Book Review | October 2021

We all need more joy in our lives….especially now! We need reminders of the small joys and what we can and should appreciate in life. Sometimes it’s as small as a “surge of joy like a perfect seventy-seven-degree day” or as big as the joy in saving the world in an intergalactic alien race to the finish line.

“From seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.” Joy comes in all different forms in Black Boy Joy – from fantastical stories filled with unique creatures like P. Djeli Clark’s “Percival and the Jab” to fantasy writer Tochi Onyebuchi capturing a moment in history and “Coping” during the new world of the pandemic.

It’s the delight of seeing your Momma and your Aunty dancing to a song that gives them joy down to their aching bones and inspires a new song for church to uplift the congregation in “But Also, Jazz” by Julian Randall.

One of my favorites was “The Gender Reveal” by George M. Johnson – this was a story of the joy of inclusion and authenticity. It was the wonder of being seen and recognized as your true, most gorgeous self and the joy of knowing that your friends and family 100% have your back. I was in awe of and found such pride in the bravery of Malcolm. What an inspirational narrative of self love and a vision what happens when loved ones encourage you to share your truth.

What I loved was that these stories were all beautifully edited by Kwame Mbalia while adding his own interwoven narrative “The Griot of Grover Street” about the act of collecting joy throughout the book.

Read to find how joy manifests for the authors through the joy of music, of comics, of superheroes, of family, of fantasy, of flying, of facing fears, of courage, of trials, of success. These were my interpretations, but I encourage you to explore each individual adventure to uncover what joy you take away.

I read these short, joyful stories from some of my favorite authors like Jason Reynolds, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Tochi Onyebuchi and Jerry Craft and discovered some new authors to me that had me adding their other works to my to read list.

Step through Kwama’s inflatable door to “The Between….the realm between worlds” to remember that joy comes in all forms and can be found if you have your eyes, mind and heart open to discover it.

Review by: 
Erin Dewsbury-Ribeiro