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Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America

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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 Newberry 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.

416 pages, ebook

First published January 8, 2019

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About the author

Ibi Zoboi

27 books2,247 followers
Ibi Zoboi's debut novel American Street was a National Book Award finalist. She is also the New York Times Bestselling author of Pride, My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, and Punching the Air with co-author and Exonerated Five member, Yusef Salaam. She is the editor of the anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. Born in Haiti and raised in New York City, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three children.

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5 stars
2,097 (34%)
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31 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,153 reviews
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.2k followers
June 6, 2020
I don't usually pick up anthologies, but I'm so happy I did!
The book aims to explore, as Ibi Zoboi puts it in her introduction, "What are the cultural threads that connect Black people all over the world to Africa? How have we tried to maintain certain traditions as part of our identity? And as teenagers, do we even care? These are the questions I had in mind when inviting sixteen other Black authors to write about teens examining, rebelling against, embracing, or simply existing within their own idea of Blackness."
I enjoyed that each story had the common thread of exploring the main character's relationship with their race, but the execution was totally different. There is a story for everyone. You want a gay cowboy romance? A somber piece following the death of a loved one? An almost-time-traveling story? There's all that and more.
Of course, being a collection of short stories, there were still several stories that felt rushed or not fleshed out all the way. I think they would have worked as full-length novels instead.
All in all, I recommend!
Profile Image for chloe.
242 reviews28.3k followers
June 6, 2020
i loved this!!! i think this was the best anthology i've ever read. i loved all the stories and i had such a good time listening to the audiobook. the audiobook also had different narrators for each story which i loved. i highly recommend this!
Profile Image for Jay Coles.
Author 17 books470 followers
July 10, 2018
January 16, 2019
I read Young Adult (YA). Yes, I know. I'm someone's parent and should have left the subgenre behind. But, you know what? I enjoy stories - period - and many of them come from YA.

However, there's an issue plaguing YA's publishing - the lack of young adult and teen voices within non-stereotypical stories. Readers often see stories featuring Cis-gendered (those born where their bodies match their gender), straight, white males and females. Sadly, this behavior leads to cliched stories recycled and one or two perspectives displayed as societal defaults. Few stories offer stories regarding black or biracial teens on either side of the sexuality and class spectrum. 

Imagine being a kid, teen, or young adult with cherry-picked options. To experience your voice left astray feels maligning. 

Fortunately, Ibi Zoboi gathered some of YA's best authors to give voice to the voiceless in Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. This short story anthology showcases a spectrum of young black life in America. Biracial. LGBTQA. Rich. Poor. Middle-class. Urban. Rural. Suburban. American-born. Immigrant.

Everyone's represented.

From Brandy Colbert's "Oreo", a tale of a young girl's "outsider" status when he visits family. It's a story echoed in "Black Enough" by Varian Johnson, where a young boy ventures into the same territory. In "Kissing Sarah Smart", by Justina Ireland, a biracial and bisexual teen meets another girl while home for the summer and her sexuality blossoms. Grief and Depression permeates the story, "The Trouble with Drowning", written by Dhonielle Clayton. 

On the other hand, there are light and airy stories included also. "The Ingredients" by Jason Reynolds, ushers a tale of hungry boys and a hot summer's day, whereas "Hackathon Summers" focuses on a boy's coming of age via a computer science event. 

This anthology welcomes many readers, black and non-black alike, to witness tales of ordinary and, at times, extraordinary, kids and teens figuring themselves out like any other YA book. What makes it special is that these stories deserve equal footing, so often ignored. 

1. Stories for everyone, no matter the spectrum of life
2. LGBTQA representation
3. Many stories are fast-paced and engaging
4. Real dialogue, believable plots, and characterization

1. With any short story anthology, not all stories hit glory. There are some clunkers, but they are few in number.

"Black Enough" - Varian Johnson ☆☆☆☆
"Warning: Colour May Fade" - Leah Henderson ☆☆☆☆
"Black. Nerd. Problems" - Lamar Giles ☆☆☆
"Out of the Silence" - Kekla Magoon ☆☆☆☆
"The Ingredients" - Jason Reynolds ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
"Oreo" - Brandy Colbert ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
"Samson and the Delilahs" by Tochi Onyebuchi ☆☆☆
"Stop Playing" - Liara Tamani ☆☆☆
"Wild Horses, Wild Hearts - Jay Coles ☆☆☆☆☆
"Whoa!" - Rita Williams ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
"Gravity" - Tracey Baptiste ☆☆☆☆☆
"The Trouble With Drowning" by Dhonielle Clayton ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
"Kissing Sarah Smart" - Justina Ireland ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)
"Hackathon Summers" - Coe Booth ☆☆☆
"Into the Starlight" - Nic Stone ☆☆☆☆☆
"The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones" - Ibi Zoboi ☆☆☆☆☆ (Favorite!)

Verdict: ☆☆☆☆½/☆☆☆☆☆. Let's be real. I'm rounding this up to ☆☆☆☆☆. Grab a copy of this book for your personal and/or school libraries.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,727 reviews6,662 followers
January 8, 2019
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America is a young adult short-story anthology edited by Ibi Zoboi. In the introduction, Zoboi expresses her vision for this collection. She writes,
“What are the cultural threads that connect Black people all over the world to Africa? How have we tried to maintain certain traditions as part of our identity? And as teenagers, do we even care? These are the questions I had in mind when inviting sixteen other Black authors to write about teens examining, rebelling against, embracing, or simply existing within their own idea of Blackness.”
This collection showcases the diversity within diversity. It shows teens as camp counselors, geeks, bonding over music, craving good food after an afternoon of swimming, using art as a form of self-expression, and considering colleges. It also shows teens processing grief, sexuality, manipulation versus love, blended families, mental health issues, rape culture, and knowing who you are beneath the code-switching. It offers the talent of 16 different writers who each bring something unique to this anthology. Set all over the United States and with a variety of demographics and identities, these stories present an eclectic picture of teens who are screaming, “This is my story. This is my truth.”

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America will no doubt succeed in Zoboi's goal of encouraging Black teens “to be their free, uninhibited selves without the constraints of being Black, too Black, or not Black enough. They will simply be enough just as they are.” Check it out.
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
812 reviews154 followers
February 13, 2019
I'm reading this book for CONTEMPORARY-A-THON Day #2 and For the Challenge " Read a book with blue or purple on the cover "

I think this is the best collection of short stories I’ve read in a very long, seeing how it shows the diversity in the black community by depicting the lives of different characters with care and honesty. The stories are all different but feels connected somehow, from ones who deal with serious problems like racism, sexual assault, Homophobia and the loss of a loved one to the ones that are more hopeful, casual or romantic, they showcase different lives, different hopes and different young black people going through their lives, the mundane and the epic.

I really recommend reading this one, it’s beautiful, it’s romantic, it’s bold and daring and more than anything it's authentic. Like any collection, there are stories that I absolutely loved and there are ones, not so much but overall, a great read.

1) Half a moon : 3 stars

Most times we only see part of a thing, but there’s always more to see, more to know.

Okay, My problem with this one is how anticlimactic and how unfinished it felt for me. I don’t know but I wanted more depth but I must keep in mind that it’s a really short story so there is not enough space for a lot of development but I think the author did a good job with depictions of bullying, courage and complicated siblings relationships and projecting our feelings on the wrong person and how wrong that is. I just wanted more out of all that.

2) Black enough : 4 stars

This one was so hard-hitting in the most subtle ways. I really loved it from start to finish and I understood every character but I really felt for Cameron and how he thinks he’s not black enough because he doesn’t talk a certain way or love certain things making him enable to fit.

I knew what kids called me behind my back. An Oreo. A Black boy trying to be white. I wasn’t hard enough. Hood enough. Woke enough.

Black enough takes place mostly in a party and the conversation Cameron had with another character was so sobering yet so hard on him that it was emotional. The ending was absolutely perfect, there’s acknowledgment in that final sentence that’s the result of everything was said and done in the short story.

3) Warning : Color May Fade : 5 stars

This is my favorite so far, absolutely beautiful and important with a superb writing style and well written characters. I loved everything about this short story and I wanted so much for it to be a full length novel so I can immerse myself in its beauty. Art, Self discovery and Embracing your truth are the themes of this short story and they were depicted in the most authentic way possible.

4) Black nerd problems : 2 stars

This story sadly went over my head, I can’t even tell what it is about.

5) Out of the silence : 3 stars

This short story is really sad, tragic and a little depressing I may say. The ending was heartbreaking, The last sentence in particular, I didn’t really see it coming but maybe I should have. Between knowing deep down who you are and feeling relief that maybe you don’t have to acknowledge because you’re not sure or you’re afraid is heartbreaking for me.

6) The ingredients : 3 stars

I don’t know what to say about this one, it was super casual to me. Like black nerd problems (story N°4), It definitely went over my head a little bit. But I still liked how it’s about a group friends just living their lives, it was real in how normal it felt

7) Oreo : 4 stars

The main character in this one deals with people telling her how she’s not black enough because of her different life style and it’s really hurting her deeply, especially when it comes from the people closest to you.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been told I was Black on the outside and white on the inside, but I never expected to hear it from my own family.

I really liked this one so much; It deals with how judging people can lead to missing on something incredible like being close to someone and realizing how similar you are.

8) Samson and the delilahs : 4 stars

I liked this one very much, it actually took me by surprise cause It made me emotional, I guess I’m always moved by characters stumbling onto something unexpected and have that something change them in more ways than one.

9) Stop playing : 4 stars

There is something deeply sad about this one from girls having to do uncomfortable things so they can appease their boyfriends to wasting the chance for something beautiful, there is something deeply touching and melancholic especially about those final sentences.

10) Wild horses, wild hearts : 5 stars

Oh, I loved this one with everything in me, It’s beautiful, hopeful and romantic and yet it still deals with important topics like homophobia and racism. It’s written in this way that opens the heart and soul and fills them with love despite the toxic surroundings of the two main characters. I loved it

11) Whoa : 3 stars

This one was okay, It actually took me out of this collection a little bit with the time travel twist but overall, a good short story. It felt little out pf place because of that twist but it certainly belongs

12) Gravity : 5 stars

This short story deals mainly with sexual assaults like never before, It was too clever, too hard-hitting and too raw with a phenomenal narration that makes you angry, disoriented and sad.

You wonder if all encounters of attraction are meant to be collisions. If there is no way anyone walks away unharmed.

13) The trouble with drowning : 3 stars

This one confused at first but after awhile it clicked for me. I liked it well enough and as a story that deals with grief and the loss of a loved one and how it changes something deep within us, it was pretty good. It just was a little predictable once it clicked.

14) Kissing Sarah smart : 5 stars

I loved this one so much, it packs so much of a story into those few pages and it feels effortless. It really felt like a full length novel to me because so much happens and so much is discussed. This is one of the best in this collection; dealing with the stigma of depression, living in the moment and choosing what makes us happy without worrying how others will judge, it’s an important story to read.

15) Hakathon summers : 3 stars

I’m conflicted about this one, I think it seriously lacks the nuance it needed. I think it tried to do a lot of things at the same time and it failed to handle them with care. And maybe some choices doesn’t always have to do with a guy, maybe it’s more complicated than that. I don’t know, It didn’t deliver for me.

16) Into the starlight : 4 stars

There is something so sweet about this one; I had this smile on my face reading the interactions of the two characters. But it was also sobering; there is talk of abortion, teen pregnancy and judging people without knowing anything about them. The balance was done really well, I loved it.

17) The revolution of Nigeria Jones : 5 stars

I think this is the perfect short story to conclude this collection, powerful and steady with hope and great friendship. I loved its final sentence and what it meant, I loved the character journey into discovering and living freely even for a night.

And now to finish this review, I’m gonna leave you with this quote from Ibi Zoboi’s introduction of the collection:

Like my revolutionary ancestors who wanted Haiti to be a safe space for Africans all over the globe, my hope is that Black Enough will encourage all Black teens to be their free, uninhibited selves without the constraints of being Black, too Black, or not Black enough. They will simply be enough just as they are.
Profile Image for chantel nouseforaname.
628 reviews312 followers
February 9, 2019
There’s an underlying thread of what seems to be class privilege in these stories. The way that black class privilege feels and is presented in some of these stories is odd to me. Even though I think it‘s a necessary thing to see black teens filling all the various spaces we fill and not having to deal with poverty in every single situation or every story.

The title story Black Enough by Varian Johnson was dope! Black. Nerd. Problems. was also a great contribution and felt very much like the film Sorry To Bother You. Samson & the Delilahs was lit! It represented a not typically heard of story of black teen involvement/induction into heavy metal music. Out of the Silence, The Ingredients & Oreo all feature stories that are from a particular new breed of black people that I like to call "Money Black" — slightly uppity, I almost said wannabe-white haha! but what I really mean is rich bitch uppity.. Wild Horses, Wild Hearts — same thing, money black boy in a money black story rolling through the countryside falling in love with some racist white folks’ kid.

Overall, there was something off about the stories. Maybe it’s gift was it’s curse and these stories featuring affluence just felt a smidge too indulgent. Maybe that’s just what I see in these stories about black kids with money from different intersections trying to fit into the ideology of “what it means to be black”.. Real talks though, some stories were just not engaging enough to not feel like navel-gazing. It didn’t feel like the experiences described in some of these stories were unique-enough experiences to warrant the reader’s engagement.

It was kind of boring even when the highs were high, everything felt kind of dull. I can also see that maybe this book was full because it was YA and it just felt short for me as an adult? I dunno. It was just not doing it for me, even with the gems.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,211 followers
January 6, 2019
So, so many standout authors in this collection of stories of black teens by black authors. Some of the highlights in this collection for me were Renee Watson's "Half a Moon," Kekla Magoon's "Out of the Silence," "Oreo" by Brandy Colbert, "The Ingredients" by Jason Reynolds, "The (Re)volution of Nigeria Jones" by Ibi Zoboi (hello, black girl in a religious cult seeking an escape!), "Into the Starlight" by Nic Stone, and "Whoa!" by Rita Garcia-Williams. I guess that's half the anthology!

The pieces that didn't resonate with me so strongly were still well-written and engaging. The beauty of an anthology, of course, being that those stories will resonate deeply with other readers.

On the whole though? Black teens looking for breadth and depth of their experiences are going to be so happy here, and teens who aren't black -- be they white or other people of color -- will gain so much from how inclusive the voices are here. The reminder that there's not a single story or experience.
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,780 reviews1,625 followers
January 7, 2019
Black Enough, a compendium of seventeen short stories from a plethora of critically-acclaimed authors, is a bit of a mixed bag for me, and as a reader who appreciates and longs for more diversity throughout the book world, I was more than a little excited to dive right into this collection of which the objective was to illustrate the life experiences of many black youngsters. Not only that, but each story is written by some of the most-read black American authors of the last few years.

As usual with these selections, there are always ones you enjoy more than others, but I found the quality varied quite heavily between each one. Some of the writing was sterling and immersive, and I found myself swept away in the narrative; others I found very convoluted and non-engaging. I can understand exactly what the intention behind this book was. However, I felt as though this was a solid but unspectacular collection. As you might expect, every story has contents and happenings that make for uncomfortable reading, although I think that's par for the course given the description and intention of the writers and editor.

Many thanks to HarperCollins UK, Children's for an ARC.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,290 reviews215 followers
July 17, 2020
Black Enough had a ton of wonderful short stories in it. Each one was interesting, entertaining, and sometimes an eye opener. It dove into so many different lives and each one felt realistic. These are things that people are dealing with every day so I really enjoyed all of them.

Some stories show a bit more struggle than others. I mean, there is a story about sandwiches.. which is kind of making me hungry. Then there are some with misunderstandings or just wanting to escape the situation they are in. It's not that hard to believe that people in the spot light will always want a break. It doesn't matter if they are famous to the world or within their own community. Each person I met along this journey just made me happy. No matter what the outcome was, they learned something about themselves.

In the end, I feel like some stories could've been a bit longer than they were. There's this one story about wild horses and it ended on a damn cliffhanger. Oh lord, I wanted more! Other than that, definitely enjoyed this book and I'm so happy I got to dive into it.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,190 reviews724 followers
June 20, 2020
A lengthy collection (17!) of short stories on the theme of being a Black teen in America. As with any diverse collection, I absolutely loved some of the stories and merely appreciated others, but as a whole, the collection is stellar. I wish HS English classes could use short story collections like this in a major way, because they could be so so valuable in the movement to update the HS canon.
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews189 followers
December 21, 2018
Black Enough is an anthology of short stories written by Black authors about young Black characters living in the Unites States. It follows characters from many different backgrounds – there are stories about rich Black people, Black immigrants, biracial Black people, queer Black people – with very different living experiences, because as Ibi Zoboi says right from the introduction, there isn’t just one way to be Black.

First, I want to say that this review is from a perspective who is neither Black nor American. Some things may be lost on me, or I may be missing the context, and English isn’t even my first language. I often did not understand the American pop culture references here, but as this is a book specifically about American experiences, it won’t affect my rating significantly.

Half a Moon by Renée Watson – ★★★★
A heartwarming story about family and healing from the point of view of a seventeen-year-old girl working as a teen counselor at Oak Creek Campgrounds. Trigger warning for fat shaming, challenged by the narrative.

Black Enough by Varian Johnson – ★★★★
A Black boy feels out of place around his friends and the girl he likes because he doesn’t feel like he’s “Black enough” since he doesn’t fit certain stereotypes. It’s a story about community and what it means to be Black that touches also on themes like feminism and police brutality. Really liked it.

Warning: Color May Fade by Leah Henderson – ★★★
A story about appropriation set at a boarding school; specifically, it involves a white girl trying to profit from a black girl’s artwork by claiming it as her own. It was a bit confusing at the beginning, but I ended up liking it.

Black. Nerd. Problems. by Lamar Giles – ★★
This was really confusing. Not only because I was probably supposed to at least vaguely know what the characters were talking about – there were so many names of brands, it kind of relied on the pop culture references – but also because I didn’t really get the plot.

Out of the Silence by Kekla Magoon – ★★★★
This was really well-written and also a difficult read. It’s about a girl who discovers that the girl who made her question her sexuality has died. I liked that we don’t actually know whether the dead girl was queer, because I didn’t need a bury your gays, but it was heartbreaking to read anyway. Really short, beautiful writing, gave me a lot of feelings.

The Ingredients by Jason Reynolds – ★★★
A summer-y short story following Black boys being happy and being friends and talking about food. Fun, if plotless and too short to get invested in the (many) characters.

Oreo by Brandy Colbert – ★★★
A story about a girl meeting the cousins she hasn’t seen in years – and she doesn’t know how she feels about them because the last time she saw them, one of them called her an Oreo. It’s a story about family that also talks about gatekeeping and internalized hate for one’s culture.

Samson and the Delilahs by Tochi Onyebuchi – ★★★
The son of a couple of Nigerian immigrants practices for his debates, discovers metal music, meets a girl and tries to reconnect with his family’s past. While this story was contemporary, it reminded me that I really want to read Beasts Made of Night.

Stop Playing by Liara Tamani – ★★★★
I really liked this one! Which surprised me because I didn’t love the beginning, but the character development and the girl friendships were so great. Anyway, this is set at a church beach retreat and it involves untrustworthy boys asking for inappropriate selfies.

Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles – ★★★½
The m/m romance in this one was adorable, but I didn’t love the writing and the ending wasn’t as strong as I hoped it would be. It involves horse racing and a Black boy getting together with his neighbors’ son, whose parents are racist and homophobic.

Whoa! by Rita Williams-Garcia – ★★★★½
This was… surprising. It’s the only story with a maybe magical element, and it follows a gay Black model as he unexpectedly manages to talk with one of his ancestors, a slave living before the Civil War. It felt so sad and hopeful at the same time, and I loved the writing.

Gravity by Tracey Baptiste – ★★★★
This was one of the most original stories in the collection, as it takes place in the span of a few seconds. It talks about sexual assault, victim blaming and immigration (the main character is Trinidadian).

The Trouble With Drowning by Dhonielle Clayton – ★★★★½
A story about light-skinned Black sisters and mental health awareness – or, rather, the lack of it. It was a beautiful story I can’t talk about in-depth without spoilers, but trigger warnings for .

Kissing Sarah Smart by Justina Ireland – ★★★★★
I am predictable. Yes, this was my favorite story, and it involved an f/f romance between a biracial Black girl and a white fat girl. It was cute and funny and it also dealt with microaggressions, mental health and homophobia.
So, I really need to read Dread Nation.

Hackathon Summers by Coe Booth – ★★
This one didn’t work for me. It’s about Garry, who is falling in love with a muslim girl, Inaaya, at a hackathon. I couldn’t connect with them in so little space with so many time jumps, I guess.

Into the Starlight by Nic Stone – ★★★
A story about a girl learning to confront her internalized prejudices and the idea of being “not like [those] other Black people” while falling in love with a boy who also really likes Percy Jackson.

The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi – ★★★
This one follows a girl who was raised in an almost cult-like environment by activists. It had some really powerful parts – about activism failing people because nuance is often forgotten, about the way some people are more interested in advocating for the rights of animals before people (that part about asking for the liberation of “tree people and animal people” while their movement treats women as if their main role is to make babies and acts like gay people don’t exist was… something) – but I didn’t feel strongly about most of this.

Overall, I liked this anthology and its messages, even though – as it always happens – not every story worked for me as much as I hoped. I definitely want to read more from some of these authors now.

Average rating: ★★★½
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride).
410 reviews3,741 followers
July 15, 2021
I haven't read many anthologies in my life, and there's a good reason. I generally struggle with short stories (typically wanting more depth from them) and a collection of several, especially written by different authors and only tangentially related in theme, has the tendency to leave me feeling a bit overwhelmed and disconnected. That being said, Black Enough was a beautiful illustration of the diversity in the Black community, especially amongst teens. Exploring discovery of self and sexual orientation, identity and belonging, religion and freedom, community and family, trauma and loss, and more, this anthology has so much to share about the Black experience - in all its shapes and shades and frequencies.

As is to be expected, some of the stories resonated more deeply than others. Those that grabbed my heart the most were:
- Half A Moon by Renée Watson
- Oreo by Brandy Colbert
- Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles
- Gravity by Tracey Baptiste
- The Trouble With Drowning by Dhonielle Clayton

Gravity, especially, caught my attention. Baptiste uses stunning language to describe what is ultimately a single moment in time, a moment that drags on forever as a girl's thoughts race - coming to terms with what is happening to her, what it means, and what she can do to protect herself as she is "about to come back down to earth where all things fall apart, another fact of physics. Because it is the hardness of the floor, and the abrupt halt in momentum, and the unyielding nature of the surface, that causes a thing to crack. Even if it is not that thing's fault. And then we talk about this thing being broken, or it needing to be fixed, and not what part of the floor has played in the matter. Never the part about the floor being a constant threat. Even if it is a nice floor. Even if everybody wants one just like it.”

It was just beautiful and pulled me in more effectively than any other story in the collection.

My individual ratings for each story vary from 2-5 stars with the average rating coming in at 3.5, so I am rounded up to 4 stars.

I think this anthology is well worth the read but would recommend going into it knowing that some stories will resonate much deeper than others (and they likely won't be the same stories that grabbed me or anyone else)!

Trigger Warnings: bullying, slut-shaming, sexual harassment and assault, abortion, racism, homophobia, self-harm, suicide

VIDEO REVIEW: https://youtu.be/8CMwKdLnhc4

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Profile Image for Hazel.
177 reviews20 followers
February 10, 2019
What an beautiful amazing book filled with beautiful amazing stories!!
Profile Image for Angela Auten.
Author 6 books124 followers
April 9, 2019
Since this is an anthology I'm going to review each short story separately!

Half a Moon: Renee Watson
4 stars
Short Review: This story was a good start. Raven's half sister, Brooke, is at the same camp as her. Raven blames her for her father leaving. While Brooke is bullied by other girls Raven stays quiet. She doesn't so much to help her half sister. When Brooke goes missing she is the first to act. I enjoyed the ending very much. Family is family no matter what. I'm glad they formed a bond at the end.

Black Enough: Varian Johnson
3 stars
Short Review: Alright, I enjoyed the beginning of the story because it had me laughing. I liked both Myron and Cameron's attitudes. The story went sour when Jess Thompson entered. I didn't like her attitude one bit. I also don't like the way she treated Cameron. He didn't know what had gone down in South Carolina. He had his own things going on. You can't expect him to know everything. She is the type of girl I can't stand. Other than those things I still enjoyed the story. (It doesn't really affect my opinion of the entire book as a whole either.)

Warning: Color May Fade: Leah Henderson
5 stars
Short Review: I really enjoyed this story. It was amazing. The main character showed true strength in this story. I absolutely love the "tell your truth" part of the story as well. This story reminds me of some of the truth I tell in my own poetry.

Black. Nerd. Problems.: Lamar Giles
5 stars
Short Review: I loved how nerdy the main character of the story was. I also loved that he worked at Gamestop one of my favorite stores. His friends were pretty cool. They were all at a party at the mall they worked at. The whole thing was interesting in general.

Out of the Silence: Kekla Magoon
3.5 stars
Short Review: Death is something no one can escape. It's hard to deal with death. I think this story was too short. There should have been more to it. Oh well...this is a book of "stories" after all.

The Ingredients: Jason Reynolds
5 stars
Short Review: This story revolves around food and a swimming pool! I love both of those things. This story has made me hungry! It was really well written!

Oreo: Brandy Colbert
5 stars
Short Review: I really enjoyed this story. I like stories with family members. Although sometimes family can do you dirty too. I think this story showed that. I'm glad they were able to work out their differences.

Samson and the Delilahs: Tochi Onyebuchi
5 stars
Short Review: I loved this story. It was awesome. I love rock music just as much as the main female character, Dez. Rock is one of those genres I can't get enough of. I also like the speech and debate theme of the story as well.

Stop Playing: Liara Tamani
5 stars
Short Review: I loved this story too! Keri was an interesting character. The only thing I wished was she got with Brandon! He was such a sweet guy! Lucas and Derrick were losers! I loved her best friend.

Wild Horses, Wild Hearts: Jay Coles
1 star
Short Review: Ugh, I hate when authors talk bad about the Bible. That really irked my nerves. This story is rated low because it disrespected all religions in my opinion or people who believe in God. I was also uncomfortable through most of the story as well. Racism is a hard topic to write about as well. If I ever read this book again I will skip this story.

Whoa!: Kita-Williams-Garcia
2.5 stars
Short Review: Alright, this story was weird. Like really weird. I'm just glad it was better than the last story I read.

Gravity: Tracey Baptiste
2 stars
Short Review: This didn't work in second person at all. It should have either been written in first person or third person. I would have liked it more. Good try though.

The Trouble with Drowning; Dhonielle Clayton
3.5 stars
Short Review: To be honest this story was a bit confusing at first, but by the end of it I wasn't confused anymore. It ended up being really sad.

Kissing Sarah Smart: Justina Ireland
2.5 stars
Short Review: Divorce is hard on any teenager. Watching a parent suffer is hard. To be honest, I don't agree with the content of this story. I am usually not comfortable reading stories with same sex relationships. I know others support it, but it goes against what I believe. Plese don't hate me. I also felt the same way with Wild Horses, Wild Hearts. Oh well. Can't love everything.

Hackathon Summers: Coe Booth
5 stars
Short Review: I really loved this story. I love seeing people who are interested in the same things fall for each other. I also think it's cool that they were both into coding!

In the Starlight: Nic Stone
5 stars
Short Review: This story was so good! I loved Mak and Kamari! They were both nerds! I want more of them! I hope Nic Stone writes a book about them!

The (R)Evolution of Nigeria Jones: Ibi Zoboi
3.5 stars
Short Review: This story was pretty good. I didn't like the ending though. It could have been done a bit better.

Review as a whole: I enjoyed most of the stories in this hook. They were nicely written. Some more than others. I would love to read more works from all the authors one day. I hope others enjoy this book as well.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,955 reviews485 followers
February 10, 2022
In this short story collection of seventeen, we read about first love, heartache, identity, LGBTQ+ representation, relationships with the family and community. There were authors I was familiar with such as, Nic Stone, Ibi Zoboi, Renee Watson, Justina Ireland and Jason Reynolds. But the best part of this collection was being introduced to so many talented authors in this collection. I have listed the titles and authors below. As is my habit when reading a short story collection, I try to place a little synopsis and rating for each story.

Half a moon by Renee Watson- 3 stars. The story of two half-sisters at a summer camp and their complicated relationship.

Black Enough by Varian Johnson- 4 stars. The young protagonist, Cam, goes out of his way to impress people at a high school party but will the girl he's really trying to impress see through him?

Warning: Color May Fade by Leah Henderson 4 stars. When a young talented artist's parents come to visit will they recognize her need to show who they really are?

Black. Nerd.Problems. Lamar Giles 1 star This short story entertainingly focuses on a group of mall employees at an after-hours mall party. Kekela Magoon's main character mourns the loss of a school friend who was maybe the only person to see her real self. I am going, to be honest with all of you, I had to go find the summary because even as I flipped through the book. I just couldn't remember what it was all about. It failed to leave a mark!

Out of the Silenceby Kekla Magoon 5 stars A short story about grieving someone who has made a mark upon your life. So beautifully written!

The Ingredients by Jason Reynolds 3 stars. A story about friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything. It was a good story but I think I prefer his novels.

Oreo by Brandy Colbert 5 stars. Brandy Colbert’s “Oreo” deals with a potentially Spelman-bound senior, her parents’ complicated feelings about HBCUs, and how her cousin from Missouri thinks she “acts white.” I absolutely loved this short story. I think I would use it in the classroom actually and pair it with a text like " Borders" from Thomas King.

Samson and the Deliahs by Tochi Onyebuchi 3stars The main protagonist, a Nigerian American debate superstar finds a passion for metal music. It was a nice story but it didn't leave a mark on me.

Stop Playing by Liara Tamani Dealing with peer pressure and a naked selfie situation. Also, a good short story to incorporate into the classroom.

Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles 4. 5 stars Jay Coles brings readers to the tiny town of North Salem where two boys from feuding families reveal their feelings toward each other while getting ready to compete in the big horse race. I was rooting for these two boys the whole time!

Whoa! Rita Williams-Garcia 3.75 stars. The only fantasy story in the collection was just an enjoyable one where a gay male model comes face to face with one of their ancestors from the 19th century.

Gravity by Tracy Baptiste 4 stars. This short story takes place in a brief time span on a dance floor when a Trinidadian girl is sexually assaulted by her dance partner. Very powerful and I was immersed and maybe just a little bit anxious while reading this one.

The Trouble with Drowning by Dhonielle Clayton 5 stars. This powerful short story tells the tale of twin sisters from a wealthy area of Washington, DC experiencing a growing distance and a family unwilling to address mental health issues. Just amazing, I didn't want it to end and the story made me cry.

Kissing Sarah Smart by Justina Ireland 3.5 stars Justina Ireland’s main character, Devon, is in “the backwoods of Maryland” for the summer while her mother gets help for her depression and begins dating a local girl, trying to learn to live in the moment even though their relationship seems sure to end when they both leave for college. Great writing and characters but I couldn't help but compare it to The Trouble With Drowning.

Hackathon Summers by Coe Booth 2- 3 stars This short story is set at college, where computer science student Garry hopes to be reunited with Inaaya, a girl he knew (and fell for) from past summer hackathons. It had a good message but I didn't really like it that much.

Into the Starlight by Nic Stone 4 stars The main characters come from very different upbringings but learn to see each other beyond their stereotypes and bond over their love of Percy Jackson books. It was a solidly nice story.

The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi 5 stars Ibi Zoboi looks at the one night of freedom of Nigeria (Geri), the daughter of Black nationalist revolutionary freedom fighter caught for tax evasion who can’t wait to be eighteen and leave the confines of the movement. I wanted Nigeria Jones to have her own full-length novel. I enjoyed this story immensely.

Goodreads review published 10/02/22
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,766 reviews133 followers
September 25, 2021
Wonderful wonderful wonderful!

The collection of 17 short stories was enjoyable to read. Not everyone was my favorite. However, as a body they present a diverse presentation of youth.

Awesome characters! Fast paced reading!

Highly highly recommend, especially for young adult audiences.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews1,692 followers
September 19, 2019
A brilliant anthology that should be recommended reading for everyone who wants to read more diversely.

- Packed with an excellent range of stories, told my fantastic Black writers, and celebrates the diversity Black identity itself can be.
- Most of them are contemporary (with one example, which has elements of fabulism), but there were some stories with romances, about friendships, classism, racism, sexism, growing up, and the juxtaposition of history and the present.
- My favourite story is probably Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles, Into the Starlight by Nic Stone, and Kissing Sarah Smart by Justina Ireland.

Trigger/content warnings:
Profile Image for Joana Gonzalez (Elphaba).
652 reviews32 followers
August 23, 2020
Confesso que esperava algo diferente desta história e essa expectativa, sem dúvida, acabou por influenciar a minha opinião.

“Black Enough” é uma colecção de contos escritos por autores pretos que visa mostrar situações comuns de ser jovem e pertencente a uma minoria nos EUA. No entanto, nem sempre esse facto é o que está em evidência nestes textos, afinal ser adolescente por si só pode ser um verdadeiro drama que é transversal a todos os seres humanos.

Nem todos os contos foram bons. Não gostei de “Black. Nerd. Problems.” de Lamar Giles e muitos outros – como “Half Moon”, “Warning: Color May Fade” ou “Samson and the Dadilahs” –, embora tratassem temas interessantes relacionados com dificuldades diretamente ligadas com a cor da pele, herança cultural ou racismo, não foram suficientes para me encantar.

Fui surpreendida com a simplicidade “The Ingredients”, que embora não seja extraordinário me tocou o coração, e com a criatividade de “Whoa!”, a trazer um pouco de fantasia para esta obra e a merecer 5 estrelas.

Gostei muito de “Oreo” pela escrita e tanto “Wild Horses, Wild Hearts” como “Kissing Sarah Smart” me fizeram sorrir, com a forma como trataram a temática LGBT.

Em suma, este livro foi mediano. Não cumpriu as expectativas e não me prendeu, mas também não posso dizer que seja um mau livro de contos. Só não é, de todo, sobre #BLM, ainda assim vale por apoiar autores de minorias e ficar a conhecer novos escritores que manterei debaixo de olho.
353 reviews21 followers
May 5, 2019
Damn, I was hoping for a lot from this. But many of the stories felt rushed and lacked fleshing out? Being a short story doesn't excuse the weakness of the stories. Did it cover a variety of topics that may affect a black youth in America? Yes but very few of the topics were handled well. For example, one of the stories is dealing with a young girl who has an ex trying to pressure her into sending a nude. A relevant topic for all teens in this day and age with technology, right? The way this was handled felt disingenuous. They tried to wrap the story up with a relatively positive ending, where she and another girl share their nudes with one another and complement each other. Great concepts, poor execution.
Profile Image for Cait.
223 reviews40 followers
March 8, 2021
Trigger Warnings: Child abandonment, fatphobia, shooting, police brutality, anxiety, tokenism, death, fatal car crash, grief, racism, internal racism, mention of war, domineering parents, slut shaming, gaslighting, loss of a parent to cancer, illness of animal, underage drinking, homophobia, mention of slavery, sexual assault, victim blaming, self harm, death of loved one, suicide, drowning, depression and hospitalization, overdose, emotional and verbal abuse, trauma, ptsd, abortion, drug use, illness of parent
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 19 books2,392 followers
December 16, 2019
Absolutely one of the best YA anthologies I've ever read. Jason Reynolds and Kekla Magoon in particular absolutely knocked it out of the park for me, but there are a LOT of great stories.
Profile Image for Stella❤️ 孔凡星.
470 reviews53 followers
September 7, 2019
Half a Moon by Renée Watson
3.5/5 stars
I liked how the character grew and learned to accept her half sister. Enjoyable but nothing outstanding.

Black Enough by Varian Johnson
3/5 stars
This started off like your typical YA romance and evolved into something a little more.

Warning: Color May Fade by Leah Henderson
5/5 stars
This story was wonderful; I would definitely read a full novelized version. It was very powerful. I just love any story about art, really.

Black. Nerd. Problems. by Lamar Giles
3.5/5 stars
I couldn’t really understand some of the references but it was still entertaining.

Out of the Silence by Kekla Magoon
3/5 stars
The second person POV made the story a lot more intriguing but I’m not sure if I liked it or not.

The Ingredients by Jason Reynolds
3.5/5 stars
This made me so hungry. The friend group was really fun too.

Oreo by Brandy Colbert
4/5 stars
I really liked this story. I liked the sense of family and community. The reconciliation between Joni and her cousin was very sweet.

Samson and the Delilahs by Tochi Onyebuchi
3/5 stars
The story was different from what I normally read but I liked the writing style.

Stop Playing by Liara Tamani
3/5 stars
This is the most “teenager” story I’ve read so far.

Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles
4/5 stars
An American version Heartland with a splash of queer Romeo & Juliet? I like.

Whoa! by Rita Williams-Garcia
4/5 stars
This is what I imagine a psychedelic experience feels like.

Gravity by Tracey Baptiste
3/5 stars
I don’t have much to say about this other than it was okay.

The Trouble with Drowning by Dhonielle Clayton
3/5 stars
This gave me some serious Undead Girl Gang vibes.

Kissing Sarah Smart by Justina Ireland
3/5 stars
Nothing special but enjoyable.

Hackathon Summers by Coe Booth
3.5/5 stars
I think that this story would be relatable to a lot of different people. I really liked the summer camp at a university setting because of similar experiences in my life!

Into the Starlight by Nic Stone
4.5/5 stars
For some reason, I really clicked with the story and the characters. It may or may not have to do with the Percy Jackson references...

The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi
4/5 stars
I liked this one a lot. I’m so excited for the full length novel coming out spring 2021 with this character (a different plot from the short story though) and it sounds incredible!
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,717 reviews856 followers
Shelved as 'zzzz'
May 31, 2019
Half a Moon by Renée Watson // ★★☆☆☆

“Most times we only see part of a thing, but there’s always more to see, more to know.”

🌻 Trigger warnings for abandonment, fatmisia, and body shaming.

Black Enough by Varian Johnson // ☆☆☆☆☆
Warning: Colour May Fade by Leah Henderson // ☆☆☆☆☆
Black. Nerd. Problems by Lamar Giles // ☆☆☆☆☆
Out of the Silence by Kekla Magoon // ☆☆☆☆☆
The Ingredients by Jason Reynolds // ☆☆☆☆☆
Oreo by Brandy Colbert // ☆☆☆☆☆
Samson and the Delilahs by Tochi Onyebuchi // ☆☆☆☆☆
Stop Playing by Liara Tamani // ☆☆☆☆☆
Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles // ☆☆☆☆☆
Whoa! by Rita Williams // ☆☆☆☆☆
Gravity by Tracey Baptiste // ☆☆☆☆☆
The Trouble With Drowning by Dhonielle Clayton // ☆☆☆☆☆
Kissing Sarah Smart by Justina Ireland // ☆☆☆☆☆
Hackaton Summers by Coe Booth // ☆☆☆☆☆
Into the Starlight by Nic Stone // ☆☆☆☆☆
The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi // ☆☆☆☆☆

Profile Image for Selene.
595 reviews134 followers
February 18, 2019
Black-A-Thon February 1, 2019 - February 28, 2019

Challenge Hear Us (Read any work by a Black/African author

Contemporary-A-Thon February 11, 2019 - February 17, 2019

Challenge # 6 - Read a contemporary in a non-traditional format (anthology)

Authors I’m looking forward to Jason Reynolds, Brandy Colbert, Liara Tamani, Jay Coles, Dhonielle Clayton, Justina Ireland, Nic Stone, and Ibi Zoboi

Half a Moon by Renee Watson
5 Stars

Black Enough by Varian Johnson
4.5 Stars

Warning: Color May Fade by Leah Henderson
5 Stars

Black. Nerd. Problems by Lamar Giles
2 Stars

Out the Silence by Kekla Magoon
5 Stars

The Ingredients by Jason Reynolds
4 Stars

Oreo by Brandy Colbert
5 Stars

Samson and the Delilahs by Tochi Onyebuchi
4 Stars

Stop Playing by Liara Tamani
5 Stars

Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles
3 Stars

Whoa! by Rita Williams-Garcia
5 Stars

Gravity by Tracey Baptiste
5 Stars

The Trouble With Drowning by Dhonielle Clayton
5 Stars

Kissing Sarah Smart by Justina Ireland
3 Stars

Hackathon Summers by Coe Booth
4 Stars

Into the Starlight by Nic Stone
5 Stars

The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi
5 Stars
Profile Image for JM Cabral.
212 reviews28 followers
February 5, 2019
Actual rating: 4.5 ★

It was only a few months ago that I first heard about this anthology that Ibi Zoboi was working on, and I wasted no time in wanting to check it out. After a thorough Goodreads search, I easily got intrigued with BLACK ENOUGH, seeing that a lot of my favorite, powerhouse authors have contributed to it. I saw that there’s going to be a story about a girl dating a guy that her mother would never approve of from Nic Stone, two cowboys kissing in the South from Jay Coles, sisters who bond over the course of a camp out from Renée Watson, and a lot more! And honey, you don’t even have to ask me to read this. The fact that this book is brought about by a diverse cause alone is enough to hook me up. Read on to know what I thought of this groundbreaking short story collection.

Before I start giving my opinion on each of the stories, I want to be clear about one fact: I am neither Black nor American and I can't speak for the accuracy of the representation found in this book. I might have understood the pop culture references mentioned in some of the stories but there might be some additional context that I didn't get. Still, I find that most, if not all of the stories are modern and relatable and so even though I'm Brown and that this anthology wasn't exactly written for people like me, I still very much enjoyed reading through this collection.

Half A Moon by Renée Watson - ★★★★ // This anthology starts off with a heartwarming story about sisterhood and moving on and the power of unbreakable family bonds. Now, I say that this is heartwarming because it courageously incorporated the values of close-family ties and y'all know how big a sucker I am for this. [Trigger warnings for fat shaming and bullying.]

Black Enough by Varian Johnson - ★★★.5 // This one started off a little confusing for me because I feel like there were a lot of stuff happening during the first few pages of the story. Although after a little while—mostly towards the ending, really—it became clear that it's generally about being sensitive and woke to modern social issues like police brutality and the relevance of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Warning: Color May Fade by Leah Henderson - ★★ // This had so much potential, in my opinion, but it's confusing as hell. If I understood this correctly, this one's about thievery in the form of taking credit for an artwork that's originally conceptualized and entirely made by a different person. I completely didn't get the message of this, but I was impressed by the idea of the "winning artwork".

Black. Nerd. Problems. by Lamar Giles - ★★ // This read like a good story but in the end, I realized that it didn't really do anything for me. If I'm not mistaken, this one's about having game and having the guts to tell someone about your feelings for him / her. It completely took place in a community mall, and all I can remember about it is that there were a lot of brand names, pop culture references, and there was... a fight that cause an accident, I guess?

Out of the Silence by Kekla Magoon - ★★★.5 // Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this one was written in the format of a letter addressed to a dead person who made the narrator question her sexuality. This was a bit challenging to read but I enjoyed it all the same. Still, it was a heartbreaking, and moving read.

The Ingredients by Jason Reynolds - ★★★.5 // Albeit this was a quick and entertaining read—the main dudes kept on talking about their perfect sandwich and it literally made me hungry—I ultimately feel like it needed more depth? Jason Reynolds' stories are usually filled with so many allegories and so I think that's what lacked for me in this one.

Oreo by Brandy Colbert - ★★★★ // In my opinion, this is the story that perfectly captured the idea of the whole anthology. The main character of this one was called an "oreo"—black on the outside, white on the inside—by her cousin and it disturbed her to her core. Mainly, it's about the dreams that one aspires to achieve with the limited resources that they're given and still being able to look back from where you came from.

Samson and the Delilahs by Tochi Onyebuchi - ★★★★ // This is the story of a debater boy with immigrant parents who, all his life, was taught to strive for the best until he discovers metal music... Can you just imagine the chaos that ensues right after? He then starts to ask about his cultural history and his mom... just wasn't having it. But really, this one's about staying true to your roots and I appreciated it so, so much.

Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles - ★★★★.5 // NOW THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! This one's a forbidden m/m love story that involves Tank Robinson, a black guy who's 1/4 of the only all-Black family residing in the South, and Skyler Smith, the son of their racist and homophobic neighbors as they defy their parents' expectations by falling in love with each other. I would've given this a solid 5 if the ending had more wow factor, you know what I mean?

Whoa! by Rita Williams-Garcia - ★★★.5 // Out of all the short stories in this collection, I feel like this is the weirdest of all. This one's about a model who gets the chance to have an encounter with his ancestor from the pre-Civil War era through a magical basin. As they were talking, readers could easily identify the differences in beliefs, norms, and so many other aspects in comparison to modern times. This was interesting, but quite frankly, also a bit too weird for my tastes.

Gravity by Tracey Baptiste - ★★★★ // Within a span of a few seconds, this story hooked me up quite easily. It talks about sexual harassment, and body sensitivity in a time when victim blaming seems like a thing. Most of the depth of the story relied on flashbacks, and I was afraid that the author won't be able to pull it off. And you know what? I just love it whenever books or stories prove me wrong. [Again, trigger warnings for sexual assault,  and victim blaming.]

The Trouble With Drowning by Dhonielle Clayton -  ★★★.5 // I was really looking forward to this one because I love Dhonielle's debut, The Belles, and she's one of the authors whose stories I almost always look forward to. This one's about Lena, a light-skinned, Black character who, after losing her sister, tries her hardest to move on. This started off a little dragging to read what with all the narrative building. Still, this one's quite heart-rending.

Kissing Sarah Smart by Justina Ireland - ★★★★ // This one's a f/f love story involving one who's white and fat, and the other's black and biracial. I enjoyed this one because it defied gender norms, and the way it tackled homophobia and every day microaggressions seemed light and brave. All I know about Justina Ireland is that she writes good fantasty / feminist books. Little did I know that she has a talent for writing love stories as well.

Hackathon Summers by Coe Booth - ★★★★ // This greatly reminded me of When Dimple Met Rishi because most of the story took place in a convention for programmers called Hackathon. This is about Garry, a teen coder with mom issues who later on meets and falls in love with Inaaya, a Muslim girl who, at the time, seemed like the type of girl who knows herself completely. This talked about how people, no matter their age, religion, or gender, are capable of accepting and embracing change, and I can bravely say that this one's a favorite for me.

Into The Starlight by Nic Stone - ★★★★.5 // Now this was the story that got me into reading this anthology in the first place. This one's about Makenzie, the daughter of well-respected parents, who later on meets Kamari, a boy with a bad reputation. What I loved most about this, other than it's forbidden love trope, is the characters' development both for Mak and Kamari. In just a few pages, Nic Stone was able to turn them into people with strong voices, and I love how Mak was able to put her prejudices about "thugs" aside in order to accept her true feelings for Kamari, even though she knew that her parents would never approve of her relationship with him. I think it's brave, and I adore it.

"In conclusion, Black Enough is an amazing collection of short stories that showcases the wonders of being just what the title says—Black. It's a celebration of the good (and sometimes even bad) things that makes Black people worthy of having their place in this world. All of the stories brought something to the table, and even though, as expected, I did not end up loving every single story in this anthology, I still have to credit and thank every single contributor for giving me this wonderful opportunity of knowing you, your culture, and your norms. I have so much respect for y'all! And I look forward to reading all of your individual books."

Huge thanks to my friends from Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins International for sending me a review copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story. 
Profile Image for Gemma ♕ Bookish Gems.
479 reviews219 followers
January 16, 2020
Average rating (if we want to get technical: 3.91/5

So, before we get into some (very) brief reviews of each story, I just want to preface this by saying that I am neither Black or American so I am reviewing this purely as an outsider. I am aware that, although I can be an ally and I can stand up to racism when I see it and be a voice for equality, I can never fully understand the struggles and prejudice that all POC face on a daily basis. Although I have read books and news articles about the Black Lives Matter movement and the horrific issues of police brutality in America, I have not had to live it. I read this book to gain more understanding of the trials that young black people are facing every day, to discover more amazing Black authors and, as June Sarpong says in her preface in the UK edition of this book, I hope that “ as an ally for change and inclusion, Black Enough, will arm you with extra tools on your journey to make the world a fairer place.

Half A Moon- Renee Watson
Rating: 4/5

I loved this one. It’s a great look at what makes family Mb>family and what it means to be sisters. It’s about overcoming differences to find what links us together. As someone with a “half” sister myself I absolutely loved the analogy the woman used about half sisters and half moons. I always refer to my sister as just that, my sister and the few times that someone has said “well, she’s only your half sister” has really made me angry.

Black Enough- Varian Johnson
Rating: 4/5

This one had a young lad who was unsure if he was Black enough in the eyes of his peers. We look at his insecurities and how he tried to overcompensate. His main thing is thinking he isn’t Black enough for the girl he likes and I loved the fact that she showed him there was no such thing as being “Black Enough” and that it was more about being aware of what is going on outside your own privilege, about seeing the wider picture and using your voice to make the world a better place.

Warning: Color May Fade- Leah Henderson
Rating: 4/5

Oooo this one made me mad. This one is all about appropriation and the pressure of expectations. A talented young black artist, Nivia, who puts her heart and soul into a piece, knows she will be in trouble if she owns up as it was technically vandalism. But when a white, legacy student claims it as her on, she faces no punishment and is allowed to submit it for consideration for an award.. ”Anyone else, including me-- a rarer-than-rare Black legacy kid, and a board of trustees member’s daughter-- and he would have started very differently. But with an Eckhart-- Caswell Prep royalty-- everything is different, even the questions.” Nivia also faces pressure from her father to study Law and her desire to study art is dismissed. Speaking about his sister, an artist who inspired Nivia, he says ”People love brown on canvas-- the bark of a tree, the shine of a saddle-- but the same brown on her skin was rejected.” If that doesn’t just hit you in the soul…

Black. Nerd. Problems.- Lamar Giles
Rating: 5/5

I LOVED THIS ONE SO MUCH! It was funny, it was cute, it was a little slice of life! When I finished I exclaimed out loud “I LOVED THAT!” I’m nerdy myself so I saw myself in Shawn, I often think people will think I'm weird because I like geeky stuff but it’s a huge part of who I am and it makes me happy. People like to think they’ve accepted Geek/Nerd culture because everyone loves the Star Wars movies or because Marvel is so mainstream now. But the moment you bring up conventions or fanfiction or anything like that, those same people look at you like you’ve got two heads. So, yes, it is still a thing that you can worry about when approaching new people in any form. The fact that she wasn’t put off by his shirt or his rambling explanation or his love of old movies, was huge for Shawn. Also, I liked the way that it addressed toxic masculinity with the character of Cameron. He was aggressive in so many ways (loud mouth, looking for conflict, aggressively pursuing women etc), thought he was God’s gift, wanted to compete for a woman without giving her a say in what was happening etc. It was good that Dayshia called him an ass and shut him down.

I just loved the writing for this one and just FYI Lamar Giles has a new book coming out this year,Not So Pure And Simple, which sounds like it’s going to take some of the themes from this and make it into a full story and yes I will definitely be checking it out!

Out Of The Silence- Kekla Magoon
Rating: 4/5

Wow, this one hit me. This was so touching and thought provoking. It deals with the struggle of accepting one's sexuality and the fear of being ‘outed’ before fully understanding and accepting it yourself. It also looks grieving for someone you don’t really know but who you have created an idea of in your mind and what it’s like to lose that. The last line of this one really hit me.

The Ingredients- Jason Reynolds
Rating: 3/5

I’m not 100% sure I got this. I enjoyed it, it was fun to listen to the playful banter between the boys in the story and it made me incredibly hungry but I felt like it didn’t really go anywhere. I saw someone else say they thought this was about dreams vs reality and had to do with poverty and I think now it’s been said, I can see that. They have these big plans, these dreams of what they want to eat but when they get back to the apartment, all that is available to them is cereal. It’s not quite the amazing sandwiches they were describing on their way home, but it’s all that’s open to them. So yes, now that someone else has pointed it out to me, I can see how it would be about class and about how many Black people do not have the same opportunities that White people have due to their location and means, but I still think the story lacked something for me. Still enjoyed it but needed something more.

Oreo- Brandy Colbert
Rating: 5/5

There was so, so much to love here! A wonderful look at self doubt, judgement, fear and internalised dislike. Not necessarily of yourself as a person, but more where your from or the culture you come from but don’t really understand. I loved that we saw this discussion from two different viewpoints and that a big part of the issues between these two cousins was what they had learned from their respective fathers. It was about the fear of leaving where you came from and losing who you are or not being enough outside of your bubble as it exists. I loved it.

Samson And The Delilahs- Tochi Onyebuchi
Rating: 5/5

Beautiful. I love music so much. It is a massive part of my life. I’ve been singing in many capacities since I was about 10, music always filled our house when I was young and continues to be something I take joy from every day of my life. System Of A Down were a massive part of my teenage years and I still love them very much. They have a very unique sound and the messages in their songs are so powerful. I loved how their story was utilised here. I love how it helped Sobechi find a new passion, come out of himself, find new friends and most importantly, connect with his family's past. It was very powerful that the history of Serj, Daron and the rest of the band made him question something in his own heritage and that he was able to connect with his mother over something so difficult in her past. Just really loved not only the theme about uncovering part of yourself, but also the wonderful power of music to bring us together.

Stop Playing- Liara Tamani
Rating: 3.5/5

Most of this rating is for the discussion about body positivity, the rise and dangers of “naked selfies” and self-respect. I didn’t really connect with the character though and felt like the second love interest was tact on. I liked the twist with what happened with the boys at the end but thought the very end section was a bit of a let down.

Wild Horses, Wild Hearts- Jay Coles
Rating: 2/5

Damn, I thought I was going to get through this whole thing without rating anything under a three! Never mind. I liked the rep but it felt completely underdeveloped. I know this is a short story but still! I didn’t feel there was any chemistry between the two of them and there was no resolution at the end. It just...ended. Nothing was resolved. Just a bit meh to be honest.

Whoa!- Ria Williams-Garcia
Rating: 4/5

This was weird and I love weird! It was a conversation between the past and the present, a look at how things have changed and it was creative as hell!

Gravity- Tracey Baptiste
Rating: 4/5

There was so much packed into what was essentially a few minutes for our protagonist. There was a light shown on not just sexual assault but also victim blaming, the idea that a woman could be “asking for it” and also, how entrenched this has all become in our society. For the boy in this story, it is fun and pleasure. For the girl, it is assault and the fear of what comes next, both if she says nothing and if she draws attention to it. Very powerful.

The Trouble With Drowning- Dhonielle Clayton
Rating: 4/5

Even though I guessed what was happening pretty quick with her sister this was still a really powerful piece, looking at mental health and dealing with grief. I think it was handled really well and a few different approaches to dealing with grief are hinted at. Just really well done.

Kissing Sarah Smart- Justina Ireland
Rating: 4/5

This was super cute! I loved the romance, the healthy talk regarding what constitutes sex, calling out ‘polite’ racisim (“OMG I love your hair, how do you get it like that? Look at me being not racist. I voted for Obama”...so awkward), discussions about mental health and the background of her mum taking back control of her own life. Just great.

Hackathon Summers- Coe Booth
Rating: 3/5

I’m not sure how I feel about this one if I’m honest. I really loved the way it was structured and written, I liked the setting of it all and this theme of finding yourself and your own strength, but I so wanted the romance to go a different way so the end was just a bit disappointing. I’m just a but...meh.

Into The Starlight- Nic Stone
Rating: 5/5

Super cute! Loved the discussion about judging people without knowing them. He always assumed she was a spoilt little rich girl and everyone assumes he’s a good for nothing thug. But in reality they are perfect for each other. He has ambition, he likes Percy Jackson, he was willing to stand up and do the right thing and he’s willing to take the accusations to let someone else save face. She is starting to question everything her mother has always said, she’s coming to understand there is more to the people on “the bad side of town” than her mother would have her believe and they come together so wonderfully. I also really enjoyed “Dear Martin” so I think it’s definitely time to check out more of Nic Stones work!

The (R)Evolution Of Nigeria Jones- Ibi Zoboi
Rating: 3/5

Bit of a lackluster ending if I’m honest. I thought the subject matter was really thought provoking and I liked seeing the start of her journey away from that cult mentality and starting to take control of her own thoughts and life. I actually thought both her and her best friend were very interesting characters and I wanted more of their story. It felt like a tiny snippet of something bigger, which I don’t mind, except I felt like we were witnessing the least impactful section. It all felt unresolved, we don’t even know how she extracted herself from the small situation we are with her in, let alone the bigger picture. I liked the writing though so if Ibi Zoboi writes (or has written...let me know if I’ve missed it) a full novel about this, I’m there.


This is definitely my favourite anthology that I’ve read. So many of the stories were thought provoking and I felt like I had a connection to pretty much all of them in some way. I’ve also found some new authors to check out their other works which is always good!

Highly recommend the audiobook! This is the first book with narration by Ron Butler I’ve listened to and I thought he was wonderful. Great tone and I really felt like all the characters were distinct. I am a huge fan of Bahni Turpin anyway and I think she puts so much feeling and emotion into her narration. She is such a joy to listen to. I always find I connect with the characters as she really brings them to live and gives them so much presence.

Overall, really enjoyed this and highly recommend it.
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