The Loyalty 100: FICTION
From anthologies, to mysteries, romance, and speculative fiction, we have the stories to find yourself, your people, and every kind of adventure for the human spirit hand picked by the Loyalty Team!
This glorious collection of poetry, art, essays, and stories shows queer Brazil in its complex and multifaceted representation. You’ll be blessed with new authors to fall in love with and see a side of Brazil hidden so often from our eyes. -- Hannah
The first in the Well-Read Black Girl Library series is this beautiful anthology on Black Girlhood curated by Glory Edim, founder of the Well-Read Black Girl library and lover of our people! Filled with short stories by beloved and lesser known Black literary treasures, this collection will bring joy to you and yours for years to come. -- Hannah
When an 800+ page book lands on your desk for review, you take a deep breath and hope for the best. Imagine my surprise when a few hours later I was halfway through and completely obsessed with Love Song having missed the passage of several hours and two zoom calls. This book is a transformative experience of Black love, family, and our history as told by an unforgettable narrator wrapped up in the legacies of her hometown. You know these characters in your bones when the book is finished and their voices will stay in your head for years to come. -- Hannah
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Certain books, like Things We Lost to the Water, make me wish I was a writer so I could write a review worthy of the author's prose. Huong and her two young sons, Tuan and Binh, leave Vietnam and immigrate to America in 1979. The novel follows this family as they settle into life in New Orleans, each on their own very different paths, yet all haunted by the shadow of their absent father, Huong’s husband. Spanning three decades, Things We Lost to the Water is a powerful story of love, survival, identity, family, the trauma of war, and the fundamental power of water to both nourish and destroy. Nguyen’s writing is utterly captivating -- one of the best debuts of the year! -- Christine
Three Black women from all over the world find their stories intertwining in this moving and dynamic story of how supposedly small encounters can forever change our lives. With an eye on the differences between cultures, and the underlying misogynoir that ties them together, Åkerström gives full life to the women and places at the center of this beautiful book. -- Hannah
Shuttled between the homes of their Irish and Black Grandmothers in the years just before and during the Civil War, Theo shows us the beauty and the danger in this moment in American history. The fully realized streets of the Five Point District of New York City live and breathe through Theo as he navigates the wide worlds that can be continued in just a moment. Corthron is a master of race, class and empathy and this book is sure to enter our canon as a touchstone of both the Civil War era and our current moment. -- Hannah
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Moniz's smart and seductive writing lures you into the world of sweltering Florida as she gives physical embodiment to Black womanhood in these short stories. I feel like these characters are a part of my family now! Each woman is as recognizable as your own aunt or sister and the neighborhoods as walkable and real as your own. At turns willfull, gentle, funny, and heartbreaking this collection was selected for our quarterly subscription box due to being a storewide favorite so you know you cannot miss! -- Hannah
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We all need more love stories in our lives! These stories are a modern twist on old mythical tales from mostly Africa but also other places around the world. Babalola packs so much into a single story, each one full of wonder, romance, longing, and the emotions that make us human. So many sentences were jaw-droppingly beautiful, and the vivid imagery truly immerses you in each story. Even if you think you're not into short stories, consider giving this one a try. -- Jaclyn
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This book had me crying, then laughing out loud, then laughing while crying, sometimes within the span of a couple of pages. It's hilarious, witty, contemporary, and warm. Reading it felt like bingeing a TV show: the pages just kept turning and I couldn't put the book down. And yet, it's also full of depth and intense character development, exploring issues of childhood trauma, intimacy and loneliness, love, race, and gentrification. I want to gift this book to all of my friends--it was flawless. -- Jaclyn
In his second book, and debut short story collection, Brandon Taylor demonstrates his marvelous and hard-won growth as a fiction writer since the release of Real Life, his debut novel. Introducing readers to a refreshingly broad range of characters who, each in their unique way, feel stagnant in life, Taylor's deft prose uncovers the psychic and somatic tension generated in anyone who craves more from life while being unsure of how to go after it. Writing in the style of American realism, Taylor's attentiveness to craft dashes the tradition with a necessary burst of color and suppleness of language. A perfect read as we descend into the cooler seasons. -- Malik
A fictional corrective to the foolhardy belief that queer people, especially Black queer people, didn't exist during the antebellum era, acclaimed political commentator Robert Jones Jr.'s first novel is as much a balm as it is a blaze. Following the story of Isaiah and Samuel, two young men in love in spite of all the odds against them, we also become acquainted with the community that, both, accepts and rejects them. A perfect book to pick up if you're in the mood for something literary and deep, The Prophets is, hopefully, only the first literary gift Jones Jr. will deliver us. -- Malik
I loved this book for the messy, human, unforgivable and totally relatable ways that the characters seek connection. Torrey Peters depicts 30-something trans life in ways I'd never seen before, confronting the challenges of forming queer family and home life. The characters felt fresh and the depictions of queer community (& the heterosexuals) made me cackle & cry. Gender is weird. Babies are weird. Detransition, Baby helps it all seem worth it. -- Sybil
Rarely is a debut novel so completely envisioned and perfectly realized as All the Water. Rodrigues takes us back home to Florida in a novel as much a coming of age novel as it is a mystery. Our narrator Daniel seeks to both understand and avenge his murdered high school sweetheart Aubrey while reconciling the queer life he lives as an adult in New York. Without sentimentality but with deep love Rodriques shows the dangers and necessity of going home again. -- Hannah
As captivating a character as Marie, the titular Matrix of Lauren Groff’s luminescent new novel, appears, and as engrossing as its impeccably researched and imagined medieval setting can be, and as vital and topical and eternal as its themes of ecstacy and abasement, ambition and constraint, isolation and community, undoubtedly are, the true power of Matrix lies in Groff’s scintillating prose. Like Marie in her Abbey, the tension between its parts supports and uplifts the whole, even as it threatens sudden annihilation:
“Nothing is all stark and clear any longer, nothing stands in opposition. Good and evil live together; dark and light. Contradictions can be true at once. The world holds a great and pulsing terror at its center. The world is ecstatic in its very deeps.” -- David
I picked this up solely because it’s set in my mom's hometown of Woonsocket, RI—a place I’ve spent a lot of time, but that almost no one else I know has ever heard of. Agatha and three of her sisters move from a failing convent in Buffalo, NY to Woonsocket, where they’ll provide spiritual guidance to the members of halfway house Little Neon. Agatha slowly opens up to the world outside of the church she’s been dedicated to her entire adult life, questioning her faith and her bonds with the sisters who’ve been her only family for years. Told in brief chapters and wry, spare prose, I was moved by this quiet yet striking novel about a young woman starting to envision a new and different life for herself. -- Amy
Cyclopedia Exotica is a satirical graphic novel about dating, art, and life as a cyclops living in a two-eyed majority world. Imagine if the comic strip Cathy was about the real shit that marginalized communities go through while still being very funny. Aminder Dhaliwal explores race, identity, fetishization, microaggressions, xenophobia, and more in this hilarious and thoughtful comic. -- Christine
Kimiko is a 76 year old bisexual Japanese Canadian woman who is on the lam from the nursing home. Death's shadow has followed her from the nursing home but she's not ready to die, so naturally she buys a vacuum cleaner and vacuums up Death. The artwork and story of Shadow Life will stay with you and you will fall in love with Kimiko's sense of humor and delightfully odd way of looking at the world as she lives her life trying to avoid Death's shadow. -- Christine
Razorblade Tears is a revenge thriller like no other! Cosby tells the often overlooked stories of Black folks in rural America while giving us a unforgettable mystery. Two fathers, one Black and another white, reconcile themselves to their son's queer relationship and their own complicity in isolating them. With an unlikely duo at its core, this novel has violence, comedy, and a pulse pounding race for personal justice that will keep you up late racing to its heartpounding conclusion. -- Hannah
In this our second year of Covid-19 stresses and broken attention spans, I have read this book three times. Ruffin's incredibly rich characters will have you rolling one second and crying the next. His rich but brief prose is perfect for the sweltering streets of New Orleans he brings to life in this short story collection and novella. From the professor robbing tourists to the beautiful boys learning the lessons of love I return to the pages again and again to find both hope and to be seen. -- Hannah
Escape into the dazzling world of Nekesa's noir Harlem where danger, jazz, and family rule the pages of this book. -- Hannah
This book is an absolute delight and a blast from start to finish. Frustrated with a stalled career and failed promise, our heroine returns home to her family resturant beset by gentrification and an embittered ex turned food blogger. To keep her family together and come to terms with her own identity she'll have to solve a murder and the mystery of exactly which of the attractive new gentleman in her life has good intentions. Turning the cozy mystery on its head, Manansala offers a comforting and smart adventure with enough Filipino fusion recipes to have your mouth watering for days. -- Hannah
This book is not your typical romance--it is way more. Helen Hoang packs so much charm and romance while also weaving in issues around caregiving and burnout, being on the autism spectrum, pushing back on people pleasing, grief, and immigrant family dynamics. This book is cute, empathetic, sexy, and shockingly relatable in many ways. It is the third book to the Kiss Quotient series, though anyone can pick up this book without missing out. -- Jaclyn
Dreamer turned realist Makeda wants nothing to do with the dynamic, beautiful, and strange Beznaria who has appeared in her life suddenly and with the force of a sun. Unrelenting, Beznaria insists that Makeda accompany her on a whirlwind sea journey to claim a title she thought only belonged in fairy tales. Part sweeping Romance, part homecoming, and all happy ending, this book will remind you of why you love reading about romantic connection and its power of helping two people become their best selves. -- Hannah
Hot nerds and a steamy second chance romance? Sign. Me. Up! Friends turned almost lovers break up before college despite having a successful fanfic and years of family history to keep them together. Or is that exactly what divided them in the first place? Now adults with careers across the country and walls of steel, they'll have to finish the comic and come to terms with what they meant to each other in order to secure their dream jobs and close that chapter for once and for all. Brilliantly depicting the tight knit and sometimes overwhelming Puerto Rican community, Alexis Daria gives us a whole family to fall in love with while rooting for these two to just admit they're in love already! -- Hannah
Ohhh myyy!! Happy Endings is such a fun, steamy, sex-positive romcom that is an absolute blast to read. Trixie Nguyen recently moved to Washington, DC and runs a sex toy business. During a pop event at a soul food restaurant, Trixie happens to reconnect with her ex who runs the family restaurant with his sister. Her ex who left her in New Orleans...with a Post-it note. This is a second chance romance with so much heart that will make you deliciously hungry and horny. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! -- Christine
Three cousins travel from the states to Ecuador to understand where their magic comes from and what about it makes them a target. This book is everything I love about Zoraida Córdova's writing: it's fast paced, romantic, and shows the boundless magic of family and learning who you are. Come for the magic and stay for the adventure. -- Hannah
I was completely swept up in the voice and scope of Okorafor's Noor. I have long been a fan of her novels and this story takes everything incredibly mind-expanding about Africanfuturism and blows it open like the wind-storm-nado at the center of this novel's crisis. What happens when colonialism takes yet another form with better marketing and advancement in human engineering is yet another way for us to isolate the most vulnerable in society. What follows is an adventure that only Nnedi Okorafor can transcribe and will have you lost in a world so close to ours with both its dangers and its triumphs equally possible. -- Hannah
This West African fantasy sweeps you off your feet and, absolutely revel in this pun, leaves you buzzing. Folklore, the climate crisis, and a personal adventure are interwoven by Andrea Hairston's steady hand. Whether in its grand storytelling or the perfection of its sentence level this novel will lift up teens and adults into thinking boldly about our world. -- Hannah
Cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and a family of aliens who run a donut shop in the San Gabriel Valley. Light From Uncommon Stars is a beautiful, tender, quirky, and super queer novel that has a special place in my heart. It's a perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy that fans of Good Omens, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, or The House in the Cerulean Sea will absolutely love. -- Christine
I love the way Mary H.K. Choi writes about being in a body full of needs and desires. Come for the dreamy descriptions of food, crushes, and city life. Stick around for personal realizations around sex, family, and food. -- Sybil
On its surface, this is a straightforward contemporary about titular Moon, a plus-sized Latinx 17-year-old photographer who’s forced to accompany her social media celebrity twin Star on a summer influencer tour. But it’s so much more than that. There’s magic realism, tarot spirituality, a swoon-worthy romance (with a beautiful boy who cooks!),and sex and body-positive themes that make me wish the book had existed when I was a teen. Gilliland, a poet, writes lush, lyrical prose, and her sophomore YA effort is simply fabulous. -- Sandie
We all know it’s dangerous to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, the gorgeous cover graces an extraordinary story. Not only does Boulley’s buzz-worthy debut live up to the hype, but it will inspire readers to learn more about Anishinaabe culture and acknowledge the need for more Indigenous voices in young adult literature. This book has something for every YA reader: a strong sense of place (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan), a page-turning plot, a criminal investigation, elite sports (hockey, running), romance, class and race and tribal issues, and in Daunis, a remarkable protagonist you’ll cheer for at every turn. -- Sandie
Fifteen-year-old Spencer is excited to start fresh at a new school, especially after the dramatic turn of events after he transitioned at his last one. He’s looking forward to the chance to play for his school’s soccer team, but his dreams may be dashed for one reason: his birth certificate still says the sex he was assigned at birth. No one at his new school knows that Spencer is trans, and he has to decide if he’s willing to jeopardize his new friendships (and a potential romance with a teammate) by standing up for his rights and those of other young trans athletes. A sheer delight from start to finish, The Passing Playbook will have you on your feet cheering for Spencer and his loving, supportive friends and family. -- Amy