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The novel is a timely story about a Black author on a book tour. During his tour, he repeatedly encounters a young, unnamed boy referred to as The Kid. While The Author straddles the line between reality and fiction, a parallel storyline unfolds about a young boy named Soot, who is dealing with the injustice and fear that accompanies growing up Black in the American south.
The graphic novel "Monsters," by Barry Windsor-Smith, addresses many of the same issues of race that are discussed in "Hell of a Book." Set in 1964, Bobby Bailey joins the U.S. Army as an innocent and damaged young man looking for a new start. When he becomes the subject of a secret government genetics program, his only protector, Sgt. McFarland, intervenes, sparking a chain of events that soon spins out of everyone's control.
If you didn't read "Black Buck" by Mateo Askaripour along with the club in January, now is the perfect time to add it to your to-be-read list.
Askaripour's debut novel begins with 22-year-old Darren living a happy, status-quo life in Bed-Stuy, New York City. Despite being the valedictorian of his high school class, Darren did not go to college and instead worked his way up to manager at a busy Starbucks. He lives with his mom, spends his free time with his longtime girlfriend and enjoys his unambitious existence until a fateful encounter with the CEO of a hot New York tech startup.
"'Black Buck' is raw and intimate — and a title I knew our book club readers needed to read as we begin this new year with a fresh start," said Jenna Bush Hager.
The book behind the 1998 cult film starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson is about two men's drug-fueled adventure through sin city. They chase down the American Dream while commenting on the failures of the counter-culture movement in the 1960's. The book is based on autobiographical events and was first published as a two-part series in Rolling Stone magazine.
The book "Between the World and Me," by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is written as a letter from the author to his son. In it, he tells his son the truth about the historic oppression and exploitation of Black people in America, and he includes his own experiences learning to navigate a racist system as a Black man.
"M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A" is a book of poems that reads similarly to a novel as it tells the story of the first African American finalist in the National Spelling Bee, 13-year-old MacNolia Cox. After the judges supposedly prevented MacNolia's win, the teenager's life was irrevocably altered.
In his memoir "Heavy," Kiese Laymon writes about growing up as a Black boy in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon shares his experiences with sexual violence, struggle with addiction and difficult relationship with his family, specifically his mother. His writing is powerful, honest and vulnerable.
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For more book recommendations, check out:
- All of Jenna Bush Hager's book club picks
- Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush celebrate sisterhood in new children's book
- 16 questions to consider after reading 'Hell of a Book' by Jason Mott