BAYA Book Review

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America

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Zoboi, Ibi. (Ed.) Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2018. 416p. ISBN: 9780062698728. $17.99. AT *****

The book cover of Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America.
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America, GoodReads.com

This wonderful collection of short stories explores many facets of what it means to grow up black in the US. The stories are all realistic fiction about black young people, but that’s about all they have in common. They are set in different states, different settings, different family types and different eras. The protagonists have different skin tones, different interests, different fears, concerns, dreams, attitudes, and problems. One protagonist is just meeting her sister at summer camp. Another recounts in moment-by-moment detail her response to being groped on a dance floor. A third makes a connection with ancestors through time. Romances, social unrest, artistic expression, friendship, family traditions are all here and so much more. Truly there is something for every teen reader in this collection. The only question is: which will be your favorite?

Some of the best, most popular contemporary authors have stories here, but there are also stories from lesser-known authors. The content in some of the stories candidly addresses racism and sexual assault, while others are low-key stories suitable for even younger readers. Somewhat remarkably, there wasn’t a dud in the whole collection. Admittedly, some were not exactly my taste, but that is a benefit of good short story collections: they lead readers to things they wouldn’t pick up on their own. Whether it is the cousins at a family reunion or the friends walking home from the pool, these characters and their situations will stay with readers long after the short stories are done. 

–Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library – Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch

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