The #ownvoices hashtag was created by author Corinne Duyvis to spotlight books about characters with marginalized identities created by authors who share the same marginalized identity (or identities). The character and creator may share a common disability, sexuality, gender identity, race, immigration status, or other identity. We hope these selections serve to educate and encourage a dialogue on topics of representation, as well as provide a starting point for readers seeking stories written from an “own voices” perspective.

Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Ever since her body grew into curves, Xiomara Batista has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. She pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers. When she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. Elizabeth Acevedo is a Dominican-American poet just like the protagonist Xiomara.

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On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral — for all the wrong reasons. Portrayed by the media as a menace, Bri makes a choice– and becomes the very thing the public has made her out to be. The odds are stacked against her, and freedom of speech isn’t always free. Author Angie Thomas wrote the book so she could discuss the costs tolled on minorities and women when they do speak-up.

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Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson

Struggling with depression and trying to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was. While powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him. Over time he came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.

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Mondays Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help. As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone? Author Tiffany Jackson is Black like the protagonist.

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Patron Saint of Nothing by Randy Rigbay

When seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero learns his Filipino cousin and former best friend, Jun, was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, he flies to the Philippines to learn more. Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it. The author Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest.

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I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. Author Erika L. Sánchez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and lives in Chicago, not far from the setting.

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Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Juliet, a self-identified queer, Bronx-born Puerto Rican-American, comes out to her family to disastrous results the night before flying to Portland to intern with her feminist author icon–whom Juliet soon realizes has a problematic definition of feminism that excludes women of color. In a summer bursting with queer brown dance parties, a sexy fling with a motorcycling librarian, and intense explorations of race and identity, Juliet learns what it means to come out–to the world, to her family, to herself. Author Gabby Rivera is a Bronx-born queer Puerto Rican.

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The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life. Author Emily X.R. Pan was originally born in the Midwestern United States to immigrant parents from Taiwan.

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The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, she knows her parents will never approve. When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down. Author Brandy Colbert is Black and grew up in the midwest like the protagonist.

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Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahemd

17-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: a good school, an arranged marriage. And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school, living in New York City, pursuing the boy she’s liked for ages. When a terrorist attack occurs in another Midwestern city, the prime suspect happens to share her last name. In an instant, Maya’s community, consumed by fear and hatred, becomes unrecognisable, and her life changes forever. Author Samira Ahmed was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in a small town in Illinois.

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American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture. Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. This story is based on the author’s experience as a Haitian immigrant in 1980s.

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Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

A powerful and moving teen graphic novel memoir about immigration, belonging, and how arts can save a life. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation–following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married–Robin is devastated. Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.

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Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw

With acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw’s Laughing at My Nightmare describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a “you-only-live-once” perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life threatening disease.

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The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais

Deaf teen Maya moves across the country and must attend a hearing school for the first time. As if that wasn’t hard enough, she also has to adjust to the hearing culture, which she finds frustrating. As Maya looks past graduation and focuses on her future dreams, nothing, not even an unexpected romance, will not derail her pursuits. But when people in her life ask her to question parts of her Deaf identity, Maya stands proudly, never giving in to the idea that her Deafness is a disadvantage. Features a Deaf protagonist and an Own Voices perspective on Deaf and Hard of Hearing culture.

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Unbroken:13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens

An anthology of stories in various genres, featuring disabled characters and written by disabled creators, ranging from established best selling authors to debut authors.

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him–wherein he’ll have to woo her–he’s totally on board. Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways. Author Sandhya Menon is a Indian American like to protagonist.

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If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it. The secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. If I Was Your Girl was partially inspired by author, Meredith Russo, experiences as a trans woman.

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Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, gets suspended for confronting her teacher, she heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break where her path crosses with Adam. Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, and is intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father. Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals. Until they meet. Author S.K. Ali was born in South India and immigrated to Canada.

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Author Tomi Adeyemi is Nigerian-American.

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We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Author Tehlor Kay Mejia is a queer Mexican-American like the progtragisnt who is a queer LatinX.

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