dashed as she’s forced to stay home and take take of her siblings as the eldest daughter.
She doesn’t let this stop her and finds new ways to learn, but after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord she finds herself working as their servant to pay off her family’s debt.
Soon she makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila and learns of the Khan’s nefarious dealings. She realizes she has to find a way to work with others if they ever want to make change in the status quo.
Manu is on the run from her father’s Argentine crime family and confined to a small apartment in Miami.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, her mother is arrested by ICE, and and her protective bubble is shattered.
She has no home, no answers, and no shackles so she begins to investigate the only clue she has about her past – a mysterious Z emblem – which just leads her to a secret world connected to her dead father and his criminal past.
As she uncovers her story and heritage, she finds out it’s not just her residency that’s illegal, but her entire existence.
Quadir and Jarrell can’t just let their friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten after he’s killed so they come up with a plan with his younger sister Jasmine.
They start promoting the music under the name The Architect and before they know it, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to it. Then it catches the ear of a music rep and they have to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave with just hours on the clock.
They have to confront the truth about what happened to Steph and the secrets about it that each of them hold. They have to decide what they stand for before they lose everything, including each other.
A young royal is sent from the far north to thee south for a political marriage. She is alone and sometimes reviled with only the servants on her side.
This is actually a novella and one I think I’ll be reading! I also just really love the cover.
This is actually a collection of stories about friendship, mothers, daughters, and deep rooted truths of our homelands. It’s centered on Latinas of indigenous ancestry, shining a new light on the American West.
Omar and his younger brother Hassan have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Omar has the opportunity to go to school in the camp and it could change their lives, but it also means leaving Hassan every day.
This takes us into life in a refugee camp and is a true story. We see the hardships and heartbreak of day-to-day life as a refugee in a camp.
This is a near future dystopian set in the US and pretty high up on my TBR.
Layla and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. Now she’s fighting for freedom with the help of new friends in the camp and her boyfriend outside of it. They’re leading the revolution in the camp against the director and his guards.
Here’s another one I’m very excited to read! Wee’ve got another near-future dystopian (set in 2032) where all citizens are chipped and tracked. It’s almost impossible to survive as an undocumented immigrant, but Vali and her family are doing it.
It’s all going well until her mother’s counterfeit chip malfunctions and they’re forced to flee to California, a sanctuary state walled off from the rest of the country, when Deportation Forces raid their town.
Tigers, Not Daughters
The Torres sisters dream of escape from not only their needy widowed father but their San Antonio neighborhood and all the old traditions that go along with it.
Ana, the oldest sister, falls to death from her bedroom window and a year later her three younger sisters are haunted by grief and Ana’s memory.
Their dream of leaving is halted and strange things start happening around the house. They wonder if Ana is really haunting them and what she’s trying to say.
A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen and finds his wings as The Black Flaming, a drag artist at university.
It’ about embracing change and your uniqueness. This is another one I’m really excited to read!
Have you read any of these OWNvoices novels? Which ones? Any others you would recommend?