Book Recs: #OwnVoices of 2016!


My book recs posts, to me, are more than recommending books that I adore and hope to share with you. Recommending books is also a way for me to highlight truly great books that have meaningful stories to tell, an opportunity for me to help diversify your reading, and to celebrate books by authors of marginalized identities.

One of my regrets is that I didn’t commit myself to reading diversely earlier. Thinking about it now, I only started consciously choosing diverse books after I wrote my discussion post, My Problem With The World ‘Diverse’. From that discussion post alone, I found and met so many people who had an amazing passion and commitment to diversity. The rest is history!

Something I discovered along the way was this thing called #OwnVoices. In a nutshell, from Corinne Duyvis’s tweet: ‘, to recommend kidlit about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group.‘ Reading OwnVoices has opened up an entirely new world of reading – the world is brighter, more beautiful, and more profound.

For my last book recommendation of 2016, I want to highlight four fantastic #ownvoices books I read this year and were published in 2016.




This book easily made my all time favourites list. I am so glad I read this book. It illuminated the darkest corners of my mind.

  • A beautiful and poignant story about Vicky, following an attempt to take her own life, the recovery thereafter, and her ongoing struggle with depression.
  • Features an incredible cast of characters, mostly Hispanic, and the wonderful and quietly powerful Dr Desai, who is Indian.
  • Has a raw and honest exploration of mental illness, that intertwines with family pressures, grief, and school expectations.
  • Memory of Light is based on the author’s experiences with depression. (Be sure to read the Author’s Note!)

Find The Memory of Light on Goodreads.




If you haven’t heard how much I love this book, I’m going to tell you all again! I adored this book, and the bonus was that it is #ownvoices!

  • A wonderful story all about superheroes – even though the protagonist doesn’t have superpowers – and what it means to be great.
  • It has amazing, positive, and diverse representation! (I felt represented in this book!) All the characters are utterly loveable and memorable.
  • Has swoony crushes, gorgeous friendships, explores identity and heroism versus villainism.
  • Jess, the protagonist, is bi and Chinese/Viet, just like the wonderful author! Her voice shines brightly through the narrative and has so much authenticity.

Find Not Your Sidekick on Goodreads, or read my review.




I read this book for Latinx Heritage Month, and I am so glad I did! This was my first book with a Latinx protagonist (it won’t be my last!) and I enjoyed it so, so much.

  • An exciting and magical blend of fantasy and adventure; it tells of Alejandra, who is a bruja, and her quest to Los Lagos to save her family.
  • The story features a matriarchy of Latina witches and dark magic, and explores family, belonging, and identity.
  • It has healthy bisexual representation and excellent cultural representation!
  • The mythos from Labyrinth Lost is based on Latinx culture, Mexican holidays, and the author’s own experiences growing up!

Find Labyrinth Lost on Goodreads, or read my review.




Halfway into this book, I knew it would be in my top four OwnVoices books of this year. I rushed to finish it yesterday, just so I could recommend it to you all! (I’ll be writing a two-part review for this next year!)

  • A heartfelt and funny story about a black teen who hates her blackness and prays to be white – only for her wish to be granted.
  • This book is more than what it presents at face-value; underneath its light narrative is thoughtful and subtle discourse on how people of colour internalized this hate for who we are, the invisible but visceral hurt we feel, and how Toya overcomes this.
  • Explores family, siblinghood, friendship, self-love as a form of resistance, and a celebration of inner beauty and black beauty.
  • The story is based on the author’s own experiencesthe results are raw and powerful.

Find Into White on Goodreads.


If you haven’t tried reading an #ownvoices book yet, I wholeheartedly recommend it! I love the voices in #ownvoices books – they always shine bright and strong and there’s a palpable sense of pure authenticity too. The books I’ve recommended are amazing starts, and if you’re looking for more, keep an eye on my Diversity 🌈 page, which I am constantly updating.

I hope you guys have enjoyed my Book Recs posts this year! I love, love, love writing them, so I will continue recommending more books in 2017!

  • What were some of your favourite OwnVoices books of 2016 – or ever?
  • If you have read an OwnVoices book before, what did you like about it?
  • How did it feel to read a book that had a character that had the same identity as you?

Friends, thank you as always for visiting! If you have any thoughts, comments, or book recommendations, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!

39 thoughts on “Book Recs: #OwnVoices of 2016!

  1. It’s only this year that I’ve realised that I don’t read very diversely, so I’m really making an effort to read more in 2017! I’ve added all of those to my tbr now. I’m especially excited for some bi own voices, because I’m bi myself and need more bi characters in my life :) So thanks for the recommendations!

    • Hi Laura!

      It’s my pleasure! I hope you enjoy them if you read them!

      Me too – I realized I haven’t read that many ownvoices books either, so I hope to read even more next year! Let’s change that together. 😊

  2. Great you’re becoming more of a diverse reader. I’ve never heard of OwnVoices until now. I already read as diverse as it gets, but I’ll participate in hopes of learning more.

    Thanks for the new knowledge.

  3. I have been reading #OwnVoices books for years, but never put a name to it until recently! My favorites this year include LaRose by Louise Erdrich, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, and Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid. And I plan on reading Labryinth Lost very soon, for #DiversityDecBingo!

    • Hi Alisia!

      That’s awesome! I wish I did, but that’s incredible that you’ve been reading them for so long now. I hope that one day I can look back and say that I’ve been proudly reading diverse and #ownvoices books for years.

      Thank you for your recs! 😊 I’ll be sure to check up on them! I hope you enjoy Labyrinth Lost! It’s a lovely, lovely book.

  4. HI friend! I have a question about the first book you mentioned, do you know where the characters are from? I ask because Hispanic just means “people who speak Spanish” and sometimes doesn’t really describe the identity of someone.

  5. I’m trying to start reading more diversely, so thank you sooo much for this post! I’ll be reading Labyrinth Lost for the #DAReadAThon and I can’t wait!

      • Thanks! I’m looking forward to it! It’s not that I’ve specifically chosen to not read as diversely as I’d like to in the past… it’s just that I look back at what I’ve read and there’s not as much diversity as I’d like. So hoping to change that this year!! Any and all recommendations always appreciated!

        • I know what you mean! I was the same. I chose my books based on whatever was available (I’m a big library user), but now I am actively seeking good diverse books.

          Yay, awesome! All the best for 2017! You’ll do awesome! ❤

    • Hi Rose!

      Not Your Sidekick is fantastic! According to the author, there will be three books in the series, with some short stories too! The first book can almost work as a standalone though, as the second book is about another character! 😊

  6. Great post, CW! I haven’t read any of these books, but Into White and Not Your Sidekick are both on my list and I’m keen to get to them sometime next year. I also plan to do recommendations posts and I hope I’m at least half as coherent as you are here later on! <3

    • Hi Reg!
      Yay, great choices! I’m SUPER excited for you to read Not Your Sidekick! I really hope you enjoy it. 😊
      AH YES. Your recs are always on point! I can’t wait to read them. And ssssh you are ELOQUENT.

  7. Not Your Sidekick is certifiably BRILLIANT! Couldn’t agree more about it! Some of my upcoming diverse reads include The Wrath and the Dawn and Two Boys Kissing – along with many others!

    • YAY, Wendy! I’m so happy you liked Not Your Sidekick!! 😊
      Oooh TWATD is an interesting one – I suggest reading criticisms of the book after reading it, because whilst I enjoyed the book very much, there were some *hmmm* moments (not about the book’s cultural rep though).
      All the best with your reading!! I’m very excited for you and I hope you discover some fantastic books!

  8. I’m so happy that you loved The Memory Of Light! It’s such a special book and I hope many teens read it when they need it most. Glad to see Labyrinth Lost on your list as well. I’m super stoked for the sequel. :D
    And as I said before, I look forward to your thorough and thoughtful review of Into White. This book needs more attention!

    • Well, I want to thank YOU, Naz, because I discovered The Memory of Light through your post for LHM. 😊 I hope so too. I think it’ll be the book I recommend for people who want to read about teens with mental illnesses – it’s imperfect, but it is one of the most honest books about mental health I’ve read so far.

      Thanks! I look forward to writing about it! I’m really sad that the top review in GR for Into White overlooked the good parts of the book, and I felt like the main point of the review was that it didn’t align with the reviewer’s expectations??? I mean, it didn’t align with mine either – I thought it was much better than what I expected. *sips tea*

  9. I’m always looking for more diverse books, so thank you so much for sharing these recommendations. I’ve already put them all on hold at the library! :)

    • Hi Zoe!

      You’re very welcome! Glad to have helped. :D I’m definitely going to try and read more diversely next year, so I’ll be sure to keep up the recommendations!

      YAY! Let me know when you read them! I’d looooove to hear your thoughts!

  10. Loved your recommendations CW! I have been wanting to get my hands on Labyrinth Lost since I first laid eyes on it. I hope to get myself a copy and read in early 2017.

    I’ve not heard of Into White. Have you read Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn? It has some similar themes. Here Comes the Sun was my favorite #OwnVoices book that I’ve read this year :)

    • Hi Amanda!

      Thank you so much! 😊 Labyrinth Lost is wonderful – particularly so for me because I had never read a book with a Latinx protagonist before, so it was truly memorable! I hope you do too – and let me know what you think about it when you read it! :D

      I have! I looked it up and judging from the reviews, it looks like a great book. Thank you for the rec!! I’ve added it to my tbr and will be sure to read it sometime! Thanks Amanda! ❤

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