A collage of the covers included in this article

Make room, readers, your 2021 TBR is about to be stacked! In honor of Black History Month, we’re taking a look at some of the must-read YA books being published by Black authors this year. We’re highlighting 20 books here, but it’s just a small sampling of the great books by Black authors hitting shelves in 2021. With this list as your guide, you’re certain to have an incredible TBR list for this month and every one to follow.

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson

Nala Robertson so badly wants for Tye Brown to like her that she exaggerates their shared interests to snag his attention. Unfortunately, it isn’t long before her tiny fibs start to catch up with her in a big way.

Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney, illustrated by Robyn Smith

Every time Nubia tries to be a hero, she’s reminded that society doesn’t see her as one. But when her friend is in trouble, she’s willing to risk everything to be the kind of superhero no one seems to believe she can be. Comic fans will not want to miss this one!

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Aspiring romance novelist Tessa Johnson is thrilled to be accepted into a creative writing program at a respected art school. But when writer’s block strikes, her best friend convinces her to find some real life inspiration.

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

This book is an Ethiopian-inspired fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre—do you really need to hear more than that? Though it won’t be published until November, this debut novel is at the top of our reading list for 2021.

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

Leah Johnson’s debut, You Should See Me in a Crown, was one of our favorite books of 2020, so we are counting down the days until her second book hits shelves. This one finds two girls at a music festival that will change their lives forever.

(Me) Moth by Amber McBride

Amber McBride’s novel-in-verse explores loss and finding yourself through the lens of Moth, who lost her family in an accident, and Sani, a boy battling depression and trying to find his roots.

Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson

One of our must-read YA LGBTQ+ book picks, Kosoko Jackson’s sophomore novel features a teenager whose liver transplant gives him the ability to travel through time—and soon he’s bouncing between the present and 1969.

The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson

Fans of rom-coms and the fake relationship trope won’t want to miss this YA romance. Mia needs a date for her sister’s wedding and her friends have the perfect idea: use their favorite romantic movies to help Mia create the ideal meet-cute.

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Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

Two young witches team up in this YA fantasy debut. Long-imprisoned Iraya is out for revenge, while Jazmyne witnessed her sister being sacrificed to give her mother, the queen, more power—and she’s determined that she won’t be next.

The Marvelous by Claire Kann

Jewel Van Hanen invites users of her popular app, Golden Rule, to her private estate and surprises them with a series of challenges to see who has it in them to take down the competition.

A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

Bethany C. Morrow’s latest is a companion novel to A Song Below Water, following teen influencer Naema Bradshaw. Cast as the villain in Tavia’s story, Naema must work hard to ensure she doesn’t lose everything she’s worked so hard to build.

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

Trans teenager Spencer Harris is passing at his new school, but when a transphobic law benches him for the soccer season based on his birth certificate, he has to make a choice between sitting it out or standing up for his right to play.

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Bri’s always had a gift for growing plants, but she learns how powerful she truly is when she moves to the estate she inherited from her late aunt and must protect her family from a centuries-old curse.

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles

Gio’s life turns upside down when his absentee mother returns after abandoning him and his brother and father eight years earlier. She’s asking for forgiveness, but Gio’s struggling to decide how he wants their relationship to move forward.

Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield

Tilla’s relationship with her father has never been easy, and she’s reluctant to spend the summer with him in Jamaica. But she finds she is curious about the island itself, and during her days there learns more about her family and herself.

Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne

Skyy and her best friend have a falling out after Lay Li’s boyfriend insults Skyy in this novel-in-verse. Suddenly on her own, Skyy navigates the hurdles of growing apart from a friend and coming into her own sense of self-worth.

The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Charlotte Nicole Davis continues her western fantasy series with a second action-packed installment, which finds the Good Luck Girls teaming up with a group of rebellious fighters to free all dustbloods.

One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

In this new novel from the writing duo behind Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, Happi is mourning the death of her activist sister Kezi, while chafing against the idea others seem to have that Kezi is worth grieving for because she was “one of the good ones.”

Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

This debut novel transports readers to Jamaica where Frankie Green is at a crossroads. Frankie’s elated to receive a scholarship to his dream school in the US, but all of his plans change when his father is shot and hospitalized.

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

This anthology features six connected stories from some of the most beloved YA authors writing today. Set in New York City during a heatwave-induced blackout, each tale follows a couple through major changes as the night goes on.

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

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