YA/Teen Novels about Race, Racism, and Antiracism

The hate u give
Tyler Johnson was here
The sun is also a star
Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you
New boy
How it went down
Dear Martin
All American boys
Piecing me together
X : a novel
Anger is a gift : a novel

Janina watches (a lot of) TV

Defending Jacob – AppleTV – based on the book by William Landay, this show has Chris Evans (Captain America), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), and Jaeden Martell (IT). Set in Newton, Massachusetts the DA (Evans) world is upended when his his son (Martell) is charged with murder. AppleTV releases episodes once a week, so I am on the edge of my seat to find out if Jacob committed the murder or not! (No, I have not yet read the book!)

Season 2 of Shrill – Hulu – (based very loosely on Shrill by Lindy West) Andy (Aidy Bryat; SNL) is back for another season of putting her life together. This series captured me from Season 1. A fluffy young woman who feels that she doesn’t deserve love or even attention and success because of her weight, sets out on a path of self-discovery. Her arrogant boss, her loser boyfriend – Andy has to learn to stand up for herself and realize she is worthy of the good things in life – and that includes giving up snacking on a handful of almonds. You will laugh out loud and cheer for Andy and her friends and co-workers who are so fun and odd. Highly recommend!

After Life – Netflix – Tony (Ricky Gervais) has just lost his wife and he works for a local newspaper that reports on the quirky residents of his small town. He’s depressed and frankly, wants to die. There are people though, that are unwilling to let him go down that path. This show was so funny, because hi, Ricky Gervais, but it is also so poignant and real. You’ll be laughing-crying the whole way through!

Becoming – Netflix – If you’ve read Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, and even if you haven’t yet and love Michelle Obama then this is a must watch. She is an amazing woman! This follows Michelle on her book tour and has bits of her past and her present. Heartwarming and hopeful, this one made me teary.

Documentary Now! – Netflix – What happens when Bill Hader (Barry;SNL) and Fred Armisen (Portlandia; SNL) get together? Hilarity. The premise is easy: Hader and Armisen take real documentaries and spoof them. Special guests include Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, and John Mulaney (he also writes a few!). The episodes left me laughing harder than I had in a very long time. A much-needed release!

Middleditch & Schwartz – Netflix – Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) and Ben Schwartz (Parks & Recreation) get together to do live improv in front of an audience. I could not stop laughing! These two are so funny and quick on their feet! I have watched it more than once…

Normal People – Hulu – Based on the book by Sally Rooney, Normal People follows Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) as they navigate a connection and bond they created in high school when Marianne was an outsider and Connell was a popular boy. Set in Ireland, this show was crazy addicting and had this atmosphere of yearning and sadness. It takes you through the years of these characters as they grow into adulthood from teenagers to college graduates. I cheered for these two crazy kids to get together, and I was taken on a roller coaster! LOVED it!

Never Have I Ever – Netflix – I’m a sucker for teen rom coms, so let me just own that. I am also a sucker for Mindy Kaling. She co-wrote The Office, and created, wrote, and starred in The Mindy Project. Oh, and she’s also written two books. Check them out here and here. This show is a coming of age story. It follows Devi Vishwakumar ( Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), an Indian American, through the drama of high school. Devi is dealing with the death of her father, and this loss drives Devi to pursue her crush and her attempt to reinvent herself. Hilarious, poignant, with a dash of a surprising romance, this show was addicting. I watched it all in one night and I am already dying for more.

Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill – Netflix – If you were a fan of Seinfeld, and Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up, then this is a must see! Jerry is back with something fresh and timely!

The Tiger King – Netflix – Hello cool cats and kittens! If you have not seen this documentary… have you been living under a rock? Go watch!

Cracked Up: The Darrell Hammond Story – Netflix – What made me watch this was I remember Darrell Hammond for his Bill Clinton skits on SNL. In fact, he did a lot of impressions that were hilarious on SNL. This documentary is about the abusive childhood Hammond suffered, and how he had managed to shove those memories down until a triggering moment on SNL that caused him to be taken out of the studio in a strait jacket. Sad, yet hopeful.

Black Summer – Netflix – If you’re looking for that zombie apocalypse, then here it is. This show had my heart racing! There isn’t a lot of dialogue, but you’re so caught up in what is happening, you don’t even notice. There’s no escaping violence in this! It did a really great job of making you get attached to the characters, and then of course, making you stress over their survival. If you like zombies, WATCH THIS!

Waco – Netflix – If you’ve ever wondered what went down in Waco, this is worth watching. Obviously, some things should be taken with a grain of salt, but if you’re like me, you’ll then want to go on and do some research to find out just what was true and what wasn’t. Michael Shannon (Academy Award Winning Actor who I am convinced always plays a bad guy) and Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) bring amazing performances! I didn’t even know who Kitsch was, and afterwards had to look up what he’d been in because how could I have missed this guy?! This was engrossing and sad and makes you realize how true it is that the bad guy is the hero in their own story. I also found myself researching more information about what happened in Waco after this.

#blackAF – Netflix – Rashida Jones (Parks & Recreation) and Kenya Barris (creator of Black-ish), star in this faux documentary about Barris. He “plays himself”, and Rashida Jones (Ann Perkins!) plays his wife. Their daughter, Drea (Iman Benson) is filming her large and crazy family as part of her application to film school, and she manages to capture her family in all their glory. This show was like a cross between Arrested Development and Modern Family. I thought it was a riot, and I giggled quite a bit. I watched it all in one go and I am hoping it will be back for a Season 2!

The Great – Hulu – Elle Fanning (Sleeping Beauty) and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men) star in this modernized version of how Catherine the Great became Catherine the Great. Catherine (Fanning) has just married the Emperor of Russia, Peter (Hoult), and she has high hopes of helping her new husband rule Russia. Unfortunately, she finds Peter to be a willful man-child who can be cruel and rather, well, stupid. So, she decides it’s time to take matters into her own hands. Based on true events of Catherine the Great managing to stage a coup to overthrow her husband’s rule, this show was funny, oddly moving, and quite a lot of fun. (And it even covers that rumor of Catherine!) I had no idea Hoult could be so funny! And Fanning, whom I have only seen in serious roles, showed her acting chops here. I can’t wait for Season 2!