• By Jamie Stroble
  • Posted Thursday, July 23, 2020

#OwnVoices: Celebrating Diverse Literature Written by Diverse Authors

So what is #ownvoices? Maybe you’ve seen the hashtag on Twitter, or heard other readers talking about it. Not a new concept, the hashtag was coined in 2015 by author Corinne Duyvis, who wanted a way to share books whose main characters represented varied groups of people, and were also penned by writers who shared the same diversity as their main characters. Originally #ownvoices was used on social media and beyond to highlight childrens and young adult books with those qualities. Since you’re never too old to stop learning, we’ve put together a list of #ownvoices books for adults, all of which you can reserve through Forsyth County Public Library by clicking on the book cover. Some of these books have been pretty popular, so you may have read some #ownvoices books already without even knowing it! By exploring different worlds created by authors who have experienced that world, we can hope to find some empathy and kindness in our own realities.


behold
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. However, when the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart.


broken
This is what hooks Sam when he first overhears it at a fancy dinner party in the Hollywood hills: the story of a globe-trotting shaman who claims to perform 'open-soul surgery' on emotionally damaged people. For neurotic, depressed Sam, new to Los Angeles after his life in New York imploded, the possibility of total transformation is utterly tantalizing. He's desperate for something to believe in, and the shaman--who promises ancient rituals, plant medicine, and encounters with the divine--seems convincing enough for Sam to sign up for a weekend under his care.


bride
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions--like grief. And love. He thinks he's defective. His family knows better--that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride. As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned.


homegoing
Each chapter in the novel follows a different descendant of an Asante woman named Maame, starting with her two daughters, who are half sisters, separated by circumstance: Effia marries James Collins, the British governor in charge of Cape Coast Castle, while her half-sister Esi is held captive in the dungeons below. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia's descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America.


there
Tommy Orange's wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American--grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism.


upright
Esther is a stowaway. She's hidden herself away in the Librarian's book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her--a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda. The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.


waiting
This is the story of Lin Kong, a man living in two worlds, struggling with the conflicting claims of two utterly different women as he moves through the political minefields of a society designed to regulate his every move and stifle the promptings of his innermost heart.


fruit
In the vein of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both.


this
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future. Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them.

something
Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn't come at a worse time-threatening Emma's promotion and Jo's new movie. With the launch of Jo's film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all... but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?


good
Inside the halls of ILLC, an institution for juveniles with disabilities, we discover a place that is deeply different from and yet remarkably the same as the world outside. In this isolated place on Chicago's South Side, friendships are forged, trust is built, and love affairs begin. It's in these alliances that the residents of this neglected community ultimately find the strength to bond together, resist their mistreatment, and finally fight back. And in the process, each is transformed.


strangeness
Told from different perspectives by a host of beguiling characters, A Strangeness in My Mind is a modern epic of coming of age in a great city, a brilliant tableau of life among the newcomers who have changed the face of Istanbul over the past fifty years.


lowland
Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue vastly different lives--Udayan in rebellion-torn Calcutta, Subhash in a quiet corner of America--until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.