The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

United States

Child by Judy Goldman

In her lovely memoir, Judy Goldman reflects on what it was like to be a young Jewish girl raised by a Black nanny in the 1940s and 50s south. Mattie Culp became a part of the Kurtz family: sleeping in young Judy’s bedroom, using the family bathroom, celebrating holidays with them—things unheard of in the Jim Crow south. Now in her 80s, Goldman reflects on what Mattie had to give up—including her own child—in order to make the Kurtz family’s life so much easier.

Child by Judy Goldman, (List Price: $28, University of South Carolina Press, 9781643362830, May 2022)

Reviewed by Linda Hodges of Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean

Tokyo Dreaming is a breathtaking story that is so vividly written you will feel like you are walking next to Izumi as she navigates imperial life. Izumi has overcome so many challenges since discovering that her father is the Crown Prince Makotonomiya Toshihito of Japan. The transition from normal small town girl to Imperial princess has been difficult. Now Izumi’s mom has joined her in Japan, and they are living the happy family life that Izumi always dreamed of with her father. When Izumi’s father proposes to her mom, everyone is thrilled for the life that is to come. Everyone, except the Imperial council who has their doubts about the match. Izumi decides she will do whatever it takes to make sure her mom and dad have their happily ever after. But what will it cost her? Her future happiest, her friends, or even the true love of her life. Tokyo Dreaming continues the story that began with Tokyo Ever After. Perfect for fans of Sarah Kuhn’s I love you so Mochi, Katherine McGee’s American Royal, or Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries.

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250766632, May 2022)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

Ahmed masterfully weaves together so many difficult topics that it’s hard to say what this book is about in any concise way. It’s painful, it’s beautiful, it’s haunting. It shines a light on horrific topics with sensitivity and grace and does so through the lens of two characters that are some of the most realistic I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Safiya didn’t really know Jawad, and she still felt the pain of his loss deeply. Upon finishing this book, I too feel his loss as if I knew him. I cannot remember ever reading a book so impactful, so relevant, and so emotionally gripping. If I had my way, everyone would read this book

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed, (List Price: $18.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316282642, May 2022)

Reviewed by tee arnold, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Catalina Incognito by Jennifer Torres

Catalina Incognito is the first book in what’s sure to be a charming new chapter book series. Gifted with a magic sewing kit on her eighth birthday, shy and reserved Catalina learns about taking chances and trying again — and also solves the mystery of her aunt’s missing ruby. I loved the way Spanish phrases are mixed in throughout the book..

Catalina Incognito by Jennifer Torres, Gladys Jose (illus.), (List Price: $5.99, Aladdin, 9781534482784,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López

When the world is too boring or too hard or too angry for them, a brother and sister are reminded by their very wise grandmother that somewhere in the world somebody else felt the same way. This stunningly illustrated (by Rafael López) masterpiece from Jacqueline Woodson, former Ambassador for Children’s Literature, highlights the power of the imagination and encourages young readers to believe in something, leave troubles behind, and imagine a better world.

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López, (List Price: $18.99, Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780399545535, January 2022)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds, Jason Griffin (Illustrator)

A beautiful and unconventional book capturing what the year 2020 felt like to the youngest child of a fictional Black American family, told in three long sentences and a notebook’s worth of art. Haunting and gorgeous, the unnamed narrator’s observations speak powerfully to a wide range of emotions, from the despair felt watching the world crumble and seeing the country’s betrayal of its Black citizens, to the balm that family connections can provide in the darkest times.

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds, Jason Griffin (Illustrator) (List Price: $19.99, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781534439467, January 2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell

These are the voices. The voices we need to hear, to represent the voices that need to be heard. This collection from fifteen influential Young Adult writers from the Latinx diaspora is the perfect launch pad for conversations and the perfect door to new ideas.

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250763426, November 2021)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 Project from Nikole Hannah-Jones asserts that to truly understand America today – politically, socially, culturally- and to begin to make repairs, you must move the timeline back to 1619, when the first enslaved people from Africa arrived in Jamestown. In this book – which is 50% more material than the original New York Times project – we hear from all the people who should have been included when initially taught American history and social studies. Herein lies a star-studded collection of thinkers, writers, poets and artists and an attempt to fully understand America’s origin story. Required reading for all who care to create a more just America.

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, (List Price: $38.00, One World, 9780593230572, November 2021)

Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina


Bluebird by Sharon Cameron

This provides rare insight into the life of a young German woman before, during and after WWI. Eva left her life in Berlin and came to the US seeking to fiil in the gaps in her childhood and youth. In her quest, fraught with unknown dangers, secrets and lies, she pushes forward to dispel the myths and face the horrors that she was unaware of in her past. A riveting story that reminds us of the cruel depravity that humans are capable of, and society’s responsibility to hold them accountable.

Bluebird by Sharon Cameron, (List Price: $18.99, Scholastic Press, 9781338355963, October 2021)

Reviewed by Belinda Hayes, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina


The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

Fans of GET OUT and SAWKILL GIRLS, prepare to meet Jake Livingston. Ryan Douglass’s debut is gritty and extremely tough to read at times, but with social issues at the forefront and a hero worth rooting for, THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON is a deep novel that holds back no punches. Queer, eerie, and heart-wrenching, Douglass takes his readers on an emotional rollercoaster through these horror events – both paranormal and real-life.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass, (List Price: 17.99, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 9781984812537, July 2021)

Reviewed by Brad Sells, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Scroll to Top