Torn Apart (African American Romance)

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When it comes to historical romance, Beverly Jenkins is the queen of writing about African American life and has been doing so for decades. Her most recent offerings include Forbidden , first in a series about life in the Old West. Rhine Fontaine has built up a successful life for himself by passing as White, but when he rescues a Black woman from the desert, all of his choices are thrown into question.

For a newer African American voice in the historical romance marker, look no further than Alyssa Cole. In An Extraordinary Union , Cole combines historical romance with espionage for a delightful read. Elle Burns and Malcolm McCall are both spies for the Union during the Civil War, and they must set aside their instant attraction in order to save their country. Along with a good romance novel, I also love young adult literature, so I was thrilled to discover queer romances in that collection, as well. In Our Own Private Universe , by Robin Talley, Aki meets Christa on a summer trip and decides to stop thinking about things so much and make the most of their time together.

Instructions Reserve a Meeting Room. Yet on 22 February, he too was accused of insensitivity, for allegedly minimising the suffering of Albanian Muslims. These are just the latest battles in a war that seems to be escalating over who should control the way that people from marginalised communities appear in YA fiction.

Romance Beyond Regency: Diverse Romance Novels - Manhattan Public Library

Forest published regardless, and with great success, despite a campaign of one-star reviews and emails to her publisher. A substantially revised version appeared in March The YA community is a much tighter group than the scattered loners who write adult fiction. It is something they have more reason to care about than most, since young people on average are more liberal and less white than the general population in both the US and the UK. It is also natural to write more cautiously when about half the people reading will be children.

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The YA category is still a teenager itself, with origins in the Harry Potter years at the beginning of the century. Its first big identity discussion took place in , when the film of The Hunger Games surprised some loyal but inattentive readers with the news that two of the main characters were black. The employment of sensitivity readers became routine in US YA publishing at around the same time. Tweets condemning anyone who even reads an accused book have been shared widely. Some authors feel that it is risky even to talk in public about this subject. Another author I will call Chris is white, queer and disabled.

Chris has generally found the YA community friendly and supportive during a career spanning several books, but something changed when they announced plans for a novel about a character from another culture. Later, Chris would discover that an angry post about the book had appeared anonymously on Tumblr, directing others to their website.

At the time, Chris only knew that their blog and email were being flooded with up to abusive messages a day. Some emails and comments consisted of just four-letter words. Some messages came through Goodreads, although Chris does not know if they were linked to the main YA community.

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Chris now realises that it would have been best to call the police. In fact, they told no one. The messages continued for about a year, during which time Chris stopped sleeping, found it hard to write, and became increasingly depressed. At last, from a mixture of financial necessity and the feeling that the punishment was already happening, Chris finished the book, which has since been published.


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The original Tumblr post remains online. For publishers, supporting a book accused of racism could seriously harm their reputation, yet the price of withdrawing one could be enormous.

History in Color: A Black American Romance Roundtable

Just bizarre. Does Paris know why they pulled it? They admitted this, because there are things like a racist character in the book. The author must be racist. That could be offensive. The idea that sensitivity is too subjective to understand, let alone enforce, frustrates many of those who campaign for it in the YA community. Rather than being a righteous mob trying to silence other opinions, they regard themselves as simple fact-checkers, providing a service that is welcomed by authors.

I recall a huge moment for me was reading about black ballerinas dyeing their pointe shoes to match their skin. Heidi Heilig runs a YA Facebook group with more than 1, members. She says that the community is much more moderate and reasonable than many outsiders have been led to believe.

Far from being afraid of criticism, Heilig says that many writers in her group are eager for feedback on identity matters, and many writers from marginalised groups are happy to provide it without accusing anyone of anything.

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None of this, of course, is seen by the outside world. That is the worst and last option. The first thing to do is try to help. Ellen Oh has been reluctant to talk publicly since her tweets about Blood Heir , for which she received death threats against herself and her family.

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She reported the worst cases to the police, and in the end deleted her social media accounts.

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