Book Review: Black Enough Edited by Ibi Zoboi

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A diverse collection of short stories, some of which I loved and some of which were average.

Book CWs

  • Racism
  • Homophobia
  • Bullying
  • Sexual Assault
  • Profanity/Strong language
  • Character death (mentioned)

Premise (From Goodreads)

Black Enough is a star-studded anthology edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi that will delve into the closeted thoughts, hidden experiences, and daily struggles of black teens across the country. From a spectrum of backgrounds—urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—Black Enough showcases diversity within diversity.

Whether it’s New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds writing about #blackboyjoy or Newbery Honor-winning author Renee Watson talking about black girls at camp in Portland, or emerging author Jay Coles’s story about two cowboys kissing in the south—Black Enough is an essential collection full of captivating coming-of-age stories about what it’s like to be young and black in America.

Review (No Spoilers)

As a mixed Black woman, the main reason I picked up this book was because I have gone a majority of my adult life being told and feeling like I’m not Black enough. I could go on and on about these experiences but it basically boils down to growing up in Hawaii–a place with a lot of ethnic minorities but admittedly very little Black people–with a Black father who actively worked to suppressed as much knowledge about Black culture from me as possible. Unfortunately for me, there were only two stories (I think…I have a very bad memory) in this book that dealt with mixed kids and as a result I don’t feel any more validated as a Black person than I did before reading it. It’s probably what hurt the most about this reading experience.

The book is a collection of 17 (if I counted right) short stories about what it means to be Black in America. And when I say, “what it means to be Black” all I mean is that each story has one or more Black protagonists. Some take deeper dives into race than others and they’re all about different people, written by different authors so there is a good variety when it comes to story type and writing style.

Because there are so many short stories in this book, it’s hard for me to try to talk about how/why I liked it. I will say that I definitely enjoyed certain stories a lot more than others. Some of my favorites were: Black Enough by Varian Johnson, Oreo by Brandy Colbert, Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles, and Hackathon Summers by Coe Booth. These stories were short but powerful and they left me feeling things that I can’t quite describe. You ever watch a movie or something and you get to the end and you’re just like wow that’s kind of how I felt.

I recommend that everyone take a look at this book. I think it’s particularly nice in that you don’t have to consume it all at once. You could set aside small portions of time to read one or two stories while saving the others for later. I do feel like I should warn you though that some of these stories don’t have “happy” endings. None of them have terribly bad endings or anything but you might get to an end and be left wondering ‘well what happens next?‘ and sometimes that was the beauty of it.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Black Enough Edited by Ibi Zoboi

  1. Writing short stories is an art, especially when the author is trying to give a strong message and move the reader. I glad there were some in this collection that you liked.

    Liked by 1 person

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