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YA Summer Reading - Pride Edition

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 04, 2021

Happy Pride Month! For those who want to celebrate with books, here are some newer YA titles featuring queer characters and relationships like this fun story about cousins setting out on a Pride road trip. We've divided them up into a variety of genres, and tried to include a diverse mix of authors and cultures.

Coming-Out Coming-Of-Age

Coming out can be a big deal. Reading stories about the experience can be inspiring and empowering.

  • Brainy, awkward Liz never thought she'd go for prom queen, but she's desperate for the scholarship that comes with the crown. Leah Johnson's You Should See Me in a Crown is smart, hilarious, Black girl magic.
  • From Dahlia Adler, Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It's about the things we want and the things we need. And it's about the people who will let us be who we are.
  • In The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch, Sky's small town turns absolutely claustrophobic when his secret promposal plans get leaked to the entire school in this witty, heartfelt, and ultimately hopeful debut novel.
  • In The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar, Nishat doesn't want to hide who she is, but she also doesn't want to lose her family. And her life only gets more complicated once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Why's it Gotta Be Gay?

It's normalizing to see people who identify as queer in stories that aren't just about that one thing. Here are some stories that feature LGBT characters dealing with other kinds of challenges, having adventures, and just doing cool stuff.

  • In Off the Record by Camryn Garrett, The behind-the-scenes access of Almost Famous meets the searing revelations of #metoo in this story of a teen journalist who uncovers the scandal of the decade.
  • In Miel Moreland's It Goes Like This, four teens navigate fame and turmoil as the members of a queer pop band that's hit the big time. When drama breaks the band apart, their future as friends is uncertain.
  • Project Runway goes to Comic Con in Be Dazzled, an epic queer love story by Ryan La Sala. Costumer Raffy is determined to win the big cosplay competition. Only one wrinkle: his main competition is his ex-boyfriend.
  • After his brother is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Liam is having a hard time coping. The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver is about grief, but it's also about why we live, and how to move on after a devastating loss.

I Like the Pictures

We've fallen in love with these graphic novels featuring all kinds of characters.

Alternative Realities

From time travel to necromancers, here are some YA novels that will transport readers to other worlds.

(Trans)formation Stories

Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. While transition can be a difficult process, trans individuals express joy and relief in being able to live in bodies that match the way they feel on the inside.

  • Dean Foster knows he's a trans guy. But everyone at his high school thinks he's a lesbian, even his girlfriend. By Ray Stoeve, Between Perfect and Real is the story of Dean figuring out how to be his true self.
  • From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes Felix Ever After, a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.
  • Jasper Sanchez's #ownvoices debut The (Un)Popular Vote, chronicling a transmasculine student's foray into a no-holds-barred student body president election against the wishes of his politician father.
  • All Kinds of Other by James Sie is a coming-of-age love story about two boys—one trans, one cis. Both have become accustomed to guarding their hearts. Will their feelings for each other give them a reason to open up?

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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