Every year, SparkPoint Studio, the parent company of SparkPress, picks a word to be our north star for the coming year. For 2018, the word was equality. In 2018, we strove to level the playing field—to produce more diverse books by more diverse authors, and to get our hybrid publishing model to be seen as equal to a traditional model.

At SparkPress, we’ve made great strides towards that goal. Working with our publisher Brooke Warner, the IBPA released a list of nine regulations to qualify as a hybrid publisher. These regulations give the moniker hybrid a clear definition and legitimacy. Also, in 2018 we published a number of diverse books, and signed more for 2019.

Today, we’d like to take a moment to celebrate all of the diverse books we published this year.

Engineering a Life by Krishan Bedi

This memoir follows Krishan Bedi, a young immigrant to the United States in the 1960s. He escaped his small village in India on sheer faith and determination with only $300 in his pocket. He moves to Knoxville, Tennessee to pursue his education, and must adjust to the culture shock of being a Punjabi man in the South. This inspiring story of immigration, hard work, and achieving the American Dream reminds us that while not everything will go according to plan, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.

Just Like February by Deborah Batterman

To Rachel, there’s no one in the world like her uncle Jake. He’s handsome, sends her gifts from exotic places, is always a fun escape from her fighting parents—and he’s gay. During the AIDS crisis of the ‘80s, Rachel learns about Jake’s sexuality. She promises to tell no one. Even when Jake gets sick, she keeps his secret under wraps. That is, until she realizes that her silence is doing more harm than good.

The Frontman by Ron Bahar

As the son of Israeli immigrants living in Lincoln, Nebraska, Ron Bahar finds himself living a sort of double life. In this fictionalized memoir, he begins dating a non-Jewish girl, which he has to keep secret from his parents. He also finds himself torn between his two passions of music and medicine. As he lives this double life, keeping one hidden away from his family, he gets pulled further and further into the world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Trouble the Water by Jacqueline Friedland

In this historical fiction novel, Abigail Milton is sent to America to live off the charity of her parents’ friend, Douglas Elling. She finds herself in Charleston during the peak of the slave trade—and the Underground Railroad. After overhearing Douglas planning the escape of a local slave, she attempts to learn more about his involvement in abolition. In a complicated dance of secrets and trust, they begin to work together for the movement.

Mission Afghanistan by Elie Paul Cohen

When Elie Paul Cohen accepts a deal from the French Army—to serve as a liaison emergency doctor in Afghanistan in order to settle his accounts for evading conscription in his youth—he had no idea what he was getting into. This exciting memoir that sometimes reads more like a spy thriller follows him during his time in Afghanistan. It also provides unique insights into the conflict and the medical challenges presented by the expansion of terrorism.

The Leaving Year by Pam McGaffin

When her father is lost at sea while commercial fishing in Alaska and is presumed dead, 15-year-old Ida Petrovich overhears an adult conversation. It shatters everything she thought she knew. In search of answers, she follows a Filipino classmate to Alaska to work at a salmon cannery. In this wild, rugged place, she falls for him and befriends a Native Alaskan girl. Together, Ida learns more about her father than she ever expected, and heals her broken relationship with her mother.