The 100 Best YA Books of All Time
August 11, 2021 7:36 AM EDT

Copper Sun, a Coretta Scott King Award-winning historical novel written by Sharon M. Draper and published in 2006, chronicles the story of 15-year-old Amari, whose life is forever changed when her village in Africa is invaded by slave traders. Amari watches as her parents and younger brother are brutally murdered before she is forced onto a ship, taken to South Carolina and sold to a plantation owner. There, she befriends a white indentured servant, and together they attempt to escape. Draper, who writes in an author’s note that she is the granddaughter of a slave, did exhaustive research to ensure the book’s accuracy, and she describes the brutality of the slave trade in uncommonly graphic detail for a young adult audience. Her fidelity to history ensures that even the most distressing parts of Amari’s story—and there are many—never feel gratuitous. But if the accuracy of the historical details lends the book its heft, it’s the authenticity of Amari’s voice that truly makes it sing. —Shay Maunz

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The original version of this story misstated the name of the central character in Copper Sun. It is Amari, not Amani.

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