5 must-read novels for 2021

I don’t know about anybody else, but my reading material so far this year has been seriously lacking in all areas. In fact, I’ve been stuck on the same book since the beginning of the year, because it’s just so…blah. I’m not a quitter though, so I’ll finish it, but once I get through it, I’m gonna need something outstanding to get me back in the reading game. 

In the hunt for something new and fresh to read in 2021, I’ve come across a bunch of intriguing looking novels by Black authors that I’m actually excited to read. There’s nothing like getting lost in a good novel, and these five brand-new books will help you do just that. From The Hate U Give author Angie Thomas’ latest to Naima Coster’s sophomore entry into the literary world, there’s a little something for everyone. 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

We can’t help but be loyal to author Angie Thomas after she penned The Hate U Give and brought so much of the Black experience to a much wider audience before being “woke” was even a trendy thing. Concrete Rose, which came out in January, is actually the prequel to The Hate U Give and tells the story of Maverick Carter, offering up a powerful look at Black boyhood. 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, $13.98 from Amazon 

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

This timely novel by author Leesa Cross-Smith was released in February, and is a deep—almost cathartic—look at the significance and impact of meaningful and real human relationships. It tells the story of a therapist who comes across a man on the brink and manages to convince the stranger to spend a weekend with her, not realizing that perhaps she needed the interaction just as much as he did.

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith, $23.99 from Amazon

What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

The second novel from Afro-Dominican writer Naima Coster who penned 2017’s Halsey Street, What’s Mine and Yours came out in March. It takes her readers out of New York and to a North Carolina town where school integration is rocking the community. The story is an eye-opening look at race relations, colorism and family dynamics that spans multiple generations.

What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster, $20.99 from Barnes & Noble

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Another sophomore novel, award-winning author Kaitlyn Greenidge’s Libertie will be released on March 30. It’s a fictionalized tale based on the true story of one of the first Black female doctors in America. Only the story focuses on her daughter who is hesitant to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Raised in post-Civil War Brooklyn, all she wants is the freedom to choose her own path, but when she decides to marry and move to Haiti under the belief that she will be an equal to her husband, she soon learns that freedom for a Black woman may not really be freedom at all.

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge, $20.49 from Amazon

Caul Baby by Morgan Jenkins

With Caul Baby, author Morgan Jenkins is serving a super-unique perspective on infertility. It tells the story of a woman named Laila who turns to magic to finally get her baby, but when even that doesn’t work everything changes for two Harlem families that will be forever intertwined. Interestingly, this is Jenkins’ first foray into fiction, and it looks like it’s going to be quite a captivating read.

Caul Baby by Morgan Jenkins, $25.75 from Bookshop.org