Colorful tales of a 1970s Afro-punk rocker. An intimate portrait of motherhood. Sweeping historical fiction about a former slave who became one of wealthiest landowners in the Caribbean. And of course, Stacey Abrams’ ripped-from-the-headlines Supreme Court thriller. That (and so much more) is what you can expect from this year’s releases by women of color across genres—from young adult to fantasy, history and romance—so we’ve rounded up some of our most anticipated titles. Dust off that TBR list.

Most Anticipated 2021 Books by Women of Color

The Gilded Ones

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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna: The new YA fantasy novel (which will become a film trilogy, with the script also written by Forna), follows Deka, a young woman who leaves her village behind without a sense of belonging. What she finds in its place is a group of young women bonded by blood as warriors. Together, with her fellow alaki—near-immortals with rare gifts—she’ll journey to stop the empire’s greatest threat.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House: A Novel

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How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones: Welcome to Barbados, where wealth, class, love, crime and the lives of four characters merge in this seemingly picture-perfect paradise.

The Kindest Lie: A Novel

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The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson: The story of Chicago engineer Ruth and her family reveals both the commonalities and the drastic inequalities among Black and white Americans in times of economic insecurity.

Honey Girl: A Novel

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Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers: Grace Porter wakes up after a night in Sin City with her friends to find she’s married a woman she doesn’t know. After realizing that she’s never felt fulfilled in her already planned-out life, Grace goes to New York to learn more about her wife—and herself. A coming-of-age story that emphasizes the importance of finding yourself, Honey Girl features a Black millennial protagonist, a found queer family and a drunken Vegas marriage. February 23 *Although Morgan Rogers was included on this list, they do not identify as female

The Marriage Pass

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The Marriage Pass by Briana Cole: Cole’s new spinoff of her Unconditional Series is filled with lust, deceit, drama and suspense. On Dorian and Shantae’s one-year anniversary of marriage, serial cheater Dorian is offered a “marriage pass,” a night where no questions are asked. After choosing to spend his night with Shantae’s sister, Reagan, Dorian decides that he wants more than he should take. But once he makes his choice, the plot twists and mind games ensue. February 23

What's Mine and Yours

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What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster: The National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 writer Naima Coster follows her debut Halsey Street with an intimate portrait of love, motherhood, class and race. When a North Carolina community is up in arms about an integration initiative, two mothers—one raising a sensitive, anxious young Black man and the other a headstrong white woman who denies her half-Latina daughter is anything but white—make choices that will bond and affect their families for years to come. March 2 

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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton: This debut from Walton introduces you to 1970s Afro-punk rocker Opal Jewel and her white musical partner, Nev Charles. Through their fictional oral history, we learn of their rise to fame in the seventies in New York, the bold protest and violence that tears them down and how speaking your truth, especially as a Black woman, has its repercussions. Decades later, as a journalist searches for answers about her musical idols, a nasty new allegation surfaces. March 30

Wild Women and the Blues: A Fascinating and Innovative Novel of Historical Fiction

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Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce: Jazz-age Chicago comes to light as the lives of a once ambitious 1920s chorus girl, now 110 years old, and a young, grieving film student intersect in this story of secrets and illicit passions by debut author Denny S. Bryce. March 30

Of Women and Salt

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Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia: An intricately told story of three generations of Cuban women is what you can expect from Garcia’s debut. After taking in the child of a neighbor who was detained by ICE, Jeanette is motivated to learn more about her family’s complex history. She decides to reach out to her distraught mother—and her grandmother who lives in Cuba. The story spans from a 19th century cigar factory to present day and deals with addiction, the emotional trauma of displacement and discovering your roots. March 30

Caul Baby: A Novel

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Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins: This debut novel from Jerkins (who has written two nonfiction books in the past) follows Laila, who desperately wants a child, but whose previous pregnancies have ended in heartbreak. Laila turns to the Melancons, an old and powerful Harlem family whose healing abilities she hopes will help her become a mother. April 6

When Stars Rain Down

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When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown: During the summer of 1936 in a small, southern town, Opal’s excitement for her approaching birthday, as well as the Founder’s Day celebration, is brought to a sudden halt when the Ku Klux Klan terrorizes her neighborhood. As she and her neighbors struggle to stick together after tragedy strikes, Opal also deals with her combating feelings for two different people. This story explores the complicated life of adulthood, relationships, family and the lives of a Black community in the Jim Crow south.  April 13

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Anna K Away (Anna K, 2)

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Anna K Away by Jenny Lee: For fans of modern retellings of classic stories and YA contemporary novels, this is the much-awaited sequel to Jenny Lee’s retelling of Anna Karenina (Anna K). It begins after the shocking events that the first book left off with, and while Anna’s father takes her to South Korea to discover her roots, Lolly, Kimmie and Bea deal with their relationships and struggles back at home. April 27

Luck of the Titanic

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Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee: Inspired by the true story of the six Titanic survivors of Chinese descent, Lee’s novel tells the story of a British-Chinese teenager and her twin brother aboard the Titanic. Valora hopes to join the circus in New York with her brother as acrobats. But all of her dreams come to a sudden halt when she and her fellow passengers must find a way to survive. The story encapsulates the hopes, fears and true, terrifying stories of immigrants and laborers aboard the ship. May 4

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry

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Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney: Quinn is navigating life through a predominantly white high school. When she loses the journal that’s filled with her most personal notes, she’ll do anything to get it back, even if it means blackmail. In order to prevent her entire journal from being exposed on Instagram, she and her classmate work together on a new to-do list: facing all of her biggest fears, in this story about finding courage and love. May 4

Arsenic and Adobo (A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery)

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Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala: Lila moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, and her life seems to be finally getting back on track. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic—who happens to be her ex-boyfriend—drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly takes a turn. May 4

While Justice Sleeps: A Novel

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While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams: From former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (also a romance novelist, writing as Selena Montgomery), While Justice Sleeps is a ripped-from-the-headlines Washington legal thriller set within the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court. May 11

The Marvelous Mirza Girls

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The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim: Come along on a mother-daughter journey to New Delhi. After the loss of Noreen’s aunt at the end of her senior year, she decides to embark on a trip to distract herself and hopefully move on. As she strengthens her bond with her mother and finds love with Kabir, a scandal comes to light that threatens her relationship. This is a fantastic feminist coming-of-age and romance about self-discovery, grief and finding love in new places. May 18

A Sitting in St. James

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A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia: An unmissable piece of historical fiction set in 1860 on a plantation outside of New Orleans, where the lives of a plantation owner’s family and the enslaved people who live there are entrenched for generations. Stories of the realities and horrors and secrets look at the enduring legacy of slavery. May 25

The Other Black Girl: A Novel

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The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris: Editorial assistant Nella is tired of the microaggressions, privilege and racism she encounters daily as the only Black employee at her starkly white book publishing company. But when another young Black woman named Hazel arrives, hostility and menacing events begin. Is Hazel behind the workplace manipulation? This edgy, twisty thriller will keep you engaged. June 1

An Emotion of Great Delight

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An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi: From bestselling author of the Shatter Me series, Tahereh Mafi’s new heartbreaking novel of grief, love and finding happiness, centers around a Muslim family in the aftermath of 9/11. Shadi is trying to navigate her life during this increased time of violence toward the Muslim community, all while dealing with her own family pain and loneliness. June 1

Somebody's Daughter: A Memoir

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Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford: Most will jump at the chance to read Ford’s writing, especially this powerful memoir about her complex childhood with an incarcerated father, her feelings of isolation and how to “find the threads between who you are and what you were born into.”  June 1

A Hex for Danger: An Enchanted Bay Mystery

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A Hex for Danger by Esme Addison: A perfect read for fans of magical, cozy mysteries, the latest addition to the Enchanted Bay Mystery series features magic, murder, witches and mermaids. The story revolves around Aleksandra Daniels, an undercover water witch trying to solve the mystery of the bodies that have turned up in the town’s history museum. She joins the investigation at the risk of exposing her true identity only to prove that her friend, Celeste, is innocent. July 13

Island Queen: A Novel

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The Island Queen by Vanessa Riley: Dorothy Kirwin Thomas answered to no one but herself. It’s how she became a free woman, rising from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies. In this sweeping historical epic based on her life story, the 18th century, larger-than-life woman comes to life. July 21

How We Fall Apart

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How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao: Fans of One of Us is Lying and Crazy Rich Asians, How We Fall Apart is filled with blackmail, suspense surprising plot twists and deep secrets as it follows Nancy Luo’s friend group, who are considered suspects of the murder of a former friend. In order to prove their innocence, they must find the true killer and “The Proctor,” who’s tainting their reputation. August 3

These Toxic Things: A Thriller

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These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall: In her newest thriller, one woman is wrapped up in the terrifying path of a serial killer. Mickie Lambert’s job is to make digital scrapbooks for items that are dear to people. But after stumbling on peculiar objects left behind by a dead curio shop owner, Mickie gets sucked into a haunting and mysterious story. September 1

Next, here are anti-racist books, movies and documentaries to watch.

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