Pride Reading List 2022

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.

Bitter
By Akwaeke Emezi
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593309032 | Knopf BFYR
After a childhood in foster care, Bitter is thrilled to have been chosen to attend Eucalyptus, a special school where she can focus on her painting surrounded by other creative teens. But outside this haven, the streets are filled with protests against the deep injustices that grip the city of Lucille. Bitter’s instinct is to stay safe within the walls of Eucalyptus . . . but  her  friends  aren’t  willing  to  settle  for  a  world  that’s  so  far  away from what they deserve. Pulled between old friendships, her artistic passion, and a new romance, Bitter isn’t sure where she  belongs – in  the  studio  or  in  the  streets.  And  if  she  does  find a way to help the revolution while being true to who she is, she must also ask: at what cost? This  timely  and  riveting  novel – a  companion  to  the  National  Book Award finalist Pet – explores the power of youth, protest, and art.

Both Sides Now
By Peyton Thomas
300 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269750 | Penguin Teen Canada
There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, DC, and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls. And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality. Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity. People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things – like who you are and who you love – are not up for debate.

Hell Followed With Us
By Andrew Joseph White
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781682633243 | Peachtree Teen
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him – the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with. But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all.  Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s term . . . until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.

Iron Widow
By Xiran Jay Zhao
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735269934 | Penguin Teen Canada
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected – she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way – and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Kings of B’more
By R. Eric Thomas
416 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593326183 | Kokila
With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he’s on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that – it’s like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend, Linus, will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: He’s moving out of state at the end of the week. To keep from completely losing it – and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his dad – Harrison plans a send-off à la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that’s worthy of his favorite person. If they won’t be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day together. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things – big and small – they’ve been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.

Kiss & Tell
By Adib Khorram
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593325261 | Dial Books
Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend – leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all – and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens. But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the star of the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble – for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.

Man o’ War
By Cory McCarthy
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593353707 | Dutton BFYR
River McIntyre has grown up down the street from Sea Planet, an infamous marine life theme park slowly going out of business in small-town Ohio. When a chance encounter with a happy, healthy queer person on the annual field trip lands River literally in the shark tank, they must admit the truth: they don’t know who they are – only what they’ve been told to be. This sets off a wrenching journey of self-discovery, from internalized homophobia and gender dysphoria, through layers of coming out, affirmation surgery, and true freakin’ love.

Melt With You
By Jennifer Dugan
320 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593112564 | Putnam BFYR
Fallon is Type A, looks before she leaps, and always has a plan (and a backup plan). Chloe is happy-go-lucky, flies by the seat of her pants, and always follows her bliss. The two girls used to be best friends, but last summer they hooked up right before Chloe left for college, and after a series of misunderstandings, they aren’t even speaking to each other. A year later, Chloe’s back home from school, and Fallon is doing everything in her power to avoid her. Which is especially difficult because their moms own a business together – a gourmet ice cream truck where both girls work. When a meeting with some promising potential investors calls their parents away at the last minute, it’s up to Fallon to work a series of important food truck festivals across the country. But she can’t do it alone, and Chloe is the only one available to help. Tensions heat up again between the two girls as they face a few unexpected detours – and more than a little roadside attraction. But maybe, just maybe, the best things in life can’t always be planned.

Nate Plus One
By Kevin Van Whye
256  Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593376423 | Random House BFYR
Nate Hargraves is a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. That’s why he dreams of being a songwriter instead of a singer. But things change the summer after junior year as Nate gets ready to fly to South Africa for his cousin’s lavish destination wedding. The trip is bound to be epic. Except – Nate just found out that his ex-boyfriend will be at the reception. Ugh. He does not want to face this one solo. Jai Patel, Nate’s best friend (and secret crush), has his own problems. The lead singer of Jai’s band, Infinite Sorrow, quit weeks before a contest that promised to be their big break. But Nate rocks Jai’s world when he agrees to sing with the band. Even though Nate’s not one for the spotlight, he knows this is the kind of stuff you do for . . . friends. In return, Jai volunteers to be Nate’s travel buddy around South Africa, a buffer against his ex, and his plus-one at the wedding. Maybe this summer will be epic after all. Now that Nate’s crush is on board, will love crash the party?

Right Where I Left You
By Julian Winters
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593206478 | Viking BFYR
Isaac Martin is ready to kick off summer. His last before heading off to college in the fall where he won’t have his best friend, Diego. Where – despite his social anxiety – he’ll be left to make friends on his own. Knowing his time with Diego is limited, Isaac enacts a foolproof plan: snatch up a pair of badges for the epic comic convention, Legends Con, and attend his first ever Teen Pride. Just him and Diego. But when an unexpected run-in with Davi – Isaac’s old crush – distracts him the day tickets go on sale, suddenly he’s two badges short of a perfect summer. Even worse, now he’s left making it up to Diego by hanging with him and his gamer buddies. Decidedly NOT part of the original plan. It’s not all bad, though. Some of Diego’s friends turn out to be pretty cool, and when things with Davi start heating up, Isaac is almost able to forget about his Legends Con blunder. Almost. Because then Diego finds out what really happened that day with Davi, and their friendship lands on thin ice. Isaac assumes he’s upset about missing the convention, but could Diego have other reasons for avoiding Isaac?

Swimming in the Moonsoon Sea
By Shyam Selvadurai
280 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781774880333 | Tundra Books
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Shyam Selvadurai’s brilliant novels, Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens, have garnered him international acclaim. In his first young adult novel, now with a new cover, he explores first love with clarity, humor and compassion. The setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life “before,” when his doting mother was still alive. Amrith’s holiday plans seem unpromising: he wants to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin arrives from Canada and Amrith’s ordered life is storm-tossed. He finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy. Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed.

The Gifts That Bind Us
By Caroline O’Donoghue
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536222227 | Walker Books
It’s senior year, and Maeve and her friends are practicing and strengthening their mystical powers, while Maeve’s new relationship with Roe is exhilarating. But as Roe’s rock star dreams start to take shape, and Fiona and Lily make plans for faraway colleges, Maeve, who struggles in school, worries about life without them – will she be selling incense here in Kilbeg, Ireland, until she’s fifty? Alarm bells sound for the coven when the Children of Brigid, a right-wing religious organization, quickly gains influence throughout the city – and when its charismatic front man starts visiting Maeve in her dreams. When Maeve’s power starts to wane, the friends realize that all the local magic is being drained – or rather, stolen. With lines increasingly blurred between friend and foe, the supernatural and the psychological, Maeve and the others must band together to protect the place, and the people, they love.

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester
By Maya MacGregor
360 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781635923599 | Astra Young Readers
Sam Sylvester has long collected stories of half-lived lives – of kids who died before they turned nineteen. Sam was almost one of those kids. Now, as Sam’s own nineteenth birthday approaches, their recent near-death experience haunts them. They’re certain they don’t have much time left . . . . But Sam’s life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, their next-door neighbor. Yet the past keeps roaring back – in Sam’s memories and in the form of a thirty-year-old suspicious death that took place in Sam’s new home. Sam can’t resist trying to find out more about the kid who died and who now seems to guide their investigation. When Sam starts receiving threatening notes, they know they’re on the path to uncovering a murderer. But are they digging through the past or digging their own future grave? The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester explores healing in the aftermath of trauma and the fullness of queer joy.

Tundra Telegram: Books to Verse-Shift-fy Your Shelf

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, a column in which we look at the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some recent great books to continue the discussion.

One movie we can’t stop thinking about – and neither can some of our fellow readers and authors – is the Michelle Yeoh-starring, Daniels-directed action movie, Everything Everywhere All at Once (or EEAAO, for short). The frenetic action-drama-comedy is unlike much else currently on movie screens, but we’re thinking some page-turners might be able to fill the gap. Whether it’s the multiple parallel dimensions, the over-the-top martial arts action, or the multigenerational family conflict that appeals to you most about the film, we’ve got a few book recommendations that “every rejection, every disappointment has led you” to.

PICTURE BOOKS

Let’s face it, there aren’t a ton of picture books about alternate dimensions (yet), but a book that combines family with something a little superhuman – and one that mixes a few tears with laughs and a comic-booky premise, is Minh Lê and Dan Santat’s The Blur, in which a superhuman child zips and zooms through her childhood, with her parents frantically trying to keep up.

If your picture book story times could use a little more fight choreography, you’ll want to check out The Rise (and Falls) of Jackie Chan, a picture book biography of the inimitable action star by Kristen Mai Giang and Alina Chau. Read this book closely enough and you might be able to do what Waymond Wang does with a fanny pack.

And this may be a stretch, but if your favorite part of the movie involved a rock with googly eyes, you should definitely check out Marianna Coppo’s Petra, a picture book about a rock willing to just roll with the circumstances.

MIDDLE GRADE

S. G. Wilson’s Me vs. the Multiverse series (Pleased to Meet Me and Enough about Me) follows Meade Macon, a young boy who learns about the mysteries of the multiverse (and the many Meades), as first revealed to him in the form of a note written on an origami octopus.

Christopher Edge’s science-fiction adventure, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright follows a young boy who grieves the death of his astrophysicist mother by searching for her by universe-hopping to alternate timelines. And in his search, he stumbles upon the answers to life’s most challenging questions. (Seems like a positive side effect.)

For a little Canadian content in your multiverse meanderings, read Downside Up by Richard Scrimger. In it, Fred isn’t grieving his mother, but his dearly departed dog Casey, when he falls down a sewer grate into an alternate universe. In this other version of life, his dog is alive, his mom and sister are happier, and the version of him is happier, too. But something’s not quite as it seems.

We consider tax returns the adult equivalent of homework, so Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend by Katie Zhao, featuring a girl tackling school projects, family troubles, and otherworldly chaos follows EEAAO pretty closely plot-wise. Add to that a heroine who must quickly embrace new powers to save the world and you have a legendary book recommendation.

If the blend of family history, queer coming-out story, and the fantastic most appealed to you in the movie, you might like the widely acclaimed graphic novel The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen. Not only are those elements present, so is the generational conflict between first- and second-generation Asian immigrants – and the imagery is just as (googly) eye-opening!

YOUNG ADULT

If, like Evelyn Wang, you have lived a life of some regret, wondering how the many small choices you’ve made led you to where you are now, you’ll want to check out Kristin Cashore’s Jane, Unlimited. The book by the author of the Graceling series follows Jane, a girl with no direction a year out of high school, who is invited to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens. What she doesn’t know is Tu Reviens is a world of infinite choices that will ultimately determine the course of her currently untethered life.

If the Sliding Doorsesque idea of the parallel worlds created by seemingly simple choices intrigues you, may we also suggest Again, Again by TikTok’s favorite author, E. Lockhart? What if there were alternates universes and different version of you, who acted differently and made different choices to the same trying circumstances in life? Could you be braver, happier, lonelier? More in love? Questions that lie at the heart of both the film and this book.

And for reasons that will be clear only to those who have seen Everything Everywhere All at Once in all its bananas glory, we also suggest Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan. (IYKYK!)

#12DaysOfJanYouAry – Week 2

This January is all about YOU and what YOU want to read! We asked 12 readers what 2021 books they hope to pick up soon and we’re sharing them for the #12DaysOfJanYouAry. Here are the final six – make sure to follow along on Instagram as well!

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?

“My 2021 vibe has been all YA all the time, and I’m always intrigued by anything sapphic! The cover is stunning AND blurbed by Casey McQuiston?! Sign me up!”
@grayscalebooks

Spells Like Teen Spirit
By Kate M. Williams
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593304822 | Delacorte Press
Ever since Esme met Cassandra Heaven and discovered the truth about their shared legacy – that they’re Sitters, supernaturally gifted teens tasked with protecting the innocent from evil – her life has been moving at 90 mph. During the day, she chases wild toddlers, and at night, she employs a different skill set for a different kind of demon. Like, literal ones. And sometimes it’s almost fun. Her spells are getting better, her telekinesis is on point, and now that Esme’s dad and her best friend Janis know the truth, she’s no longer lying to the people she loves. She’s also learned that there’s a way to undo her mother’s curse, and with the Synod out of the picture, she might even have a chance to do it. If she could just figure out how. But she can’t, and even with her mom living at home again, Esme can’t shake the feeling that she’s failing. Throw in the fact that Pig is still gone, Esme’s crush is MIA, and it’s cold, slushy February, and she’s in bummer city. Esme needs a serious pick-me-up, and Janis has a plan: a Galentine’s stay-cation, with the Sitter friends Esme and Cassandra made at the Summit. Except things are getting weird in Spring River again. Esme and Cassandra just discovered a new band, and not in a good way: these guys reek of Red Magic, and their music sucks. Trouble is brewing, and if Esme’s not careful, this show might be her last – and no one likes a one-hit wonder.

“The title of the book alone had me immediately adding it to my TBR but the fact that I had two books before this one to read had me all over it. Sign me up for anything packed with magic and girl power.”
@literaryscents13

Fast Pitch
By Nic Stone
192 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984893017 | Crown BFYR
Shenice Lockwood, captain of the Fulton Firebirds, is hyper-focused when she steps up to the plate. Nothing can stop her from leading her team to the U12 fast-pitch softball regional championship. But life has thrown some curveballs her way.
Strike one: As the sole team of all-brown faces, Shenice and the Firebirds have to work twice as hard to prove that Black girls belong at bat.
Strike two: Shenice’s focus gets shaken when her great-uncle Jack reveals that a career-ending – and family-name-ruining – crime may have been a setup.
Strike three: Broken focus means mistakes on the field. Shenice’s teammates are beginning to wonder if she’s captain-qualified.
It’s up to Shenice to discover the truth about her family’s past – and fast – before secrets take the Firebirds out of the game forever.

“Written by the magnificent Nic Stone ✔️
Girls playing softball ✔️
Uncovering the past ✔️
Should be fun, let’s play ball! ”
@onmybookitlist

The Righteous
By Renée Ahdieh
432 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984812612 | Putnam BFYR
Following the explosive events of The Damned, Odette faces a vampire’s final death. The Court of the Lions have done everything they can to save her but have failed. A healer from the Sylvan Vale could help her, but only Arjun Desai, as a half fey, can cross the boundary between realms. The Sylvan Vale is a world Arjun despises, and in return, it despises him. But knowing it could save Odette, he returns to the Vale with all haste, leaving the mirrored tare between two worlds open and unwittingly setting the stage for both love and war. It’s mere days until Pippa Montrose is to wed Phoebus Devereux and become a member of his well-heeled family, offering salvation to her own. But Celine is missing. Pippa has no idea where her best friend has gone, but she’s certain it’s in the company of vampire Sébastien Saint Germain and that Arjun can lead her to them. Pippa enjoins the help of Eloise, the daughter of a powerful sorceress, to discover the gateway Arjun uses to travel between worlds. Pippa, tired of hesitating in life, marches right through in search of her friend. But what she discovers on the other side is a dangerous, duplicitous world full of mischief and magic she doesn’t understand, and most unexpectedly, she finds love.

“First, this series has gorgeous covers (instant cover buy)! Second, there are vampires and romance (take all my money)! Third, Ahdieh’s writing style and characters will draw readers into this mythical version of New Orleans. ”
@abookishstar

Small Favors
By Erin A. Craig
480 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593306741 | Delacorte Press
Ellerie Downing is waiting for something to happen. Life in isolated Amity Falls, surrounded by an impenetrable forest, has a predictable sameness. Her days are filled with tending to her family’s beehives, chasing after her sisters, and dreaming of bigger things while her twin, Samuel, is free to roam as he wishes. Early town settlers fought off monstrous creatures in the woods, and whispers that the creatures still exist keep the Downings and their neighbors from venturing too far. When some townsfolk go missing on a trip to fetch supplies, a heavy unease settles over the Falls. Strange activities begin to plague the town, and as the seasons change, it’s clear that something is terribly wrong. The creatures are real, and they’re offering to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand, for just a small favor. These seemingly trifling demands, however, hide sinister intentions. Soon Ellerie finds herself in a race against time to stop Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves from going up in flames.

“The cover immediately drew me in, the art is just gorgeous. Also the summary sounds amazing. Beekeeping? It’s so interesting and rarely any books feature it. I can’t wait to learn more about beekeeping. This haunting tale seems like the perfect read for 2022.”
@she_who_reads_ya_books

Beasts of Prey
By Ayana Gray
496 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593405680 | Putnam BFYR
There’s no such thing as magic in the broken city of Lkossa, especially for sixteen-year-old Koffi, who holds a power within her that could only be described as magic – a power that if discovered could cost her life. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, Koffi knows the fearsome creatures in her care and paying off her family’s debts to secure their eventual freedom can be her only focus. But the night those she loves are gravely threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi finally unleashes the power she doesn’t fully understand, upending her life completely. As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six – an elite warrior – and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, Ekon encounters not only the Shetani – a vicious monster that has plagued the city for nearly a century and stalks his nightmares, but Koffi who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior. Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani could also be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon form a tentative alliance and together enter the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild, frightening magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.

“Can we just take a minute to appreciate this stunning cover?! Magical creatures, hunt or be hunted? I’m so ready for this wild (pun intended) adventure.”
@ilikescarystories

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?