Multicultural Experience: Books for Teens

African American fiction East Indian American fiction
African American nonfiction Hispanic American fiction
Asian American fiction Native American fiction
Asian American nonfiction Short story collections

African American Fiction

Anderson, M.T. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, v. 1: The Pox Party. 2006.
Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain. 1953.
Fourteen-year-old John, hated by his father and faced with the problems of growing up, is dramatically converted in a holiness church.
Barnes, Derrick. The Making of Dr. Truelove. 2006.
Sixteen-year-old Diego will do anything to get his girlfriend Roxy back.
Barrett, William E. Lilies of the Field. 1962.
Two unlikely friends, a black ex-GI and the head of a group of German nuns, have an impossible dream-- to build a chapel in the desert.
Brown, Linda Beatrice. Black Angels. 2009.
Three Southern children, two black and one white, escape from their homes during the horrors of the Civil War and, after meeting in the woods, gradually come to rely on each other as they make their way slowly north, enduring hunger, fear, sickness, and constant danger, before arriving in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.
Buckhanon, Kalisha. Upstate. 2005.
Seventeen-year-old Antonio and his 16-year-old girlfriend Natashsa have their world turned upside down when Antonio finds himself in jail, accused of a shocking crime. This powerful story is told through letters.
Butler, Octavia. Kindred. 1979.
Dana travels through time and space to rescue the white ancestor who held her family in slavery.
Diepen, Allison van. Street Pharm. 2006.
While his father is in prison, 17-year-old Ty Johnson is taking care of the family business— drug dealing.
Draper, Sharon. Copper Sun. 2006.
Fifteen-year-old Amari is branded, beaten, dragged on to a slave ship, and forced to endure humiliations– including being sold to a plantation owner in the Carolinas who gives her to his 15-year-old son as his birthday present.
Farmer, Nancy. The Ear, the Eye, the Arm. 1994.
In 2194 in Zimbabwe, General Matsika's three children are kidnapped and put to work in a plastic mine, while three mutant detectives use their special powers to search for them.
Johnson, Angela. The First Part Last. 2003.
Nia is pregnant and 16-year-old Bobby is the father. Their lives are about to be changed forever.
Jordan, Dream. Hot Girl. 2008.
Fourteen-year-old Kate, a former gang member, risks losing her first good foster home when her friend Naleejah leads her down a treacherous path.
Kincaid, Jamaica. Annie John. 1985.
The Caribbean island of Antigua is the setting for the struggle between Annie John and her strong-willed mother.
McDonald, Janet. Off-Color. 2007.
Fifteen-year-old Cameron living with her single mother in Brooklyn finds her search for identity further challenged when she discovers that she is the product of a biracial relationship.
Myers, Walter Dean. All the Right Stuff. 2012.
The summer after his absentee father is killed in a random shooting, Paul volunteers at a Harlem soup kitchen where he listens to lessons about "the social contract" from an elderly African American man, and mentors a seventeen-year-old unwed mother who wants to make it to college on a basketball scholarship.
Myers, Walter Dean. Street Love. 2006.
Damien is a straight straight-A student headed for Brown University when he falls in love with Junice, a girl whose mother has just been incarcerated for selling drugs. Will his direction now change?
Quick, Matthew. Boy21. 2006.
Finley, an unnaturally quiet boy who is the only white player on his high school's varsity basketball team, lives in a dismal Pennsylvania town that is ruled by the Irish mob, and when his coach asks him to mentor a troubled African American student who has transferred there from an elite private school in California, he finds that they have a lot in common in spite of their apparent differences.
Volponi, Paul. Black and White. 2007.
Two friends, one black and one white, are willing to risk everything, including basketball scholarships for more spending money.
Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. 2002.
Cecily, a poor, barely literate Southern black woman, struggles to escape the brutality and degradation of her treatment by men.
Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac and D Foster. 2008.
In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur's music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.

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African American Nonfiction

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. 1969.
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Despite its segregation, Stamps, Arkansas becomes a refuge for a southern black girl who was raped at the age of 8.
Hoose, Phillip M. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. 2009.
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Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.
Miller, Joe. Cross-X. 2001.
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Follows the Kansas City Central High School's debate squad through its 2002 season, which ended with a top-ten finish at the national championships, in this story of four debaters and their coach at an inner-city school.
Myers, Walter Dean. Bad Boy: A Memoir. 2001.
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The popular young adult author gives a fascinating account of his oft-troubled childhood, from gang warfare and racism to the dark secret his father kept for years.
Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. 2010.
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Documents the story of how scientists took cells from an unsuspecting descendant of freed slaves and created a human cell line that has been kept alive indefinitely, enabling discoveries in such areas as cancer research, in vitro fertilization, and gene mapping.
Wright, Richard. Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth. 1950.
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He sees his uncle murdered for being a successful business man. He cannot use a public library simply because he is black, yet he refuses to let the white South break his spirit.
X, Malcolm. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. 1965.
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Malcolm Little, who became Muslim Malcolm X, evolved from being the unrelenting enemy of all white men to a black leader who understood the real barriers that kept the races apart.

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Asian American Fiction

Abdel-Fattah, Randa. Does My Head Look Big in This? 2005.
Year Eleven at an exclusive prep school in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, would be tough enough, but it is further complicated for Amal when she decides to wear the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, full-time as a badge of her faith--without losing her identity or sense of style.
Budhos, Marina Tamar. Ask Me No Questions. 2006.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, 14-year-old Nadira and her family, who are in the United States illegally, attempt to flee to Canada.
Cheva, Cherry. She’s So Money. 2008.
Maya goes against her better judgement when she and a popular, but somewhat disreputable boy, start a school-wide cheating ring in order to save her family's Thai restaurant.
Chow, Cara. Bitter Melon. 2011.
With the encouragement of one of her teachers, a Chinese American high school senior asserts herself against her demanding, old-school mother and carves out an identity for herself in late 1980s San Francisco.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. 2003.
Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son, in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the atrocities of the present day.
Kadohata, Cynthia. Kira-Kira. 2004.
Chronicles the close friendship between two Japanese-American sisters growing up in rural Georgia during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the despair when one sister becomes terminally ill.
Kwok, Jean. Girl in Translation. 2010.
Emigrating with her mother from Hong Kong to Brooklyn, Kimberly Chang begins a secret double life as an exceptional schoolgirl during the day and sweatshop worker at night, an existence also marked by her first crush and the pressure to save her family from poverty.
Lewis, Richard. Killing Sea. 2006.
Two teens find each other surrounded by the destruction left in the wake of the most devastating tsunami the world has ever seen. Ruslan is a native of Aceh and is in search of his missing father. Sarah is an American girl who has already lost her mother and is now struggling to find medical treatment for her sick brother.
McCormick, Patricia. Never Fall Down. 2012.
Cambodian child soldier Arn Chorn-Pond defied the odds and used all of his courage and wits to survive the murderous regime of the Khmer Rouge
McCormick, Patricia. Sold. 2006.
When she is tricked by her stepfather and sold into prostitution, 13-year-old Lakshmi becomes submerged in a nightmare where her only comfort is the friendship she forms with the other girls.
Michaelis, Antonia. Tiger Moon. 2008.
With the help of a sarcastic tiger, the young thief Farhad must save a Hindu princess from marriage to a demon king.
Na, An. The Fold. 2008.
Korean American high school student Joyce Kim feels like a nonentity compared to her beautiful older sister, and when her aunt offers to pay for plastic surgery on her eyes, she jumps at the chance, thinking it will change her life for the better.
Na, An. Wait for Me. 2006.
Two sisters, Mina and Suna, grow up in a Korean household with a demanding mother, a quiet father, and expectations that are nearly impossible to meet.
Nanji, Shenaaz. Child of Dandelions. 2008.
Fifteen-year-old Sabine’s comfortable life is torn apart on August 6, 1972, the day that Idi Amin issued his expulsion order for all Indians in Uganda.
Sheth, Shamira. Keeping Corner. 2007.
In India in the 1940's, 13-year-old Leela's happy, spoiled childhood ends when her husband since age nine dies, leaving her a widow whose only hope of happiness could come from Mahatma Ghandi's social and political reforms.
Staples, Suzanne Fisher. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind. 1989.
Eleven-year old Shabanu, the daughter of a nomad in the Cholistan Desert in Pakistan, is pledged in marriage to an older man whose money will bring prestige to the family. She must either accept the decision, as is the custom, or risk the consequences of defying her father's wishes.
Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. 2006.
Jin is a boy faced with the casual racism of fellow students and the pressure of his crush on a Caucasian girl; the Monkey King, a character from Chinese folklore, has attained great power but feels he is being held back because of what the gods perceive as his lowly status; and Danny, a popular high-school student, suffers through an annual visit from his cousin Chin-Kee, a walking, talking compendium of exaggerated Chinese stereotypes.
Yang, Gene Luen. Level Up. 2011.
Dennis, the son of Chinese immigrants, yearns to play video games like his friends and, upon his strict father's death, becomes obsessed with them but later, realizing how his father sacrificed for him, he chooses a nobler path.
Yoo, Paula. Good Enough. 2008.
A Korean American teenager tries to please her parents by getting into an Ivy League college, but a new guy in school and her love of the violin tempt her in new directions.

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Asian American Nonfiction

Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki. Farewell to Manzanar. 1974.
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The true story of Japanese American experience during and after World War II internment.
Kiang, Ji-Li. Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution. 1997.
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The author's experiences as a teenager during the Cultural Revolution in China when unscrupulous leaders abused their power.

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East Indian American Fiction

Bahadur, Sanjay. The Sound of Water. 2009.
A trapped miner tries to save himself and his co-workers when they are trapped hundreds of feet underground, while the mining company and the government attempt a daring rescue and the workers' families keep a hopeful vigil.
Banerjee, Anjali. Invisible Lives. 2006.
Upholding her family traditions throughout her lifetime, dutiful Indo-American sari maker Lakshmi Sen agrees to marry an upstanding doctor selected for her by her widowed mother, employs her mystical abilities to identify the perfect fabrics for her customers, and finds herself falling in love with a famous actress's bodyguard.
Chandra, Vikram. Sacred Games. 2007.
New Delhi native Vikram Chandra introduces listeners to Inspector Sartaj Singh, a Sikh member of the Mumbai police force, and his long-time nemesis Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted hoodlum in India.
Desai Hidier, Tanuja. Born Confused. 2002.
Seventeen-year-old Dimple, whose family is from India, discovers that she is not Indian enough for the Indians and not American enough for the Americans.
Doshi, Tishani. The Pleasure Seekers. 2010.
A prize-winning poet's first work of fiction describes the love story between Babo, an Indian man, and Sian, a fair-skinned woman from Wales, who forged a life for themselves and their hybrid family in Madras, India.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake. 2003.
This multigenerational story is about the Ganguli family, who arrive in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from Calcutta in the 1960s. Over forty years, the reader follows the arranged marriage of Western-oriented Ashoke and his traditional wife, Ashima, and the efforts of their children to live both American and Indian lives.
Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. 1997.
In 1969, in Kerala, India, Rahel and her twin brother, Estha, struggle to forge a childhood for themselves amid the destruction of their family life, as they discover that the entire world can be transformed in a single moment.
Staples, Suzanne Fisher. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind. 1989.
Pakistani customs require Shabanu to make difficult decisions.
Staples, Suzanne Fisher. Shiva's Fire. 2000.
From the moment of her birth, Parvati seems to be capable of a mystical power that manifests itself in her inspired classical Indian dance. This talented dancer sacrifices family and friends for her art.
Sundaresan, Indu. The Splendor of Silence. 2006.
American soldier, Sam, falls in love with Mila, the daughter of a local political agent in western India. Thier doomed love affair is told on told on the stage of a country torn between imperialism and nationalism.
Swarup, Vikas. Q & A: A Novel. 2005.
When an uneducated orphan wins a jackpot of a billion rupees on a trivia show, the show's directors have him arrested for cheating. Basis for the film Slumdog Millionaire.
Whelan, Gloria. Homeless Bird. 2001.
Bound by her cultural and religious obligations, thirteen-year-old Koly is first married to a sickly husband and then subjected to the brutal life of a Hindu widow.

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Hispanic American Fiction

Alvarez, Julia. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. 1991.
Four sisters adjust to their Dominican-New York City move over almost 30 years.
Alvarez, Julia. Finding Miracles. 2006.
Fifteen-year-old Milly Kaufman is an average American teenager until Pablo, a new student at her school, inspires her to search for her birth family in his native country.
Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of the Butterflies. 1994.
This novelization, set during the days of the Trujilo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, tells the story of the Mirabal sisters who were assassinated after visting their jailed husbands.
Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me, Ultima. 1972.
Catholicism and pagan mysticism pull at Antonio who is trying to divine his destiny.
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. 1984.
In vivid sketches drawn from real life, Esperanza tells of growing toward young womanhood in a Chicano barrio of Chicago.
Hijuelos, Oscar. Dark Dude. 2008.
In the 1960s, Rico Fuentes, a pale-skinned Cuban American teenager, abandons drug-infested New York City for the picket fence and apple pie world of Wisconsin, only to discover that he still feels like an outsider and that violent and judgmental people can be found even in the wholesome Midwest.
Peña, Matt de la. Mexican Whiteboy. 2008.
Sixteen-year-old Danny, half Mexican, half white, has conflicts to overcome due to his biracial heritage. He feels he's too brown to fit in at his at his mostly-white prep school, and too pale when he visits the Mexican side of his family.
Resau, Laura. The Queen of Water. 2011.
Living in a village in Ecuador, a Quechua Indian girl is sent to work as an indentured servant for an upper class "mestizo" family.
Sáenz, Benjamin Alire. He Forgot to Say Good-bye. 2008.
A friendship forms between two lonely teenaged Mexican-American boys who are very different but who have the same father whom neither boy has met.
Soto, Gary. Accidental Love. 2008.
After unexpectedly falling in love with a "nerdy" boy, fourteen-year-old Marisa works to change her life by transferring to another school, altering some of her behavior, and losing weight.
Valdes-Rodriguez, Alisa. Haters. 2006.
Having tried for years to deny her psychic abilities, high school sophomore Paski has disturbing visions about the popular girl at her new high school in Orange County, California.
Wright, Bil. Putting Makeup on the Fatboy. 2011.
Sixteen-year-old Carlos Duarte is on the verge of realizing his dream of becoming a famous make-up artist, but first he must face his jealous boss at a Macy's cosmetics counter, his sister's abusive boyfriend, and his crush on a punk-rocker classmate.

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Native American Fiction

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 2007.
Junior wants more from life than what the reservation has to offer him so he transfers to an all-white high school in town where he is stunned and amazed by this strange and affluent new world.
Alexie, Sherman. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. 1993.
This painful and poignant account captures the determination of people struggling to survive the bleak environment of life on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
Bruchac, Joseph. Code Talker. 2005.
After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.
Dorris, Michael. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. 1987.
The story intertwines three generations of American Indian women, depicting the hardships they faced and the coming of age of the youngest girl, Rayona.
Hautman, Pete. Hole in the Sky. 2001.
In a future world ravaged by a mutant virus, sixteen-year-old Ceej and three other teenagers seek to save the Grand Canyon from being flooded, while trying to avoid capture by a band of renegade Survivors.
McNamee, Graham. Bonechiller. 2008.
Four high school students face off against a soul-stealing beast that has been making young people disappear from their small Ontario, Canada, town for centuries.

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Short Story Collections

A Gathering of Flowers: Stories About Being Young in America. 1990.
Join In: Multiethnic Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults. 1993.

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