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Their Eyes Were Watching God 

by Zora Neale Hurston

It takes Janie a while to discover her own voice in a society that has ignored her as both a woman and an African American. This novel follows her through various relationships and stages of her life that allow her to realize what she values in companionship and what she values in herself. 

I enjoyed this book because it is not like every other coming of age novel. It focuses on Janie's hopefulness and courage and how this leads her to find a solid understanding of herself while overcoming tragedy. It deals with themes such as fear, love, ambition, and femininity.

I would absolutely recommend this book. Though set in the early 1900's, the themes are still completely relevant to today. For this reason, I believe that most people will enjoy reading this novel. 

Juila, 18

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Invisible Man 

by Ralph Ellison

Image result for invisible man ralph ellisonThis novel is based in the 1950's and follows the journey of an African American man, who remains unnamed, trying to succeed in a primarily "white" community. He realizes through many challenges he is "invisible" to society.

In my opinion this book was very bad and the only reason I read it was because of school. This book had a lot of adult content.

I do not recommend this book to anyone under 16 years of age. This book has a lot of sexual content including rape and incest. It also shows how poorly African American's were treated in the early 20th century.

Emily, 16

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 

by Rebecca Skloot
08/19/2017 Categories: african americans cancer non-fiction

In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot tells the true story of how the cells of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman with cervical cancer, were extracted and preserved by doctors without her consent. Lacks' cells were the first cells that were able to reproduce infinitely in a lab setting, therefore earning the name "immortal cells." These "immortal" cells of Henrietta Lacks were nicknamed "HeLa" cells by scientists and they were crucial to the development of new medicine for cancer as well as other illnesses. Using the story of Henrietta Lacks, Skloot writes about the clash between the progress of medicine and ethics. 

I started reading this book for my AP Biology class and I was so sure that it was going to take a long time to finish it. However, the whole entire time, I felt like I was watching a movie (which I really liked). I was so surprised by all the detail because it would have taken Rebecca Skloot a long time to interview all the people involved and research all the events that took place. The acquirement of HeLa cells were very controversial: Henrietta's status as a black citizen made it easier for doctors to use her for research purposes, the Lacks' family did not receive a dime for their contribution to the progress of medicine, and Henrietta died without even a headstone to mark her grave. Skloot includes all of these little details in this book to get the readers to weigh the pros and cons of these injustices committed against a family.

I believe that everyone should read Skloot's books. There are so many crazy things that happened in the world that I didn't know about. I think that reading this book has helped me gain more knowledge of how doctors and scientists were back then. What's ironic is that these doctors were trying to help their society, but in doing so they deceived and manipulated their patients. Even though I didn't get any closure regarding the controversy over HeLa cells from this book, I was able to better understand how the world has changed from the 50's. I recommend this book to everyone, not just people interested in science. It will really open your eyes on the issues of our world.

Heejeong, 18

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Their Eyes Were Watching God 

by Zora Neale Hurston
05/10/2017 Categories: african americans friendship identity

The book is set in Florida in the early 20th century. It's focused on a teenage girl named Janie Crawfords. Throughout the book she claims she expects more form life but realizes she has to find out for herself what she should expect.

I really liked this book because it dealt with gender roles. I though it was important that it talked about woman wanting to have more rights and do more things they want to that only men are allowed to do.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading books that deal with finding your own identity. Also if you like reading  about women being free and doing what they want and the value of women, I suggest this book.

Sandra, 16

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To Kill a Mockingbird 

by Harper Lee

To Kill a MockingbirdThe book is about the Finch family taking on a court case. Supposedly a black man raped a white woman and it caused a big stir because some people believed he was innocent.

I liked it because it was in a way fighting racism. Back in the 30's a white man's word was always right over a black man's word but Atticus did not care and still took on the case.

I would recommend it to others who like sort of old timely books. I would also recommend it to people who like books on fighting racism.

Sabrina, 14

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To Kill a Mockingbird 

by Harper Lee

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird is set during the Great Depression and also revolves around racism in the South. Scout Finch is the narrator and the main character who grows up in the segregated South. Her brother, Jem, their friend, Dill, and she are all intrigued by story of Boo Radley, a young man who has been prisoner in his house for multiple years. When their father, a lawyer, takes on a court case defending a black man accused of raping a white woman, their world changes.  

The book follows their lives and proves the theme that you can't judge a person unless you have been in their shoes. I thought the book was interesting in the way of how segregated the community was. It was a good story with an underlying theme and multiple conflicts. Overall, Harper Lee did a fantastic job of portraying the South.

I would recommend it because it has a good message of not judging a person until you have experienced what they have been through. People of all ages would enjoy this novel.

Chanel, 14

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To Kill A Mockingbird 

by Harper Lee

To Kill a MOckingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird is about fictional character named Scout narrating from an adult perspective about something that happened during her childhood. Her story has two main plots: one about she, her brother, and their friend trying to learn more about Boo Radley, a man who has nasty rumors made about him and never leaves his home; and another about the court case in which an African American man named Tom Robinson is convicted for accused rape.

I thought the book was okay overall, because I enjoyed the suspense of the court case, but some other elements of the story seemed bland, or just were not relatable to me in my generation. For example, the scenes with Scout in school did not interest me much, for it had too much detail of a simple elementary school classroom.

I would recommend this book to adults who were around when it was written, since it would relate more to their generation. Also I would relate it to anyone who enjoys exciting court cases, since the court scenes are gripping and exciting.

Hayley, 15

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Invisible Man 

by Ralph Ellison
02/19/2013 Categories: african americans classic racism

Invisible manThis book was an extremely confusing narrative about a black man's life during a time when blacks were still struggling against racism. He is more educated than most black men but is thrown out of his school and forced to go North for a job, where he gets caught up in an organization. He thinks a lot about what he does and is a very powerful speaker. However, he decides that he is truly invisible.

I suppose I moderately liked the book, however, it was hard to grasp at times. Nonetheless, it did get me thinking about the deep concepts it was trying to convey. The only reason I would recommended this book is because it is a famous piece of literature that appears frequently on the AP exam. I would expect that people who like to think deeply about society would like it.

Jordan, 1ing7

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The Chamber 

by John Grisham

ChamberThis book takes place back in 1967 when the KKK was bombing the houses and offices of black and Jewish people. The book is about a grandson named Adam Hall who tries to save his grandfather that he barely knew and is going to be gassed for bombing an office and killing two little boys. Adam tries everything he can to save his grandfather, but he fails and his grandfather gets gassed.

This book was very good because it talks about history. It is interesting to read and learn about what happened to murderers during 1967.

I would recommend this book to people who are interested in history and want to know more about what happened in the 1900's

Josh, 15

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The Help 

by Kathryn Stockett

The Help coverThe Help is about two black women who are maids in the 1960's and a young white lady who wants to create a book about the lives of the maids in Jackson, Mississippi. There is still segregation in town but it doesn't stop these women from writing their book in secret. These three women's destinies change with the work of a book that tells about the hard work of the black maids in white homes.

I personally loved the book because it tells you the points of view of the black maids and the young lady who was taken care of as a child by a black maid. It made me cry in the end which was very moving. It shows how racism was in the 1960's and how brutally those maids were treated.

This book has a little of everything. There is humor, romance, drama, history, and mystery. I really enjoyed The Help by Katheryn Stockett, and I hope you will too.

Carina, 14

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The Cay 

by Theodore Taylor
12/12/2012 Categories: african americans survival stories

The Cay coverThis book takes place around the time of World War II. It involves a boy named Philip who one day goes on a boat back to Virginia with his mother. The boat sinks and the boy ends up surviving being trapped on an island with an African man and his cat. He then has to survive through starvation, thirst, and a hurricane, waiting for rescue.

I liked this book quite a bit. It was written very well. I found it very easy to get into and it was a pretty easy read.

I would recommend this book to others. I'm sure they would have a good and easy time reading it. People who would most like it would be ones that like the thought of surviving on a deserted island.

Kevin, 14

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The Help 

by Kathryn Stockett
08/13/2012 Categories: african americans friendship inspirational

The Help coverThe Help is about a white woman named Skeeter helping African-American maids get their voice heard. This book is set in the early 1960's, where the risk of Africans speaking out is extremely dangerous.

I liked this book, because it gave insight on what it was like to be both a white, and an African person during this time, instead of just one group's perspective.

I would recommend this book to everyone, but especially to those who like reading about historical and inspirational books.

Alexis, 15

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The Color Purple 

by Alice Walker

The Color Purple might be a violent and challenging book; however, it has a very rich and deep meaning. Celie has become one of my favorite woman characters because of all she has endured in her life. Having to suffer seeing her two children taken from her at a young age and seen as subordinates, Celie still has hope in God. Woman are just as strong as men.

This book is an inspiration to a lot of woman who are suppressed by men. Celie is one of those characters you get very close and by the end of the book I was wishing it wouldn't end. Celie assumes her sister is dead after not hearing from her for years. The Color Purple has many twists and a very shocking ending.

I would recommend this book to older readers who want a challenge - it's an amazing book but is very explicit and has a lot of violent scenes. This book also has many racial and gender arguments and ventures into an era when women didn't wear pants and were looked upon as a man's property. The tile can be seen as a symbol throughout the story and is told like if you were reading through an old journal. Remember the reason this book is a challenge is because the speaker, Celie was learning how to write.

Lauren, 16

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