Diverse Characters

Chain Gang All Stars: A Novel book cover

Chain Gang All Stars: A Novel

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

OverDrive Audiobook
Diverse Characters, Fiction, LGBTQ+, Dystopian

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • A READ WITH JENNA BOOK CLUB PICK • NATIONAL BESTELLER • Two top women gladiators fight for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America’s own in this explosive, hotly-anticipated debut novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Friday Black • LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE “Like Orwell’s 1984 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Adjei-Brenyah’s book presents a dystopian vision so…illuminating that it should permanently shift our understanding of who we are and what we’re capable of doing.” —The Washington Post “This book will change you!...A masterpiece.” —Jenna Bush Hager, The Today Show’s #ReadWithJenna She felt their eyes, all those executioners… Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly-popular, highly-controversial, profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators and prisoners are competing for the ultimate prize: their freedom. In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death-matches for packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thurwar and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, she considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games, but CAPE’s corporate owners will stop at nothing to protect their status quo and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar’s path have devastating consequences.     Moving from the Links in the field to the protestors to the CAPE employees and beyond, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system’s unholy alliance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means from a “new and necessary American voice” (Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review).

Annie's picture

A very informative and gripping dystopian novel that will make you think about the U.S. prison system and how we consume modern-day professional sports. -Annie

Carmilla : the first vampire book cover

Carmilla : the first vampire

Amy Chu

Diverse Characters, Fantasy, Horror, LGBTQ+, Graphic Novels, Mystery

"Before Dracula, before Nosferatu, there was...CARMILLA. At the height of the Lunar New Year in 1990s New York City, an idealistic social worker turns detective when she discovers young, homeless LGBTQ+ women are being murdered and no one, especially the police, seems to care. A series of clues points her to Carmilla's, a mysterious nightclub in the heart of her neighborhood, Chinatown. There she falls for the next likely target, landing her at the center of a real-life horror story-and face-to-face with illusions about herself, her life, and her hidden past. Inspired by the gothic novel that started a genre and layered with dark Chinese folklore, this queer, feminist murder mystery is a tale of identity, obsession and fateful family secrets"--

Annie's picture

A cool reimagining of the 1872 classic "Carmilla" that takes queer vampire murder mystery to a new level by incorporating Chinese folklore in the heart of 1990s New York. Perfect for the dark season! -Annie

Grandad's pride book cover

Grandad's pride

Harry Woodgate

jE Woodgate
Picture Books, LGBTQ+, Diverse Characters, Kids

"After Milly discovers a pride flag in Grandad's attic, this adorable pair are motivated by the past to start a pride parade in their small town. Activism and celebration go hand in hand as the town gathers to help build a world where everyone is proud to be themselves"--

Angie's picture

Harry Woodgate continues the story of Grandad's Camper in their second picture, Grandad's Pride. Grandad and Milly are back for another adventure, this time honoring the past and celebrating the future with a pride parade in their community. Woodgate's artwork is vibrant and colorful, making the characters bright and heartwarming. -Angie

Pet book cover


Emezi, Akwaeke, author.

Diverse Characters, LGBTQ+, Dystopian, Fantasy

There are no monsters anymore. In the city of Lucille, Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. Then Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother's paintings and a drop of Jam's blood. Pet has come to hunt a monster-- and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house. How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist? -- adapted from jacket

Bailey's picture

This book features a non-verbal teen who lives in a world where there are no more monsters--until her mother's painting comes alive and tells her that's a lie. This is fast-paced, whimsical, and emotional, with a healthy of balance of some dark themes alongside radical depictions of trans joy and autistic joy. -Bailey

Ellen outside the lines book cover

Ellen outside the lines

Sass, A. J., author.

jFICTION Sass, A. J.
Diverse Characters, LGBTQ+

"Ellen, an autistic thirteen-year-old, navigates a new city, shifting friendships, a growing crush, and her queer and Jewish identities while on a class trip to Barcelona, Spain"--

Bailey's picture

This middle grade novel is such a charming, wholesome book that perfectly captures the inner struggles of so many autistic teens: the desire to be seen as "normal" as peers, even when the energy to do so it is to the individual's detriment. Reading about Ellen making new friends and exploring a new place is so much fun to encounter for kids, and was so delightful to read as an adult. -Bailey

Tumble book cover


Celia C. Pérez

jFICTION Perez Celia
Kids, Diverse Characters

Before she decides whether to accept her stepfather's proposal of adoption, twelve-year-old Adela Ramírez reaches out to her estranged biological father--who is in the midst of a career comeback as a luchador--and the eccentric extended family of wrestlers she has never met, bringing Adela closer to understanding the expansive definition of family.

Anne W's picture

This is a super-fun read about an eccentric family of luchadors (Mexican-style pro wrestlers) set in New Mexico. The book is heartwarming without the ending being pat or too neat and tidy, which I appreciated. Also clear-eyed from a kid's perspective about the failures and shortcomings of adults in your life, though overall showing the centrality of family and how important it is for them to have your back (in and out of the wrestling ring!). -Anne W

Autism in heels : the untold story of a female life on the spectrum book cover

Autism in heels : the untold story of a female life on the spectrum

Jennifer Cook O'Toole

618.9285882 /O'Toole
Diverse Characters, Memoir, Nonfiction

"Autism in Heels, an intimate memoir, reveals the woman inside one of autism's most prominent figures, Jennifer O'Toole. At the age of thirty-five, Jennifer was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, and for the first time in her life, things made sense. Now, Jennifer exposes the constant struggle between carefully crafted persona and authentic existence, editing the autism script with wit, candor, passion, and power. Her journey is one of reverse-self-discovery not only as an Aspie but--more importantly--as a thoroughly modern woman. Beyond being a memoir, Autism in Heels is a love letter to all women. It's a conversation starter. A game changer. And a firsthand account of what it is to walk in Jennifer's shoes (especially those iconic red stilettos). Whether it's bad perms or body image, sexuality or self-esteem, Jennifer's is as much a human journey as one on the spectrum. Because autism "looks a bit different in pink," most girls and women who fit the profile are not identified, facing years of avoidable anxiety, eating disorders, volatile relationships, self-harm, and stunted independence. Jennifer has been there, too. Autism in Heels takes that message to the mainstream."--Page [2] of cover.

Hanna's picture

This book let me see a different side of Autism. The author is an adult woman with a psychology degree who can quote scientific studies as well as she can reflect on her own autistic childhood. It was eye-opening, to say the least. -Hanna

Red at the bone book cover

Red at the bone

Jacqueline Woodson

FICTION Woodson, Jacqueline
Black Lives Matter, Black History, Literary Fiction, Diverse Characters

"Two familes from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody's mother, for her own ceremony-- a celebration that ultimately never took place"--Adapted from jacket.

Heidi K's picture

This was a beautiful read. It packs so many different feelings, perspectives, and atmospheres into one relatively short book. This is not one to miss! -Heidi K

Miss Quinces book cover

Miss Quinces

Kat Fajardo

Diverse Characters, Graphic Novels

"Sue just wants to spend the summer reading and making comics at sleepaway camp with her friends, but instead she gets stuck going to Honduras to visit relatives with her parents and two sisters. They live way out in the country, which means no texting, no cable, and no Internet! The trip takes a turn for the worse when Sue's mother announces that they'll be having a surprise quinceera for Sue, which is the last thing she wants. She can't imagine wearing a big, floofy, colorful dress! What is Sue going to do? And how will she survive all this "quality" time with her rambunctious family?"--

Mari's picture

Fans of Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jamieson will love this funny coming-of-age story about family, friendship and expressing your true self! -Mari

Miss Rita, mystery reader book cover

Miss Rita, mystery reader

Sam (Fashion designer) Donovan

jE Donovan
Picture Books, LGBTQ+, Diverse Characters

"Daddy is the Mystery Reader at Tori's school today, and he's coming dressed as Miss Rita! Tori helps Daddy gloss, glitter, glamour, and glimmer to get ready. It takes time-because sparkle is serious business! Tori loves helping Daddy become Miss Rita. But will the other kids at school love Miss Rita like Tori does? Luckily, a last-minute idea helps Daddy and Tori find a way to make story time sparkle for everyone. This heartwarming and relatable family story celebrates drag queens, reading, and self-acceptance, teaching every kid to let their sparkle shine! And it includes back matter providing an overview of drag performance"--

Angie's picture

A great read together story that is reassuring to kids whose families may not fit gender norms or who might be navigating their own feelings about gender identity and affirmation. There is plenty of sparkle and fun to engage all ages throughout the story. The author note at the end is in inclusive language, talkable and presented in an approachable way to learn more about gender and drag queens. -Angie