Pride Reading List 2021

June is Pride Month and we love books that celebrate love in all its form! Here’s a list of some recent YA titles featuring LGBTQ+ stories.

All Our Hidden Gifts
By Caroline O’Donoghue
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536213942 | Walker Books US
After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school. But when Maeve’s ex–best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn’t at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace. Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily’s gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find – even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself. Set in an Irish town where the church’s tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root, this sharply contemporary story is witty, gripping, and tinged with mysticism.

Continuum
By Chella Man
Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593223482 | Penguin Workshop
“What constructs in your life must you unlearn to support inclusivity and respect for all?” This is a question that artist, actor, and activist Chella Man wrestles with in this powerful and honest essay. A story of coping and resilience, Chella journeys through his experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color, and shows us that identity lies on a continuum – a beautiful, messy, and ever-evolving road of exploration. Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists.

I Think I Love You
By Auriane Desombre
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593179765 | Underlined Paperbacks
Arch-nemeses Emma, a die-hard romantic, and more-practical minded Sophia find themselves competing against one another for a coveted first-prize trip to a film festival in Los Angeles . . . what happens if their rivalry turns into a romance? For fans of Becky Albertalli’s Leah on the Offbeat, full of laugh-out-loud humor and make-your-heart-melt moments.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club
By Malinda Lo
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525555254 | Dutton BFYR
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father – despite his hard-won citizenship – Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
By Lesléa Newman
144 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781536215779 | Candlewick
On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was kidnapped from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. Gay Awareness Week was beginning at the University of Wyoming, and the keynote speaker was Lesléa Newman, discussing her book Heather Has Two Mommies. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience that gathered, but she remained haunted by Matthew’s murder. October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. More than a decade later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember, and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life. Back matter includes an epilogue, an afterword, explanations of poetic forms, and resources.

Off the Record
By Camryn Garrett
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984829993 | Knopf BFYR
Ever since seventeen-year-old Josie Wright can remember, writing has been her identity, the thing that grounds her when everything else is a garbage fire. So when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine, she’s equal parts excited and scared, but also ready. She’s got this. Soon Josie is jetting off on a multi-city tour, rubbing elbows with sparkly celebrities, frenetic handlers, stone-faced producers, and eccentric stylists. She even finds herself catching feelings for the subject of her profile, dazzling young newcomer Marius Canet. Josie’s world is expanding so rapidly, she doesn’t know whether she’s flying or falling. But when a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret, the answer is clear: she’s in over her head. One woman’s account leads to another and another. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she’s reluctant to speak up, unsure if this is her story to tell. What if she lets down the women who have entrusted her with their stories? What if this ends her writing career before it even begins? There are so many reasons not to go ahead, but if Josie doesn’t step up, who will?

Skate for Your Life
By Leo Baker
Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593223475 | Penguin Workshop
“Your authenticity is your superpower.” That’s the motto that professional skateboarder Leo Baker lives by and champions. But like any hero’s journey, learning about their power didn’t come easy. In this installment of the Pocket Change Collective, Baker takes the reader on a complicated, powerful journey through the world of skate and competitive sport as a non-binary athlete.

Some Girls Do
By Jennifer Dugan
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593112533 | Putnam BFYR
Morgan, an elite track athlete, is forced to transfer high schools late in her senior year after it turns out being queer is against her private Catholic school’s code of conduct. There, she meets Ruby, who has two hobbies: tinkering with her baby blue 1970 Ford Torino and competing in local beauty pageants, the latter to live out the dreams of her overbearing mother. The two are drawn to each other and can’t deny their growing feelings. But while Morgan – out and proud, and determined to have a fresh start – doesn’t want to have to keep their budding relationship a secret, Ruby isn’t ready to come out yet. With each girl on a different path toward living her truth, can they go the distance together?

Tell Me My Name
By Amy Reed
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593109724 | Dial BFYR
On wealthy Commodore Island, Fern is watching and waiting – for summer, for college, for her childhood best friend to decide he loves her. Then Ivy Avila lands on the island like a falling star. When Ivy shines on her, Fern feels seen. When they’re together, Fern has purpose. She glimpses the secrets Ivy hides behind her fame, her fortune, the lavish parties she throws at her great glass house, and understands that Ivy hurts in ways Fern can’t fathom. And soon, it’s clear Ivy wants someone Fern can help her get. But as the two pull closer, Fern’s cozy life on Commodore unravels: drought descends, fires burn, and a reckless night spins out of control. Everything Fern thought she understood – about her home, herself, the boy she loved, about Ivy Avila – twists and bends into something new. And Fern won’t emerge the same person she was. An enthralling, mind-altering fever dream, Tell Me My Name is about the cost of being a girl in a world that takes so much, and the enormity of what is regained when we take it back.

The Girls I’ve Been
By Tess Sharpe
368 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593353806 | Putnam BFYR
Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up as her mother’s protégé. But when her mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape. For five years Nora’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:
#1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.
#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:
#3: Right after they enter the bank, two guys start robbing it.
The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage . . .

The Magic Fish
By Trung Le Nguyen
256 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593125298 | Random House Graphic
Real life isn’t a fairytale. But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through? Is there a way to tell them he’s gay? A beautifully illustrated story by Trung Le Nguyen that follows a young boy as he tries to navigate life through fairytales, an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected.

The Passing Playbook
By Isaac Fitzimons
304 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984815408 | Dial BFYR
Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio. At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boys’ soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans – he’s passing. But when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even though it would mean coming out to everyone – including the guy he’s falling for.

YA Books for Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Week is May 3-9, 2021 and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This list of books is a reminder that it’s okay to not be okay and you are not alone. Make sure to take care of yourself and get help if you need to!

Baby and Solo
By Lisabeth Posthuma
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536213034 | Candlewick
Seventeen-year-old Joel Teague has a new prescription from his therapist – a part-time job – the first step toward the elusive Normal life he’s been so desperate to live ever since The Bad Thing happened. Lucky for Joel, ROYO Video is hiring. It’s the perfect fresh start – Joel even gets a new name. Dubbed “Solo” after his favorite Star Wars character, Joel works his way up the not-so-corporate ladder without anyone suspecting What Was Wrong With Him. That is, until he befriends Nicole “Baby” Palmer, a smart-mouthed coworker with a chip on her shoulder about . . . well, everything, and the two quickly develop the kind of friendship movie montages are made of. However, when Joel’s past inevitably catches up with him, he’s forced to choose between preserving his new blank slate persona and coming clean – and either way, he risks losing the first real friend he’s ever had. Set in a pop-culture-rich 1990s, this remarkable story tackles challenging and timely themes with huge doses of wit, power, and heart.

Darius the Great Deserves Better
By Adib Khorram
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593108239 | Dial BFYR
Darius Kellner is having a bit of a year. Since his trip to Iran, a lot has changed. He’s getting along with his dad, and his best friend Sohrab is only a Skype call away. Between his first boyfriend, Landon, varsity soccer practices, and an internship at his favorite tea shop, things are falling into place. Then, of course, everything changes. Darius’s grandmothers are in town for a long visit, and Darius can’t tell whether they even like him. The internship is not going according to plan, Sohrab isn’t answering Darius’ calls, and Dad is far away on business. And Darius is sure he really likes Landon . . . but he’s also been hanging out with Chip Cusumano, former bully and current soccer teammate – and well, maybe he’s not so sure about anything after all. Darius was just starting to feel okay, like he finally knew what it meant to be Darius Kellner. But maybe okay isn’t good enough. Maybe Darius deserves better.

The Beautiful Struggle
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
176 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984894021 | Delacorte BFYR
As a child, Ta-Nehisi Coates was seen by his father, Paul, as too sensitive and lacking focus. Paul Coates was a Vietnam vet who’d been part of the Black Panthers and was dedicated to reading and publishing the history of African civilization. When it came to his sons, he was committed to raising proud Black men equipped to deal with a racist society, during a turbulent period in the collapsing city of Baltimore where they lived. Coates details with candor the challenges of dealing with his tough-love father, the influence of his mother, and the dynamics of his extended family, including his brother “Big Bill,” who was on a very different path than Ta-Nehisi. Coates also tells of his family struggles at school and with girls, making this a timely story to which many readers will relate.

The Lucky Ones
By Liz Lawson
352 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593118528 | Delacorte BFYR
May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through – no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her. Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister . . . and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band. Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.

The Valley and the Flood
By Rebecca Mahoney
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593114353 | Razorbill
Rose Colter is almost home, but she can’t go back there yet. When her car breaks down in the Nevada desert, the silence of the night is broken by a radio broadcast of a voicemail message from her best friend, Gaby. A message Rose has listened to countless times over the past year. The last one Gaby left before she died. So Rose follows the lights from the closest radio tower to Lotus Valley, a small town where prophets are a dime a dozen, secrets lurk in every shadow, and the diner pie is legendary. And according to Cassie Cyrene, the town’s third most accurate prophet, they’ve been waiting for her. Because Rose’s arrival is part of a looming prophecy, one that says a flood will destroy Lotus Valley in just three days’ time. Rose believes if the prophecy comes true then it will confirm her worst fear – the PTSD she was diagnosed with after Gaby’s death has changed her in ways she can’t face. So with help from new friends, Rose sets out to stop the flood, but her connection to it, and to this strange little town, runs deeper than she could’ve imagined. Debut author Rebecca Mahoney delivers an immersive and captivating novel about magical places, found family, the power of grief and memory, and the journey toward reconciling who you think you’ve become with the person you’ve been all along.

The Year After You
By Nina De Pass
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593120767 | Delacorte BFYR
San Francisco. New Year’s Eve. A tragic accident after the party of the year. Cara survives. Her best friend, G, doesn’t. Nine months later, Cara is still struggling, consumed by grief and a dark secret she’d rather forget. In the hopes of offering a fresh start, her mother sends her to boarding school in Switzerland, a place where no one knows what happened – and where they never will, if Cara can help it. But her new classmates Ren and Hector won’t let her close herself off. They are determined to break down the walls she has so carefully built up. And maybe Cara wants them to . . . especially Hector, who seems to understand her like no one else does. The problem is that the closer Cara gets to Hector, the more G slips away. If moving on means letting go of the past – and admitting what she did that night – Cara’s not sure how. But a second chance awaits, if she can only find the strength within herself.

Verona Comics
By Jennifer Dugan
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525516309 | Putnam BFYR
Jubilee has it all together. She’s an elite cellist, and when she’s not working in her stepmom’s indie comic shop, she’s prepping for the biggest audition of her life. Ridley is barely holding it together. His parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country, and Ridley can’t stop disappointing them – that is, when they’re even paying attention. They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. Too bad their parents are at each other’s throats every chance they get, making a relationship between them nearly impossible . . . unless they manage to keep it a secret. Then again, the feud between their families may be the least of their problems. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: 2 Books About Costumed Jobs

For some, summer comes with a new job that is less than exciting. Have you ever had to dress up in a costume for a job? Here are two reads and a title generator for your own novel!

Chicken GirlChicken Girl
By Heather Smith
ISBN 9780143198680 | Penguin Teen Canada
Hardcover | 240 pages | Ages 12+
Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she’s having trouble seeing the good in the world. As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waver outside a restaurant. There, Poppy meets six-year-old girl Miracle, who helps Poppy see beyond her own pain, opening her eyes to the people around her: Cam, her twin brother, who is adjusting to life as an openly gay teen; Buck, a charming photographer with a cute British accent and a not-so-cute mean-streak; and Lewis a teen caring for an ailing parent, while struggling to reach the final stages of his gender transition. As the summer unfolds, Poppy stops glorifying the past and starts focusing on the present. But just as she comes to terms with the fact that there is good and bad in everyone, she is tested by a deep betrayal.

Hot Dog GirlHot Dog Girl
By Jennifer Dugan
ISBN 9780525516255 | G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR
Hardcover | 320 Pages | Ages 12+
Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

  • She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
  • Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
  • Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
  • And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland – ever -unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love – and themselves – in unexpected people and unforgettable places.

Now make your own title – and don’t forget to choose a genre!

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Pride Reads 2019

Pride month might be almost over but that doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating! We’ve made a list of some of our recent titles featuring LGBTQ+ characters – check them out below and let us know which ones you’ve read!

BONUS: We put together a #pridemonth playlist for your listening pleasure – we recommend putting it on shuffle and reading (or, let’s be real, dancing) the night away.