All are written by authors of color and all have main characters of color, who all happen to be girls and young women - not planned!
I didn't plan this either, but I'm also delighted by the diversity of genres - 1 memoir in verse, 2 realistic novels, 1 biography in verse, and 1 fantasy novel; and the fact that the settings include 4 countries: the U.S., Cambodia, England, and a fantasy China.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This much-lauded memoir in verse starts slow and builds almost imperceptibly in power as a young girl comes into her own, discovering her dream: to be a writer.
In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddi Ratner
Raami is 7 when the Khmer Rouge take over Phnom Penh and her family is forced from their home into the countryside. Told through Raami's perceptive eyes, the story follows the family through the next four years, with threads of exquisite beauty woven throughout the tapestry of unspeakable horrors perpetuated by Pol Pot's brutal regime.
She Wore Red Trainers by Na'aima Roberts
Ali and Asmirah are teenagers trying to follow deen, the straight path of devout Muslims, when they meet in a working-class community outside London. Their love story, told from alternating points of view, is sweet, conflicted and real, giving the reader a rare opportunity to glimpse contemporary Muslim life from the inside, in all its complexity.
Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Soft, rich sepia-and-white drawings with bits of color illustrate this biography in verse, which follows the singer from her birth in 1915, as Eleanora Fagan, through her difficult, neglected childhood, to her triumph as the 25-year-old Lady Day.
Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
When Ay Ling's father is gone far too long, she leaves her mother to travel to the capital in search of him. The appearance of terrifying demons makes it clear that her quest to save her father playing out on a far larger canvas. Joined by the handsome Chen Yong and his kid brother, Ay Ling journeys to the home of the Immortals and back.
It's not part of this particular challenge because the main character is white, but I also read Bone by Bone by Bone by Tony Johnston, about a boy coming of age in 1950s small-town Tennessee and his deep friendship with a black boy, over his father's virulent objections. It's full of rich characters who tug at your heart with their humanness and contradictions, and conveys a palpable sense of menace in both the omnipresent racism and in the expected roles for men of that place and time.