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Justine Larbalestier, whose books all feature protagonists of color, posts about the white washing of her latest book:
The notion that “black books” don’t sell is pervasive at every level of publishing. Yet I have found few examples of books with a person of colour on the cover that have had the full weight of a publishing house behind them Until that happens more often we can’t know if it’s true that white people won’t buy books about people of colour. All we can say is that poorly publicised books with “black covers” don’t sell. The same is usually true of poorly publicised books with “white covers.”


Susan from Color Online (good blog on YA books by and about POC) also adds:
Very few have responded to my comment about the absence of color among book bloggers. Those marketing folks didn't come to that conclusion without some basis in what they see. Something shaped their perception.


What is important has already been said: this is not a new issue; it is a self-perpetuating cycle contributed by bookstore shelving, marketing expectations, and aversive racism from readers and reviewers; it is symptomatic of the larger issues of racism; and it hurts readers of color.

If you're interested and would like to read more YA featuring POC, here are some personal recs:
- POC in YA (mostly chicklit) (contains books starring POC, sometimes by non-POC authors)

For books I wrote up after that post (authors all POC):

Highly Recommended

Many Ly, Roots and Wings - A gorgeous and quiet story of mothers and daughters and grief and history and loss, on being a daughter to a mother who wants nothing to do with the community she grew up in, and on what happens when you have to go back. It has all the standard elements of Asian YA but never feels rote.

Sherri L. Smith, Lucy the Giant, Sparrow, and Flygirl - Of these, I love Flygirl most. It touches on passing and being one of the first female pilots in the Army during WWII. Smith in general does great portraits of people and what they love, be it working on a fishing boat or flying a plane.

Drew Hayden Taylor, The Night Wanderer - A great antidote to Twilight, in which the vampire actually feels centuries old, the teenage girl has very teenage problems, and there is no star-crossed romance. I love this book to pieces, especially the ending, which is about history and teaching the younger generation and roots, and oh, I love it. Read this even if you don't like vampires; Taylor does not give his the standard Gothic treatment, and it works so well. This is one of my favorite books of the year so far.

Jacqueline Woodson, After Tupac and D Foster - I'm sure the title will make everyone think "street lit," but this is a lovely story of three girls growing up together, music, and the friendships that change your life.

Laurence Yep, Dragon of the Lost Sea quartet - Dragons and Chinese mythology and worldbuilding, yay! It may read a little young for some people, but I still love the prickly dragon princess and the orphan kids and, of course, Monkey.

Recommended

Tanita S. Davis, A La Carte

Justina Chen Headley, North of Beautiful - (white protag) A bit of a let down after her wonderful Girl Overboard, but still interesting and solid.

Alaya Dawn Johnson, Racing the Dark - First of the trilogy, Pacific-Islands-based fantasy. Sometimes rough in pacing, but cool ideas and concept.

Many Ly, Home Is East - Not as strong as Roots and Wings (above), but has the same quietness of that book.

Cindy Pon, Silver Phoenix - A little rough, but very imaginative details for the fantasy setting and lots of food descriptions.

Amjed Qamar, Beneath My Mother's Feet - A Pakistani's girl's family loses its source of income, and she has to drop out of school to help her mother clean houses.

Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories - Clever wordplay and fun worldbuilding.

Alex Sanchez, Rainbow Boys and Rainbow High - Gay POC! Very real-feeling dilemmas, but occasionally flat prose.

Cynthia Leitich Smith, Tantalize and ,a href="http://oyceter.dreamwidth.org/846257.html">Eternal - Vampires and angels and werebeats, oh my! Smith has really neat concepts, but the execution and pacing never quite works for me.

Sherri L. Smith, Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet - Black-Chinese multiracial character!

Uehashi Nahoko, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - Flat prose which may be due to the translation or not, but really great worldbuilding. I especially love that it talks about rewriting history and the Japanese colonization of non-Japanese people such as the Ainu and the Okinawans.

Padma Venkatraman, Climbing the Stairs - Girl tries to find freedom in WWII India. Not enough critique of the US for me.

Paula Yoo, Good Enough - Overachieving Korean daughter learns not to. Fairly standard plot, but stands out in its treatment of music.

More Books
An Na, The Fold

Bil Wright, When the Black Girl Sings


Color Online is also running a book giveaway to promote YA authors of color.
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