1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Americanah is the narrative of a Nigerian-born Igbo transplant in America. Ifemulu tells her story of adjusting to American lifestyle in university by highlighting and embracing the differences of the motherland and the "land of opportunity". The book tackles serious issues: death, love, fear, depression, suicide, and infidelity; yet Adichie broaches them effortlessly with a realistic and delightfully humorous approach. Although the book boasts a hefty 496 pages, you do not want to miss what happens with each of the instrumental and dynamic characters.
2. The Mothers by Brit Bennet. The Mothers tells the story of a small, tight-knit community harboring a number of big secrets. This book captures the reader instantly with precise and evocative language: "All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season." And now we're hooked, the book details the lives of Nadia, Aubrey, and Luke as they move from high school through adulthood and untangles the intricate and complicated web of secrets that lie deep in the fabric of the community.
3. The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward. This eye-opening and candid account of race in a "post-racial" America draws inspiration from James Baldwin's iconic work, The Fire Next Time. The Fire This Time is a collection of essays and poems meticulously divided into three parts that interrogate the bleak reflection of our past, the struggle with our current plight, and the flickering light of a brighter future.
4. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison. This heart-breaking novel tells the story of the lasting effects of a mother's rejection of her dark-skinned child. The story is narrated by a young woman, ironically called Bride, whose blue-black skin is the source of her stunning beauty, unwavering confidence, and abundant success but also the reason of her mother's neglect and abandonment.
5. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. This coming-of age autobiography by The Daily Show's Trevor Noah comically recounts his life as a biracial boy growing up in apartheid South Africa. Noah, who is the product of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, spent most of his early childhood hiding from the oppressive South African government. As the white imperious rule comes to a close, Noah finds himself as a young man living in a society where he docent exactly fit. The novel serves not only to illuminate the memories of his past but also the beautiful love story between a son and his mother.