I am so happy to have had the chance to read this amazing anthology! With 17 different Black YA writers, this book portrays a multitude of perspectives and voices. From summer camp stories to forbidden romance to struggling with a sibling’s death, Black Enough has something for everyone.
Below are my thoughts on each of the 17 stories in this anthology in the order that they appear in the book. I’m not going to rate them individually, but I’ve starred my favorites!
Half a Moon | Renée Watson | This is a sweet story about half sisters connecting at a week-long summer camp.
🌟 Black Enough | Varian Johnson | I loved this one! It was a nice mix of funny and serious. It’s about a boy named Cam and his internal struggle about being “Black enough,” and it also touches on police brutality. I love the women in this story, especially Cam’s grandma, who does not take crap from anyone.
Warning: Color May Fade | Leah Henderson | Leah Henderson’s story follows an artist at a boarding school. I really like the way that art was a part of the story. I do feel like some things could’ve been explored a little more (I guess that’s the downside to short stories), and I’m not sure how I felt about the ending.
Black. Nerd. Problems. | Lamar Giles | This story follows a nerdy mall employee and I quite enjoyed it. I loved the Star Wars references, and the mall coworker dynamics are really fun!
🌟 Out of the Silence | Kekla Magoon | Kekla Magoon’s story is amazing. The premise is sad and beautifully done—it’s about a girl whose classmate dies in a car accident, and the piece explores death and questioning your sexuality. My favorite aspect of the story was its unique writing style, as it’s written in second person and addressed to the girl who died. (Warning: fatal car accident)
The Ingredients | Jason Reynolds | I really liked this sweet story. It’s simple, as it mostly just follows a group of friends on a walk back from the pool, but I really liked its simplicity, and all of the banter between the friends was fun to read.
Oreo | Brandy Colbert | “Oreo” is a sweet piece about family (specifically cousins!), HBCUs, and prejudices within oppressed communities, all set during a family trip to Missouri. I loved the complex family dynamics.
Samson and the Delilahs | Tochi Onyebuchi | This is a nice story that also touches on family relationships. It’s about a boy named Sobechi who’s on a debate team and his discovery of rock music with the help of his new next-door neighbor. The only downside for me is that I don’t really know anything about rock music, so I didn’t really get the references.
Girl, Stop Playing | Liara Tamani | Liara Tamani’s contribution to the anthology was super interesting. “Girl, Stop Playing” follows a girl on a church trip and a situation she gets into involving naked selfies. This story could’ve ended up as a girl-on-girl hate situation (which I do not enjoy most of the time), but this did not turn out to be the case, and I REALLY liked the female relationships. I also really liked the somewhat-unexpected ending, but I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t explain why.
Wild Horses, Wild Hearts | Jay Coles | This is a really sweet story about horse racing and a romance between two boys (one Black, one White) whose families own rival farms. I liked it, but I did feel that the writing was sort of choppy.
Whoa! | Rita Williams-Garcia | Okay, out of all the stories in this collection, I feel like this one is the most creative. I was SUPER confused at the beginning and thought it was extremely weird, but I ended up really enjoying it. I’m not going to say any more because I think it’s better to go into this one not knowing much. (Warning: discussions of slavery)
Gravity | Tracey Baptiste | This one, a story about a girl who immigrated to the U.S., was interesting. It talks about sexual harassment and I really liked the science-y part to it. Most of the story takes place during a single moment, which was also pretty cool. (Warning: sexual harassment)
🌟 The Trouble with Drowning | Dhonielle Clayton | Another one of my favorites! I was totally confused at first, but similarly to Rita Williams-Garcia’s story, it came together at the end, and when it was over I was just like, “wow.” I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that it’s super good! (Warning: death, suicide)
Kissing Sarah Smart | Justina Ireland | Justina Ireland’s story is about a girl named Devon and her trip to her grandma’s house in Georgia for the summer. It has a really sweet f/f romance, and the story touches on microaggressions, biraciality, and internalized heteronormativity. (Warning: racial microaggressions)
Hackathon Summers | Coe Booth | I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this story, and to be honest, I’m not really sure why. It’s a narrative about a boy named Garry who returns to a university for orientation after having attended a coding summer program there every summer. The coding stuff was cool—the story reminded me a little of Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi (which I highly recommend btw!) in that regard. It was also cool that the story explores Garry’s relationships with his parents, and that the love interest, Inaaya, is Muslim.
🌟 Into the Starlight | Nic Stone | “Into the Starlight” is a really cute story that weaves together romance and discussions of class. Also, expect lots to Percy Jackson references! *squeals*
The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones | Ibi Zoboi | This story, about the daughter of a Black nationalist leader questioning her father and going on an adventure for a day, was very interesting. If I’m interpreting it correctly, I think that the goal of this story was not to throw shade at people like Geri’s father, but to show that every movement and ideology has its own flaws and hypocrisies. I also just want to mention that I like that there’s a boy-girl friendship, as those are sort of hard to come by.
I liked some of these stories more than others, but ultimately, I think this is a really great anthology. The stories are generally well-written and compelling, and I like that the topics and characters are varied, showcasing diversity within diversity. If you have the chance to read Black Enough, I would definitely recommend doing so!
Are you going to read Black Enough when it releases in January? Do you like reading anthologies? And if so, what are some of your favorites? (I haven’t read a whole lot of them, but I would certainly be interested to read more if you have any recs!)
I received an ARC of this book for free through the Island Bookstore. This in no way influenced my review.