Written by Erinn Feltes
Catherine Adel West, SAVING RUBY KING
Okay, fine, she's own author! But, believe me this book will knock your socks off.
An exciting new voice in fiction, Catherine Adel West explores the history and hidden secrets of two families and a young woman’s journey to protect her best friend. Set in the South Side of Chicago after a young girl’s mother is found murdered, this story is an epic and emotional tale of race, family secrets, faith, and redemption.
Ryan Douglass, JAKE IN THE BOX
Ryan Douglass’ psychological suspense filled debut combines elements of horror with an exploration of identity to tell the story of Jake, one of the only black kids in his prep school, who’s haunted by the vengeful spirit that carried out a school shooting a year prior.
Lauren Ho, LAST TANG STANDING
Crazy Rich Asians meets Bridget Jones's Diary in Lauren Ho’s funny and heartfelt debut about a dutiful Chinese-Malaysian daughter searching for love and happiness in her thirties.
Tobly McSmith, STAY GOLD
This coming-of-age love story follows Pony, a transgender boy going stealth at his Texas high school as he’s drawn to cisgender cheerleader, Georgia. A proud transgender author, Tobly McSmith’s funny and poingnant debut inspired The Stay Gold Fund – a organization that helps provide financial support to transgender people for gender affirming surgeries.
Brandon Taylor, REAL LIFE
Brandon Taylor’s debut novel is the gripping and profound story of one pivotal weekend in the life of an introverted, black, and gay, biochemistry student. Taylor references elements of his own life as he examines the atmosphere of a Midwestern university teeming with racism and homophobia.
Erica Waters, GHOST WOOD SONG
Featuring a lush setting, eerie atmosphere, and a rich LGBTQ love story, this YA debut is a haunting, dark southern gothic story about a girl who inherits her father’s fiddle, and it’s ability to call ghosts from the grave.
Raven Leilani, LUSTER
Funny, passionate, and sharp, Leilani’s debut novel features a young black artist who becomes entangled in another couples open marriage as she tries to make sense of her own tumultuous life.
C Pam Zhang, HOW MUCH OF THESE HILLS IS GOLD
Set in the American gold rush, Zhang’s exhilarating debut revolves around the newly orphaned children of Chinese immigrants. After fleeing the threat of the western mining town that shunned their existence, these two siblings set out to find their identity and a new home.
Dennis E. Staples, THIS TOWN SLEEPS
Staples’ debut novel of community, spirituality, and identity, tells the story of an openly gay Ojibwe man who begins a secret, sexual relationship with a closeted white man. When he unknowingly wakes a revenant dog he sets off to investigate the death of the local Ojibwe basketball hero, uncovering the secrets of the town and his family along the way.
Lucas Rocha, WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
Set in Rio de Janeiro, this enthralling debut by Brazilian author Lucas Rocha is a portrait of friendship, love, and self-acceptance, as it weaves throughout the lives of three different boys and their experiences with HIV.
Aiden Thomas, CEMETERY BOYS
Aiden Thomas’ debut is a compelling queer, trans, latinx #ownvoices story about a teen boy who in an attempt to prove himself as a brujo to his family, accidentally summons the wrong ghost – only to end up falling in love with him.
Adiba Jaigirdar, THE HENNA WARS
Adiba Jaigirdar is a Bangladeshi/Irish writer and teacher whose debut centers around two teen girls with rival henna businesses: Nishat who doesn’t want to hide her identity from her unaccepting Muslim parents, and her charismatic, childhood friend, Flávia. As the competition intensifies, so does their relationship.
Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, SIA MARTINEZ & THE MOONLIT BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING
Blending elements of immigration, folklore, and science fiction, this genre-bending debut features a Mexican American teen girl who must rescue her mother who’s not been deported as previously thought, but abducted by aliens.
Celia Laskey, UNDER THE RAINBOW
In Celia Laskey’s wry and heartfelt debut, a group of queer social activists upend the lives of the small town voted “the most homophobic in the US” in an attempt to change the minds and hearts of its residents.
Paul Mendez, RAINBOW MILK
This stunning coming-of-age story revolves around the life of a young black man, who flees his upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness, moves to London, and turns to sex work in order to find his identity and a place among his family’s legacy.
Nita Tyndall, WHO I WAS WITH HER
Nita Tyndall paints a portrait of grief in this vivid and heartbreaking debut about a closeted teen girl who loses her secret girlfriend in a car accident and must mourn the loss of a relationship that no one even knew existed.
Frances Cha, IF I HAD YOUR FACE
This captivating debut explores the lives of four young woman – an artist, a newlywed, a K-pop fan, and a server at secret salons for wealthy men – as they struggle to be defined by the impossible beauty standards of contemporary Seoul, Korea.
Zaina Arafat, YOU EXIST TOO MUCH
Crossing between the U.S. and the Middle East, this story traces the life of a girl from her adolescence to her first serious girlfriend. An exploration of cultural, religious, and sexual identities, this debut is a riveting story of obsession and addiction to love.
Deepa Anappara, DJINN PATROL ON THE PURPLE LINE
Drawing on her career as a journalist and on a real string of disappearances, Deepa Anappara’s compelling debut tells the story of three children and their search for their missing classmate throughout their sprawling Indian city.
June Hur, THE SILENCE OF BONES
This haunting and bloody mystery centers around 16 year old Seol as she helps investigate the murder of a noblewoman in 1800s Korea. Inspired by her obsession with the Joseon Dynasty Era of Korea this historical murder mystery is June Hur’s debut novel.
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