Cool. Awkward. Black.

Four Black teens surrounded by swirling, glowing books, ufo's and masks, all indicating something magical is happening.Cool. Awkward. Black: this collection of eighteen stories confirms that yes, you can be all three. Some of the best writers of young adult books have come together to prove it. Into cosplay? Cool. Play videogames? Nice. Enjoy fantasy role playing games? We got you. Do you craft? You’re not alone! Do you love LARPing? We see you!

The genres include fantasy, horror, science fiction and more, often with a bit of romance. You’ll meet teens who hunt UFOs, others with surprising mystical powers, many who dare to live their authentic, nerdy selves. Ibi Zoboi’s “Earth Is Ghetto” explores how people can feel like aliens on earth and questions whether there are answers off planet. “Requiem of Souls” from Terry J. Benton-Walker is straight up horror ¬†– with music. Roseanne A. Brown’s “Wolf Tracks” shows how love can be transformative on multiple levels. If you’re looking for adventure, in “Drive Time” by Lamar Giles, two teens who start out taking a “behind the wheel” lesson suddenly find themselves forced to be their instructor’s getaway drivers.

I have to admit, this book grabbed me from the first entry. In “Our Joy, Our Power” by Julian Winters, two young men meet and make a sweet connection at a Comic-Con like gathering – one of my favorite places to be! A nice thing about this collection is that it’s kind of meta – not only do the stories reflect the interests of different nerdy Black teens, these are also the kinds of stories that nerdy Black teens like to read. ¬†There is so much variety here, anyone who picks up the book will find something to enjoy.

Find Cool. Awkward. Black at your local bookstore.