GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — February is Black History Month and if you're looking to broaden your horizons and read material written by Black authors or featuring Black stories -- check out these top picks from Bryan Uecker from the Book Nook and Java Shop. 

Ueckers selection features all kinds of stories perfect for all-ages.

Adult Fiction: The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott

"The World Doesn’t Require You" announces the arrival of a generational talent, as Rion Amilcar Scott shatters rigid genre lines to explore larger themes of religion, violence, and love—all told with sly humor and a dash of magical realism.

Established by the leaders of the country’s only successful slave revolt in the mid-nineteenth century, Cross River still evokes the fierce rhythms of its founding. In lyrical prose and singular dialect, a saga beats forward that echoes the fables carried down for generations—like the screecher birds who swoop down for their periodic sacrifice, and the water women who lure men to wet deaths.

Among its residents—wildly spanning decades, perspectives, and species—are David Sherman, a struggling musician who just happens to be God’s last son; Tyrone, a ruthless PhD candidate, whose dissertation about a childhood game ignites mayhem in the neighboring, once-segregated town of Port Yooga; and Jim, an all-too-obedient robot who serves his Master. As the book builds to its finish with Special Topics in Loneliness Studies, a fully-realized novella, two unhinged professors grapple with hugely different ambitions, and the reader comes to appreciate the intricacy of the world Scott has created—one where fantasy and reality are eternally at war.

Contemporary and essential, "The World Doesn’t Require You" is a “leap into a blazing new level of brilliance” (Lauren Groff) that affirms Rion Amilcar Scott as a writer whose storytelling gifts the world very much requires.

Adult Non-Fiction – BOOK CLUB BOOK: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

“[Bryan Stevenson’s] dedication to fighting for justice and equality has inspired me and many others and made a lasting impact on our country.”—John Legend

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY CNN • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction • Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction • Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award • Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize • An American Library Association Notable Book

Local:  Wild Women of Michigan by Norma Lewis
Countless Michiganian women performed extraordinary acts that challenged and improved the world. Madame Marie-Therese Cadillac served as the medicine woman in the frontier that became Detroit. Annie Taylor survived rolling over Niagara Falls in a barrel. After suffragist Anna Howard Shaw fought to vote, the state saw an influx of women running for office. In the 1970s, East Lansing's Patricia Beeman aided in efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. Suellen Finatri showcased an extreme side of equestrian sports by riding more than four thousand miles from St. Ignace to Skagway, Alaska. And World War II army flight nurse Aleda Lutz evacuated more than 3,500 wounded soldiers and is still recognized as one of America's most decorated servicewomen. Author and historian Norma Lewis commemorates the women who boldly left their marks.

Young Adult: Clean Getaway by Nic Stone 
From New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes a middle-grade road-trip story through American race relations past and present, perfect for Black History Month and for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Jason Reynolds.

How to Go on an Unplanned Road Trip with Your Grandma:

Grab a Suitcase: Prepacked from the big spring break trip that got CANCELLED.

Fasten Your Seatbelt: G'ma's never conventional, so this trip won't be either.

Use the Green Book: G'ma's most treasured possession. It holds history, memories, and most important, the way home.

What Not to Bring:

A Cell Phone: Avoid contact with Dad at all costs. Even when G'ma starts acting stranger than usual.

Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with New York Times bestselling Nic Stone and an eleven-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn't always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren't always what they seem—his G'ma included. Real historical elements like the Green Book, the subject and namesake of the recent Oscar winning film, make this an educational and powerful read.

Children: I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer
We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this New York Times Bestselling picture book biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer.

Even as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by the terrible and unfair way African-American people were treated. When he grew up, he decided to do something about it—peacefully, with powerful words. He helped gather people together for nonviolent protests and marches, and he always spoke up about loving other human beings and doing what’s right. He spoke about the dream of a kinder future, and bravely led the way toward racial equality in America.

This lively, New York Times Bestselling biography series inspires kids to dream big, one great role model at a time. You’ll want to collect each book.

Information courtesy of Bryan Uecker. Find these titles and more at the Book Nook & Java Shop, located at 8744 Ferry St. in Montague or online at www.thebooknookjavashop.com.

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