Saturday, July 31, 2010

let's play a game!

Inspired by Steph Su of Steph Su Reads latest post and Ari over at Reading in Color, let's examine the last 18 books I've reviewed to see how many people of color are in them. (I was going to do twenty but then I got lazy.)

~disclaimer: I have a bad memory so feel free to correct me if I get any of this wrong and include anyone I may have missed.

1. Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey - not that I recall, except for the blue vampires.

2. Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev - not that I recall. edit, from the author: " Re: Perchance to Dream... Sedna and the Scrimshander's backstory comes from Native American (Inuit) legend. The word "Caravanserai" is Persian/Turkish, with most of the people in the marketplace POC. And I pictured Ariel, from the very beginning, as Asian (something that got rendered on the second cover.)" Yeah I don't know my Native American legends or Persian words so I didn't pick up on that. xD

3. The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride - not that I recall.

4. The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell - not that I recall.

5. The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade - not that I recall.

6. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine - not that I recall. #emergingpatterns

7. Paisley Hanover Kisses and Tells by Cameron Tuttle - I know there's at least one African-American (am I allowed to say she's black? I always feel a bit odd about using that term but today I am using it because it does not take as long to type) minor character. If I remember correctly. I just don't know her name (note: I am worse with character names.)

8. Wolves, Boys, and Other Things that Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler - not that I recall but for some reason I want to say that there is?

9. Lifted by Wendy Toliver - one of the three main characters is black.

10. Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee - not that I recall but then again this book didn't stick in my mind very well.

11. Sea by Heidi R Kling - the book mostly takes place in Indonesia so obviously there are many Indonesian people. DENI!

12. Possessions by Nancy Holder - there's some minor characters. One girl is Asian and I think there's a Hispanic/Latina girl too.

13. Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone - the summary says the main girl is dark-skinned but I think she's Italian.

14. So Many Boys by Suzanne Young - don't really remember but I think there's at least one?

15. Mistwood by Leah Cypess - not that I recall.

16. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce - not that I recall, but there's only like 3 characters in this book that are mentioned enough for me to remember.

17. Wanted by Sara Shepard - all of the main girls are white but there's a bunch of minor characters in the series who aren't. (The most prominent POC minor character is Maya, who is black. But isn't Wren half Asian? I know he isn't on the show.)

18. Alison Dare series by J. Torres - one of Alison's best friends is black.

Possible morals of this post:

1. I pay even less attention to character descriptions than I thought, hence all the "not that I recall"s. (note: I tend to completely skip character descriptions because I am not interested in what color hair people have or what kind of indie band t-shirts they wear.)

2. Not many books I have read include POC. I should fix that.

3. The books do not clearly mention if any of the characters are POC.


  1. Re: Perchance to Dream... Sedna and the Scrimshander's backstory comes from Native American (Inuit) legend. The word "Caravanserai" is Persian/Turkish, with most of the people in the marketplace POC. And I pictured Ariel, from the very beginning, as Asian (something that got rendered on the second cover.)

  2. Ariel is Asian, you say? I thought he looked fey on the second cover, but I'm glad that's been corrected in my mind. Mmm...

  3. I always skip over character descriptions as well. But it might not be all you. It might be that POC are underrepresented in YA literature. It's what I think, anyway.

  4. It's really funny reading all these posts about ethnicity in YA because I'm reading Manifest by Artist Arthur and most of the characters are black (hopefully that term is acceptable). It's different from what I usually read, which has to be a good thing. Unfortunately the book is poorly executed.

  5. It's probably not PC to say but why does it matter? Can't all the books just be about people? Are we going to start having ethnic paranormals? Why can't we just enjoy a good story without the POC card being played?

  6. This post makes me happy and sad.

    I don't want to 'play the POC card', but I think that when Khy states that books do not clearly mention the ethnicity of the characters, it is important to note that many people (Poc at least) would assume these characters are white and that's not right. (didn't mean to rhyme, haha).

    I don't want to dictate anyone's reading but I do want to raise awareness about how people can unknowingly read bookple similar to themselves.

    This was an eye opening post. I didn't know about Ariel being Native american, I'm going to read Eyes Like Stars soon and that little fact has bumped it up a bit on my reading list.

    Sea was awesome!

  7. Lisa: I suggest reading the above linked Steph Su's post and some of Ari's posts linked on this page (:

    And I agree that books should just be about people, but books (and movies) usually take that idea and write/cast white people, which I don't think is right.

  8. lisa, i grew up loving fantasy and never reading a book where anyone was "like me". i have been writing creatively since before i was a teen and it wasn't until Silver Phoenix, when i was in my 30s that i first wrote a story with an asian protagonist.

    does it matter for children to read stories (at least some) that have people like themselves in it? yes, i do think it does.

    it's very nice to say "skin color doesn't matter" as an ideal. but in the real world, it does matter. and why shouldn't we work toward more diverse characters and cultural stories for children, teens and adult readers to enjoy?

    if this is playing the "poc card" so be it. i'll wave my card. =)

    and thanks for a great post, khy!