Arts & Culture #OwnVoices Stories from Top YA Authors Teens are some of society’s earliest change adopters, and today’s world is full of budding young activists. But it’s critical for these same teens to see themselves reflected in the genre that is based on their experiences. Thankfully, YA fiction is rife with powerful stories from contemporary, black women writers. They have created some of the most enduring and popular fiction of the last several years, while showcasing the many subgenres of YA: contemporary, fantasy, romance, LGBTQIA+, and more. And each of these writers takes it one step further in their #ownvoices work, by poignantly highlighting social and racial injustices for their listeners. By Staff The Hate U Give stop Principles By Angie Thomas Narrated by Bahni Turpin 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. The Hate U Give is, in a word, transformative. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this searing debut from Angie Thomas will floor you with its elegant and deliberate prose. Starr Carter is driving home from a party with her best friend Khalil when they are pulled over by a cop, who ends up fatally shooting Khalil. Khalil was unarmed. Thomas fearlessly handles the narrative that follows with a grace and poignancy that will have you marveling at her talent. Narrator Bahni Turpin gives voice to such a broad and rich cast of characters, each with their own authentic perspective, demonstrating the power of performance to bring new depth to a complex social issue. This is the very definition of required listening—and one of our favorite audiobooks of the last decade. American Street stop Principles By Ibi Zoboi Narrated by Robin Miles 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Ibi Zoboi’s powerful debut novel explores the realities of immigration and the halted expectations of ''the American Dream.'' Fabiola Toussaint is immigrating from Haiti to the U.S. with her mother, but her mother gets detained by U.S. immigration, forcing Fabiola to adapt to this new world—a new city, a new school, a new family—on her own and without her support system. Performer Robin Miles is a chameleon, delivering a nuanced performance that beautifully conveys accents, dialects, and the emotional decisions each character must make. You Should See Me in a Crown stop Principles By Leah Johnson Narrated by Alaska Jackson 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Debut author Leah Johnson delivers an f/f romcom that will make your heart soar. When Liz Lighty doesn’t get the scholarship to college that she was expecting, she decides to run for Prom Queen—which comes with the promise of a generous scholarship for the one who wears the crown. But this story is so much more than your traditional #promromcom. Johnson explores through Liz what it means to be black, queer, and poor in a small midwestern town, all while falling for the new girl at school. Performed by debut narrator Alaska Jackson, You Should See Me in a Crown glitters with its individuality. Children of Blood and Bone stop Principles By Tomi Adeyemi Narrated by Bahni Turpin 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Building on a uniquely West African mythology, Tomi Adeyemi’s debut conjures up a vibrant, amazing fantasy world in which magic once thrived, a segment of the population is grievously oppressed, and a young woman becomes the leader she was meant to be. Bahni Turpin’s mastery of the accents expertly brings the wide array of characters to life, carrying you with the young rebel and her crew across the physical and emotional landscapes that make this listen so special. Slay stop Principles By Brittney Morris Narrated by Kiersey Clemons, Michael Boatman, Alexandra Grey, Dominic Hoffman, Sisi Aisha Johnson 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Billed as Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give, Slay by Brittney Morris delivers on that promise and then some. 17-year-old Kiera Johnson is a gamer and game developer—but no one in her life knows that she’s the creator behind the wildly popular online game Slay*. But then a teen is murdered over something that happened in the world of *Slay, and Kiera’s universe comes crashing down. Performed by Kiersey Clemons with a full cast, Slay tackles several issues while also elevating a brilliant black teenager with a mind for STEM. The Sun Is Also a Star stop Principles By Nicola Yoon Narrated by Bahni Turpin, Raymond Lee, Dominic Hoffman 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Nicola Yoon creates compelling, honest, and memorable characters in her fiction. The Sun Is Also a Star, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, is told from the alternating perspectives of two teenagers–one a Korean American boy who is on the ''doctor tract'' despite his proclivity for poetry; the other, a Jamaican girl who is desperately trying to save her family from their imminent deportation. Over a single day we watch how fate weaves its way into their relationship and their futures–together and apart. Bahni Turpin and Raymond Lee deliver beautiful performances, inhabiting the main characters in such a way that makes Yoon’s work essential listening. Dear Martin stop Principles By Nic Stone Narrated by Dion Graham 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Nic Stone’s debut novel grips you right from the start. Despite being at the top of his class, Justyce McAllister doesn’t feel like he fits in at his predominantly white high school. Without giving too much away, Justyce experiences run-ins with law enforcement, and taking in the injustice he sees in his life and in the news, he begins to write to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the hopes that the one-sided letters will help him both process his feelings and decide if, and in what form, to take action. Justyce’s letters and his internal monologues show remarkable vulnerability that is beautifully captured in Dion Graham’s performance. A Song Below Water stop Principles By Bethany C. Morrow Narrated by Andrea Lang, Jennifer Haralson 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. First, let’s just have a moment of appreciation for this cover. Okay, ready? Bethany C. Morrow intricately weaves together a contemporary fantasy that explores a world of sirens and magic against a backdrop of gender and racial discrimination. In A Song Below Water high school juniors Tavia and Effie—performed by Andrea Lang and Jennifer Haralson—show us both the power of sisterhood and the power of finding and using one’s voice. The Poet X stop Principles By Elizabeth Acevedo Narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. The lyrical way that Elizabeth Acevedo writes and performs her own work—you can just feel it, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. The Poet X, winner of the National Book Award and other accolades, is a novel-in-verse about Xiomara Batista, a high schooler who uses slam poetry as an outlet to vent her feelings and frustrations about her family, religion, her sexuality, and more. This is a story meant to be heard. The Voting Booth stop Principles By Brandy Colbert Narrated by Brandy Colbert 00:00 05:00 Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. We can’t wait for Brandy Colbert’s latest YA novel, coming out in July. In this presidential election year, YA authors have created a trend in the genre with their political and activist based romances. Colbert adds to and expands on this trend by tackling the critical issue of voter suppression in The Voting Booth. When Duke gets turned away at the polls, Marva makes it her mission to have his vote and his voice count. Tags YA/Teens Recommended The Best Black Audiobook Narrators to Listen To Right Now Escape From Our Echo Chambers Starts With Listening Greatness Claire Adam's Debut Novel 'Golden Child' Shows That No Person Is An Island, Even When Living On One 7 Ways You Can Enjoy The Baby-Sitters Club Up Next The History of Institutional Oppression While the stark facts can be brutal, these listens about economic and racial injustice often combine passionate storytelling with stellar performances.