Diverse books are so important when it comes to representing different cultures, religions, socio-economic circumstances, people and walks of life – because that’s what real life is! Wouldn’t fiction be boring if you read about the same character all the time?
We’re massive supporters of diverse fiction at Happy Indulgence so we’re putting our heads together and recommending our favourite diverse reads! Your shelves will thank us (but not your wallet).
The First Third by Will Kostakis – Jeann
I love how this book portrays living in a Greek family, the love for a grandmother, and self discovery as Billy fulfills his grandma’s bucket list for his life. Cultural diversity comes naturally to Will Kostakis and the humour in the book was fantastic, but it doesn’t shy away from the tough and touching topics as well. Full review here.
I started this book at 9 am in the evening and thought I could put it down before I went to sleep. Technically I was right since that’s what I did but… I ended up finishing the whole book in one sitting early in the morning. It’s a fairly fast read, but also delves into the heart of the situation quickly and without pretense. The main character Naila is a Pakistani American whose parents are extremely traditional – so traditional they cart her off to have an arranged marriage. Some people out there think those are long gone. That is not the case. In half of the book, we see her life as a POC in America, and in the latter half we see her life living in Pakistan, giving readers a thorough view of the two different worlds that the main character is in. Complete with gorgeous writing and a great message of inner strength, this one is not to be missed. Full review here.
I love magical realism so it was a given that I was going to enjoy this book. But what made this novel even more magical for me was the diversity. This is a Romeo and Juliet inspired story and our two main characters come from different cultures. Lace is from a Hispanic family and Cluck is from a French family. I loved all of the cultural references in the book and I highly recommend it.
There aren’t enough books about lesbians (and much less, about gay relationships that aren’t about coming out) and there aren’t enough books about starting a career and achieving your goals. That’s why Everything Leads to You is one of my favourite contemporaries of all time! It’s set in Hollywood and we hear about set designing from a girl who is comfortable with her sexuality. Everything felt so natural, from the romance that isn’t perfect at the start, to a wonderfully supportive friendship and also challenges and character development. So yeah, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. Full review here.
Do you know HOW MANY TIMES I’VE TEARED UP WHILE READING THIS BOOK? Pretty much almost every time I’ve read it… which is many, many times. I even used my Audible credits to get it in audiobook because 1) I adore this book to pieces and 2) LIN MANUEL MIRANDA NARRATES IT AND HIS VOICE JUST F I T S. And this is from someone who really can’t stand audiobooks! Ari and Dante are both Hispanic boys living in America, although their backgrounds are pretty different. The book takes you from their first meeting to their physical “break-up,” that is, when one of the boys move away. It’s as much of a romance as it is a novel of self-discovery, as both boys realize their inner wants. Also the tears are good tears, not the sad ones okay? Just making sure. Full review here.
Every Day by David Levithan – Jenna
This is one of my favourite books of all time and it’s 100% because of the LGBTQIA+ aspect of it. In this novel, A wakes up in a different person’s body each day and each of the characters are extremely diverse. There are straight characters, gay characters, lesbian characters and different characters along the whole spectrum. I LOVE THIS BOOK. Full review here.
This book is such a unique exploration of schizophrenia – merging the line between reality and fiction. How is life as a schizophrenia? I wouldn’t know, but this book certainly captures the sheer horror and confusion in an artistic, and impactful way. Caden dreams about an adventure of a ship that merges with his reality of being in a hospital. It’s such a beautiful artistic story, based on the experience of Neal Schusterman’s own son. And I haven’t read anything that portrays schizophrenia is such a heartfelt way. Full review here.
Play On by Michelle Smith – Aila
This book is much less well-known and is another short and sweet read. We’re in a southern town where baseball runs supreme, and looking at two characters starting to fall in love. However, there’s something about the town’s newcomer, Marisa, that Austin can’t pinpoint. It’s the fact that she suffers from depression, which is stunting the growth of their relationship. It takes a while for her to open up to Austin to that part of her, and yet his consideration and attempts to understand and support her are just so endearing and tugs on your heartstrings. The book really explores the repercussions of having a friend or significant other suffer from this illness, and how although having one may not be the easiest thing in the world, it’s extremely worth it.
I recently read this novel and was blown away by it. I thought it was such a fantastic and accurate representation of OCD. This book explores the impact that OCD has on the characters and how debilitating the illness can be. I loved the characters and the story and this is one of my favourite books about mental illness. Full review here.
I don’t really know much about being intersex, but I feel like I have a better understanding of the sensitivities of the condition after reading this book. This book presents a really sensitive, confronting and confusing look at gender identity and how harmful it is for an intersex person, but also the support structures that should be put in place around this. It’s also incredibly diverse, covering feminism and sexuality as well! This book proves that an author can write outside of their own experiences by interviewing people who identify with the group and extensive research, which the author discussed at a recent event covered by Book Munchies. Full review here.
Disability/Different walks of life
In this book, we’re looking at it from the point of view of the bully, not the bullied… Although who knows the whole story? Nikki has experienced a lot of backlash after a girl at her party became viral and almost committed suicide, and it takes a lot of lessons to finally get her to like herself again. Along the way, she meets a boy in a wheelchair who can’t move his lower body. Pax was the most adorable of the adorbs, and one of my favorite parts about his character was the fact that he used to be one of the popular guys who made fun of people without a thought… All in all this book really showed the discoveries of humility, self-forgiveness, and endless possibilities despite the mistakes we make. Full review here.
The Stars at Oktober Bend is an Aussie YA novel that I read at the beginning of this year and it’s one that has stuck with me since. The main character in this novel was involved in a terrible incident that left her with speech problems. She has trouble expressing herself through words, so she does it through poetry and writing instead. Alice is such a strong main character, despite everything that she has to go through. There wasn’t a lot that I didn’t love about this book. Jeann’s Review | Jenna’s Review
For more diverse recommendations, check out the video below from our Youtube channel!
Have you read any of these books? What are your diverse recommendations?
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