What’s up y’all?! So in past posts, I’ve talked about books that turn me into somewhat of a Grown Black Nancy Drew in order to figure out the whodunit/solve the case. When that happens, I have even more fun with the story and it makes me eager to get to the “big reveal” so I can find out if I was correct or not (and I REALLY like to be right, lol). These sorts of reads keep me really engaged and happy really. I also love when books are multiple perspectives and when they are, it makes me an even happier reader!
Well, I am happy to say that I recently read two books (that are out now) that did all of the above AND they were written by Black men (which I’ve been wanting to read more books by Black men)! These books have some similarities in terms of proving characters innocence & finding the real culprits but they have very distinct vibes in the twists & turns that they gave. Both of these books have breath taking covers that should make them instabuys or at least make your bookish senses tingle enough to put them on your TBR list! I’m so excited to talk about these books so I’m going to hop into it.
The Black Queen by Jumata Emill: Before I ever saw a synopsis for this book (which admittedly, I’m a chronic non-reader of anyway), I saw the cover and was immediately drawn in. I got those bookish tingles that just let me know that I would really be into this story. The story is from 2 perspectives; Duchess, the best friend of the Black Queen and Tinsley, who is aiming to prove her innocence. When I tell you you couldn’t have more different perspectives, you really couldn’t, which made the draw to this book even stronger. I mean, there was a hallway moment where you could almost hear folx chanting “FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT” (the ones that know, know).
There were so many moments where I was like “DUCHESS IS ME” because of how she responded to different situations and how down for her friends she was (a pretty literal Ride Or Verbally Bust Heads cause she’s not trying to get suspended/arrested type homegirl). She also turned into a Black Nancy Drew so I was really living for her. Tinsley admitted worked my nerves in the beginning and I had kinda hoped she would get chin-checked cause ole girl said some really outrageous ish throughout the story. By the end of the story, I saw her growth & was less annoyed by her (which should tell you a bit about her character arc). We got to see two very different world views/perceptions through them, one of privilege and the other where a way was always made out of no way. A lot goes on in this book from start to finish so be prepared to kept on your toes friends!
Promise Boys by Nick Brooks: Now, this book I DID actually read the synopsis for (I didn’t see the cover first & that’s okay) and knew this was a book I wanted to read. Full disclosure, I am on the blog tour for this book (hence this post) but this book would’ve definitely had a place on this blog. When I saw that they had a FULL cast for the audiobook, I knew I really REALLY wanted to listen to it and my friends, I would HIIIIIIIIIIIIGHLY recommend taking that route because the narrators did a superb job! It’s a little under 5 hours and you won’t want to pause it (I finished it in 2 days). Since I listened to the audiobook, I couldn’t highlight things said (and I don’t know how to clip things, lol) but I definitely was taking mental notes.
Since the audiobook had a full cast, it really highlighted the layers that this story had. While the book is centered around 3 Black & Brown boys, J.B., Ramón & Trey, we got to hear/read the thoughts & accounts of others which helped to build this really rich world. We were not only able to see the perspectives of these 3 kids who really don’t have a fair shake at life to begin with but come to understand how they ended up where they did as well as see the support systems they each had. I can’t speak for anyone else but I knew from chapter one that I was rooting for them, in both proving their innocence and finding success (I’m always rooting for the Black & Brown Folx doe).
As I usually do, I had a fav and it was definitely Keyana. She was about the cause from jump and she was about her business. I couldn’t help but respect how she approached the case from varying angles, using every resource she had at her disposal. Keyana, in no way, felt like a side character in how fully realized she was and I found myself looking forward to hearing her thoughts or her popping up in J.B’s chapters because she was such a standout from the moment she was mentioned. She’s definitely been added to my list of characters I want to see full novels about (*hint* *hint* Nick…which this was mentioned during the New York launch, lol)! When you read this book, you’ll understand why I had to mention her specifically (*smirks*).
Something that I loved about The Black Queen & Promise Boys is that they both offered criticisms of the educational systems that are in place. They addressed the issues around inclusion, funding, equity and opportunity for all students both in the public & charter school systems. *Warning, I’m finna hop on my soap box for a second.* As an educator, this is always in the back of my mind when I step into the schools that I go into. I see the disparities between the public and private schools (as those are the settings that I currently work with students in) and how students are treated & viewed based upon their backgrounds & abilities. It’s disheartening to see that we still have issues with inclusion in 2023 and schools not taking the necessary steps towards an equitable playing field for all students regardless of their race, religion, finances or abilities/diagnoses. I appreciate that both these books bring this to the forefront so that kids who read it can learn to identify these issues so they can advocate for themselves. Ultimately, the hope is that kids would find their voices and speak up alongside or even without their adult counterparts, which these books help them to see what that is like and the possible outcomes. *Hops off soap box*
I am REALLY hoping that both of these books are adapted for the screen because they played out clearly in my mind as I read them. If they are, these stories would be able to reach an even broader audience AND open up more conversations around the educational and social disparities that we see come up throughout the stories. Also, we need to see more Black & Brown kids win in the media; whether its through solving crimes, proving their innocence, their capabilities in their passions, their strong support systems, finding love and having healthy relationships. Can someone call up the Obamas and ask them to adapt these books, PLEASE?!
Aiight y’all, I think I’ve talked your ears off, or would it be wrote your eyes off, enough. Either way, I’m going to end this post here! If neither of these books weren’t on your radar, I’m glad to have put you on! Get into your detective bags with these stories then spread the word so that your people could do the same! Let me know in the comments or on social media if you had these books in your TBR. Have you gotten the chance to read either of them? What do you think? You can find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can find me mostly in book centered clubs/rooms (mostly on Tuesdays now) to chat with me. Also subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already because it makes me feel like I’ve guessed correctly whodunit! Sending y’all bookish love and wishing you happy reading!