Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America
Edited by Ibi Zoboi
Young Adult/Anthology/Contemporary Fiction
Published January 2019
I’m not sure how to write this review or even if I SHOULD be writing this review. Black Enough is an anthology of stories about being young and black in America. (As the subtitle says.) I’m white. I don’t identify with these stories, but I wanted to read it to be exposed to other experiences. That’s WHY I try to read a lot of minority voices.
The problem is – I didn’t care for a decent portion of the book. But should that matter in writing a review of an #ownvoices book when I’m not part of the demographic? There are two authors I have previous problems with – Justina Ireland (author of Dread Nation, read my review for my issues with her) and Nic Stone, who wrote Odd One Out which I HAAAATED. Their short stories here had none of the issues their respective books did, but I tend not to separate art from artist, so I’m still side-eyeing their inclusion in this anthology. I also strongly disliked the editor’s own story, the last one in the book. But should that matter? There were stories I loved – Jay Coles’ Wild Horses, Wild Hearts, Lamar Giles’ Black. Nerd. Problems. and Leah Henderson’s Warning: Color May Fade were all amazing. But again, how much does that matter? I can’t speak for how real these stories are, or how well the authors capture these feelings because I don’t know. (Which is part of WHY I read these. To learn.)
I toyed with the idea of just not writing a review. But books like these are important, and need to be talked about and lifted up so more people can find them. Being one more white person refusing to talk about the subject ALSO isn’t the right call.
What I finally decided I can do is link to some #ownvoices reviews of the book. Don’t take my opinion on this book. Take theirs! (And, spoiler, they all loved it!)
Black Nerd Problems’ review (and I’m totally following this site now)
Crafty Scribbles’ review (okay, so I’m following all three of these sites now, and you should too!)
From the cover of Black Enough:
BLACK IS . . . sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renee Watson.
BLACK IS . . . three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.
BLACK IS . . . Nic Stone’s bougie debutante dating a boy her momma would never approve of.
BLACK IS . . . two girls kissing, in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.
BLACK IS . . . urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more – because there are countless ways to be Black enough.
Great discussion! I always feel bad when I write a negative review of a book I picked up because it was by an author who is part of a historically marginalized group, but I do write them anyway. I agree that it’s good just to be talking about these books and I know sometimes people pick up books I review because they like the exact same things that bother me! I also really like your idea of linking to some #ownvoices reviews to help balance your perspective and I may do the same going forward.