April 1, 2017 | jonesw
Check out one of the following YA titles to discover a different culture, or perhaps find a reflection of your own experiences.
Culture: Native American
Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Culture: Canadian Aboriginal
Malou has just turned sixteen—hardly old enough to be out in the world on her own—and all she knows for sure is that she’s mixed-race and that she was left at an orphanage as a newborn. Beyond that, it’s a mystery—a mystery that takes her to the little town of Parry Sound, where she finds lots of young brown faces like hers. Are these her relatives, and why doesn’t anyone want to talk about it?
Culture: Ivorian (Ivory Coast)
They only wanted to make some money during the dry season to help their impoverished family; instead they were tricked into forced labor on a plantation in the Ivory Coast. For two years what has mattered are the number of cacao pods Amadou and his younger brother, Seydou, can chop down in a day. Then Khadija comes, the first girl who has ever come to camp, and she’s a wild thing. She fights, but the bosses break her. Now the three band together as family and try just once more to escape.
Cultural: Indian American
Seventeen-year-old Dimple, whose family is from India, discovers that she is not Indian enough for the Indians and not American enough for the Americans, as she sees her best friend taking possession of both her heritage and the boy she likes.
Sixteen-year-old Tina and two friends leave Kenya and slip into the Congo, from where she and her mother fled years before, seeking revenge for her mother's murder but uncovering startling secrets.
When Patson's family moves to Marange region of Zimbabwe, he begins working in the mines, searching for blood diamonds, until government soldiers arrive and Patson is forced to journey to South Africa in search of his missing sister and a better life.
In order to save her family's farm, Roshen, sixteen, must leave her rural home to work in a factory in the south of China. There she finds arduous and degrading conditions and contempt for her minority (Uyghur) background. Sustained by her bond with other Uyghur girls, Roshen is resolved to endure all to help her family and ultimately her people.
Culture: Chinese American
When Jade Moon, born in the unlucky year of the Fire Horse, and her father immigrate to America in 1923 and are detained at Angel Island Immigration Station, Jade Moon is determined to find a way through and prove that she is not cursed.
Stories of recent Mexican, Venezuelan, Kazakh, Chinese, Romanian, Palestinian, Swedish, Korean, Haitian, and Cambodian immigrants reveal what it is like to face prejudice, language barriers, and homesickness along with common teenage feelings and needs.
Culture: Korean American
Joyce never used to care that much about how she looked, but that was before she met JFK—John Ford Kang, the most gorgeous guy in school. And it doesn’t help that she’s constantly being compared to her beautiful older sister, Helen. Then her rich plastic-surgery-addict aunt offers Joyce a gift to “fix” a part of herself she’d never realized needed fixing—her eyes. Joyce has heard of the fold surgery—a common procedure meant to make Asian women’s eyes seem “prettier” and more “American”—but she’s not sure she wants to go through with it. Her friend Gina can’t believe she isn’t thrilled. After all, the plastic surgeon has shown Joyce that her new eyes will make her look just like Helen—but is that necessarily a good thing?
Culture: Korean American
A Korean American teenager tries to please her parents by getting into an Ivy League college, but a new guy in school and her love of the violin tempt her in new directions.
In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Nadine goes to live with her father in Miami while her cousin Magdalie, raised as her sister, remains behind in a refugee camp, dreaming of joining Nadine but wondering if she must accept that her life and future are in Port-au-Prince.
Portrait of two Muslim sisters, once closely bonded, but now on divergent paths as one embraces her religion and the other remains secular.
Culture: Native American
Seventh-grader Lewis "Shoe" Blake from the Tuscarora Reservation has a new friend, George Haddonfield from the local Air Force base, but in 1975 upstate New York there is a lot of tension and hatred between Native Americans and whites--and Lewis is not sure that he can rely on friendship.
In Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death, seventeen-year-olds Sahar and Nasrin love each other in secret until Nasrin's parents announce their daughter's arranged marriage and Sahar proposes a drastic solution.
Nora, a fifteen-year-old Mexican girl, faces the challenges of being an illegal immigrant in Texas when she and her mother cross the border in search of Nora's father.
Culture: Mexican American
Danny's tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.
But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.
That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see--the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.
Culture: Indian, British
As the partition of India nears in 1947 bringing violence even to Jalandhar, Tariq, a Muslim, finds himself caught between his forbidden interest in Anupreet, a Sikh girl, and Margaret, a British girl whose affection for him might help with his dream of studying at Oxford.
Culture: Indian, Hawaiian
Rani Patel, almost seventeen and living on remote Moloka'i island, is oppressed by the cultural norms of her Gujarati immigrant parents but when Mark, an older man, draws her into new experiences red flags abound.
Culture: Israeli, Palestinian
Ronit, an Israeli girl, and Jamil, a Palestinian boy, fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered.
In Hong Kong, Chan Tze Man, called Simon Chan, leaves high school because he cannot master English, but when he befriends Amy, a Chinese American who knows little Chinese, their unlikely bond gives hope to both.
In India, a girl who excels at Bharatanatyam dance refuses to give up after losing a leg in an accident.
In the mountains of northern Afghanistan after 9/11, Najmah watches in horror as the brutal Taliban kidnap her father and older brother. Will they ever return home? When her mother and baby brother die in an American air raid, she stops speaking, and, disguised as a boy, makes a perilous journey to a refugee camp in Pakistan. In a parallel narrative, Nusrat (her American name was Elaine), who converted to Islam when she met Faiz in New York, has set up a rough school for the refugees. She has had no news of Faiz, her husband, since he left to establish a clinic in the north. The two stories come together when Najmah and Nusrat meet in the camp, where they wait in anguish for news of the people they love.
Culture: South African
Zanele is secretly plotting against the apartheid government, while her best friend Thabo has troubles of his own with a local gang, and Jack, from the wealthy white suburbs, falls in love with a girl from the black township of Soweto.