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What’s new in LGBTQIA+ YA June and July 2019

It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers June and July 2019 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (May 2019) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2018 master list. I’m working on the 2019 list. I’m happy to send you any list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

Looking for more information on LGBTQIA+ books or issues? Check out the hashtag here on TLT and go visit YA Pride and LGBTQ Reads, two phenomenal resources. 

June 2019

Not Your Backup (Sidekick Squad Series #3) by C. B. Lee (ISBN-13: 9781945053788 Publisher: Interlude Press Publication date: 06/01/2019 Series: Sidekick Squad Series #3)

Emma Robledo has a few more responsibilities that the usual high school senior, but then again, she and her friends have left school to lead a fractured Resistance movement against a corrupt Heroes League of Heroes. Emma is the only member of a supercharged team without powers, she isnt always taken seriously. A natural leader, Emma is determined to win this battle, and when thats done, get back to school. As the Resistance moves to challenge the League, Emma realizes where her place is in this fight: at the front.

All Eyes on Us by Kit Frick (ISBN-13: 9781534404403 Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication date: 06/04/2019)

Pretty Little Liars meets People Like Us in this taut, tense thriller about two teens who find their lives intertwined when an anonymous texter threatens to spill their secrets and uproot their lives.

PRIVATE NUMBER: Wouldn’t you look better without a cheater on your arm?
AMANDA: Who is this?

The daughter of small town social climbers, Amanda Kelly is deeply invested in her boyfriend, real estate heir Carter Shaw. He’s kind, ambitious, the town golden boy—but he’s far from perfect. Because behind Amanda’s back, Carter is also dating Rosalie.

PRIVATE NUMBER: I’m watching you, Sweetheart.
ROSALIE: Who IS this?

Rosalie Bell is fighting to remain true to herself and her girlfriend—while concealing her identity from her Christian fundamentalist parents. After years spent in and out of conversion “therapy,” her own safety is her top priority. But maintaining a fake, straight relationship is killing her from the inside.

When an anonymous texter ropes Amanda and Rosalie into a bid to take Carter down, the girls become collateral damage—and unlikely allies in a fight to unmask their stalker before Private uproots their lives.

PRIVATE NUMBER: You shouldn’t have ignored me. Now look what you made me do…

The Confusion of Laurel Graham by Adrienne Kisner (ISBN-13: 9781250146045 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/04/2019)

A teen copes with her grandmother’s coma by becoming obsessed with a mystery bird that she cannot identify in Adrienne Kisner’s sharp and poignant YA novel, The Confusion of Laurel Graham.

Seventeen-year-old Laurel Graham has a singular, all-consuming ambition in this life: become the most renowned nature photographer and birder in the world. The first step to birding domination is to win the junior nature photographer contest run by prominent Fauna magazine. Winning runs in her blood—her beloved activist and nature-loving grandmother placed when she was a girl.

One day Gran drags Laurel out on a birding expedition where the pair hear a mysterious call that even Gran can’t identify. The pair vow to find out what it is together, but soon after, Gran is involved in a horrible car accident.

Now that Gran is in a coma, so much of Laurel’s world is rocked. Her gran’s house is being sold, developers are coming in to destroy the nature sanctuary she treasures, and she still can’t seem to identify the mystery bird.

Laurel’s confusion isn’t just a group of warblers—it’s about what means the most to her, and what she’s willing to do to fight to save it. Maybe—just maybe-if she can find the mystery bird, it will save her gran, the conservatory land, and herself.

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian (ISBN-13: 9780062839367 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/04/2019)

“A love letter to queerness, self-expression, and individuality (also Madonna) that never shies away from the ever-present fear within the queer community of late ’80s New York, Like a Love Story made me feel so full—of hope, love, courage, pride, and awe for the many people who fought for love and self-expression in the face of discrimination, cruelty, and death.

“A book for warriors, divas, artists, queens, individuals, activists, trend setters, and anyone searching for the courage to be themselves.”—Mackenzi Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart—and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

This is a bighearted, sprawling epic about friendship and love and the revolutionary act of living life to the fullest in the face of impossible odds.

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann (ISBN-13: 9781250192677 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/04/2019)

Claire Kann’s If It Makes You Happy is a coming-of-age novel about a young girl learning to embrace her cultural and sexuality identity.

Winnie is living her best fat girl life and is on her way to the best place on earth. No, not Disneyland—her Granny’s diner, Goldeen’s, in the small town of Misty Haven. While there, she works in her fabulous 50’s inspired uniform, twirling around the diner floor and earning an obscene amount of tips. With her family and ungirlfriend at her side, she has everything she needs for one last perfect summer before starting college in the fall.

…until she becomes Misty Haven’s Summer Queen in a highly anticipated matchmaking tradition that she wants absolutely nothing to do with.

Newly crowned, Winnie is forced to take center stage in photoshoots and a never-ending list of community royal engagements. Almost immediately, she discovers that she’s deathly afraid of it all: the spotlight, the obligations, and the way her Merry Haven Summer King, wears his heart, humor, and honesty on his sleeve.

Stripped of Goldeen’s protective bubble, to salvage her summer Winnie must conquer her fears, defy expectations, and be the best Winnie she knows she can be—regardless of what anyone else thinks of her.

Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas (ISBN-13: 9781547600021 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/04/2019)

Critically-acclaimed author Leah Thomas blends a small-town setting with the secrets of a long-ago crime, in a compelling novel about breaking free from the past.

In Samsboro, Kentucky, Kalyn Spence’s name is inseparable from the brutal murder her father committed when he was a teenager. Forced to return to town, Kalyn must attend school under a pseudonym . . . or face the lingering anger of Samsboro’s citizens, who refuse to forget the crime.

Gus Peake has never had the luxury of redefining himself. A Samsboro native, he’s either known as the “disabled kid” because of his cerebral palsy, or as the kid whose dad was murdered. Gus just wants to be known as himself.

When Gus meets Kalyn, her frankness is refreshing, and they form a deep friendship. Until their families’ pasts emerge. And when the accepted version of the truth is questioned, Kalyn and Gus are caught in the center of a national uproar. Can they break free from a legacy of inherited lies and chart their own paths forward?

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi (ISBN-13: 9781250299482 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 06/11/2019)

Aminah Mae Safi’s Tell Me How You Really Feel is an ode to romantic comedies, following two girls on opposite sides of the social scale as they work together to make a movie and try very hard not to fall in love.

The first time Sana Khan asked out a girl–Rachel Recht—it went so badly that she never did it again. Rachel is a film buff and aspiring director, and she’s seen Carrie enough times to learn you can never trust cheerleaders (and beautiful people). Rachel was furious that Sana tried to prank her by asking her on a date.

But when it comes time for Rachel to cast her senior project, she realizes that there’s no more perfect lead than Sana—the girl she’s sneered at in the halls for the past three years. And poor Sana—she says yes. She never did really get over that first crush, even if Rachel can barely stand to be in the same room as her.

Told in alternative viewpoints and set against the backdrop of Los Angeles in the springtime, when the rainy season rolls in and the Santa Ana’s can still blow—these two girls are about to learn that in the city of dreams, anything is possible—even love.

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante (ISBN-13: 9780525514022 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/11/2019)

This stunning YA debut is a timely and heartfelt speculative narrative about healing, faith, and freedom.

Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol’s mother as a maid. When she pictured an American life for herself, she dreamed of a life like Aimee and Amber’s, the title characters of her favorite American TV show. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.

But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She’s asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It’s a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything. She just never imagined one of the risks would be falling in love, a love that may even be powerful enough to finally help her face her own crushing grief.

The Grief Keeper is a tender tale that explores the heartbreak and consequences of when both love and human beings are branded illegal.

A Queer History of the United States for Young People by Michael Bronski (ISBN-13: 9780807056127 Publisher: Beacon Press Publication date: 06/11/2019 Series: ReVisioning American History for Young People Series #1)

Queer history didn’t start with Stonewall. This book explores how LGBTQ people have always been a part of our national identity, contributing to the country and culture for over 400 years.

It is crucial for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth to know their history. But this history is not easy to find since it’s rarely taught in schools or commemorated in other ways. A Queer History of the United States for Young People corrects this and demonstrates that LGBTQ people have long been vital to shaping our understanding of what America is today. 

Through engrossing narratives, letters, drawings, poems, and more, the book encourages young readers, of all identities, to feel pride at the accomplishments of the LGBTQ people who came before them and to use history as a guide to the future. Here we meet: 
* Indigenous tribes who embraced same-sex relationships and a multiplicity of gender identities.
* Emily Dickinson, brilliant nineteenth-century poet who wrote about her desire for women.
* Gladys Bentley, Harlem blues singer who challenged restrictive cross-dressing laws in the 1920s.
* Bayard Rustin, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s close friend, civil rights organizer, and an openly gay man.
* Sylvia Rivera, cofounder of STAR, the first transgender activist group in the US in 1970.
* Kiyoshi Kuromiya, civil rights and antiwar activist who fought for people living with AIDS.
* Jamie Nabozny, activist who took his LGBTQ school bullying case to the Supreme Court.
* Aidan DeStefano, teen who brought a federal court case for trans-inclusive bathroom policies. 
* And many more!

With over 60 illustrations and photos, a glossary, and a corresponding curriculum, A Queer History of the United States for Young People will be vital for teachers who want to introduce a new perspective to America’s story.

Rise by Ellen Goodlett (ISBN-13: 9780316515351 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 06/11/2019 Series: Rule Series #2)

Dark pasts and forbidden romances haunt three ambitious sisters as they fight to inherit the throne in this sequel to Rule, which New York Timesbestselling author Elly Blake called “dazzling” and “pulse-pounding.”

Sisters Akeylah, Ren, and Zofi are all a step closer to their dying father’s throne, a step closer to the crown that will allow one of them to rule over Kolonya. But the sisters’ pasts continue to haunt them. Each hides a secret marked with blood and betrayal, and now their blackmailer is holding nothing back. When King Andros discovers the sisters’ traitorous pasts, the consequences will shake the entire kingdom to its core.

As Kolonya’s greatest threat stalks closer and closer, weaving a web of fear and deceit around Ren, Zofi, and Akeylah, even the people they love are under suspicion. If the sisters are going to survive, they’ll have to learn to trust each other above all else and work together, not only to save themselves, but to protect everyone and everything they hold dear.

With shocking reveals and suspenseful storytelling, this breathtaking sequel to Rule will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith (ISBN-13: 9781534437180 Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication date: 06/18/2019)

For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor & Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?

All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil (ISBN-13: 9781641290340 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 06/18/2019)

Michelle Ruiz Keil’s YA fantasy debut about love, found family, and healing is an ode to post-punk San Francisco through the eyes of a Mexican-American girl.

Seventeen-year-old Xochi is alone in San Francisco, running from her painful past: the mother who abandoned her, the man who betrayed her. Then one day, she meets Pallas, a precocious twelve-year-old who lives with her rockstar family in one of the city’s storybook Victorians. Xochi accepts a position as Pallas’s live-in governess and quickly finds her place in the girl’s tight-knit household, which operates on a free-love philosophy and easy warmth despite the band’s growing fame. 

But on the night of the Vernal Equinox, as a concert afterparty rages in the house below, Xochi and Pallas perform a riot-grrrl ritual in good fun, accidentally summoning a pair of ancient beings bound to avenge the wrongs of Xochi’s past. She would do anything to preserve her new life, but with the creatures determined to exact vengeance on those who’ve hurt her, no one is safe—not the family Xochi’s chosen, nor the one she left behind.

Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron (ISBN-13: 9781250149930 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Publication date: 06/18/2019)

From Sophie Cameron, the author of Out of the Blue, comes a novel of magic, adventure, and what it means to truly belong.

Brody Fair feels like nobody gets him: not his overworked parents, not his genius older brother, and definitely not the girls in the projects set on making his life miserable. Then he meets Nico, an art student who takes Brody to Everland, a “knock-off Narnia” that opens its door at 11:21pm each Thursday for Nico and his band of present-day misfits and miscreants.

Here Brody finds his tribe and a weekly respite from a world where he feels out of place. But when the doors to Everland begin to disappear, Brody is forced to make a decision: He can say goodbye to Everland and to Nico, or stay there and risk never seeing his family again. Will Nico take the last bus to Everland?

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson (ISBN-13: 9781338335460 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 06/25/2019)

A hilarious, snarky, and utterly addicting #ownvoices debut that explores friendship, sexual orientation, mental health, and falling in love (even if things might be falling apart around you).

When a guy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II texts you, it should be obvious who you’re talking to. Except there’s two of them (it’s a long story), and Haley thinks she’s talking to the one she doesn’t hate.

A question about a class project rapidly evolves into an all-consuming conversation. Haley finds that Martin is actually willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. Haley and Martin might be too awkward to hang out in real life, but over text, they’re becoming addicted to each other.

There’s just one problem: Haley doesn’t know who Martin is. And Martin doesn’t know that Haley doesn’t know. But they better figure it out fast before their meet-cute becomes an epic meet-disaster . . .

July 2019

Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller (ISBN-13: 9780062456748 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/02/2019)

A crucial, genre-bending tale, equal parts Ned Vizzini and Patrick Ness, about the life-saving power of friendship.

Solomon and Ash both experienced a traumatic event when they were twelve.

Ash lost all memory of that event when she fell from Solomon’s treehouse. Since then, Solomon has retreated further and further into a world he seems to have created in his own mind. One that insulates him from reality, but crawls with foes and monsters . . . in both animal and human form.

As Solomon slips further into the place he calls Darkside, Ash realizes her only chance to free her best friend from his pain is to recall exactly what happened that day in his backyard and face the truth—together.

Fearless and profound, Sam J. Miller’s follow up to his award-winning debut novel, The Art of Starving, spins an intimate and impactful tale that will linger with readers.

An Impossible Distance to Fall by Miriam McNamara (ISBN-13: 9781510735453 Publisher: Sky Pony Publication date: 07/02/2019)

A story about falling—falling from grace, falling in love—as well as soaring to heights you wouldn’t know were possible if you never stepped out into thin air.

A story about falling—falling from grace, falling in love—as well as soaring to heights you wouldn’t know were possible if you never stepped out into thin air.

It’s 1930, and Birdie William’s life has crashed along with the stock market. Her father’s bank has failed, and worse, he’s disappeared along with his Jenny biplane.

When Birdie sees a leaflet for a barnstorming circus with a picture of Dad’s plane on it, she goes to Coney Island in search of answers.

The barnstorming circus has lady pilots, daredevil stuntmen, fire-spinners, and wing walkers, and Birdie is instantly enchanted—especially with a girl pilot named June. Birdie doesn’t find her father, but after stumbling across clues that suggest he’s gone to Chicago, she figures she’ll hitch a ride with the traveling circus doing what she does best: putting on a convincing act and insisting on being star of the show.

But the overconfidence that made her belle of the ball during her enchanted youth turns out to be far too reckless without the safety net of her charmed childhood, and a couple of impulsive missteps sends her and her newfound community spinning into freefall.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power (ISBN-13: 9780525645580 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 07/09/2019)

A feminist Lord of the Flies about three best friends living in quarantine at their island boarding school, and the lengths they go to uncover the truth of their confinement when one disappears. This fresh, new debut is a mind-bending novel unlike anything you’ve read before.

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed (ISBN-13: 9781481481762 Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication date: 07/09/2019)

The Astonishing Color of After meets Eleanor & Park in this breathtaking and beautifully surreal story about a friendship between two teens that just might shake the earth around them or at the very least make them face some painful truths about the nature of what drives us apart…and what brings us together.

Billy Sloat and Lydia Lemon don’t have much in common, unless you count growing up on the same (wrong) side of the tracks, the lack of a mother, and a persistent loneliness that has inspired creative coping mechanisms.

When the lives of these two loners are thrust together, Lydia’s cynicism is met with Billy’s sincere optimism, and both begin to question their own outlook on life. On top of that, weird happenings including an impossible tornado and an all-consuming fog are cropping up around them—maybe even because of them. And as the two grow closer and confront bigger truths about their pasts, they must also deal with such inconveniences as a narcissistic rock star, a war between unicorns and dragons, and eventually, of course, the apocalypse. 

With a unique mix of raw emotion, humor, and heart, the surreal plotline pulls readers through an epic exploration of how caring for others makes us vulnerable—and how utterly pointless life would be if we didn’t.

Me Myself & Him by Christopher Tebbetts (ISBN-13: 9781524715229 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 07/09/2019)

Perfect for fans of Becky Albertali’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and A. S. King’s Still Life with Tornado, this story of parallel time lines cleverly explores how our choices can change and shape us—as well as the ways in which choices don’t change the core of our being at all.

When Chris Schweitzer takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his nose isn’t the only thing that changes forever. Instead of staying home with his friends for the last summer after high school, he’s shipped off to live with his famous physicist but royal jerk of a father to prove he can “play by the rules” before Dad will pay for college. 

Or . . . not.

In an alternate time line, Chris’s parents remain blissfully ignorant about the accident, and life at home goes back to normal—until it doesn’t. A new spark between his two best (straight) friends quickly turns Chris into a (gay) third wheel, and even worse, the truth about the whippets incident starts to unravel. As his summer explodes into a million messy pieces, Chris wonders how else things might have gone. Is it possible to be jealous of another version of yourself in an alternate reality that doesn’t even exist? 

With musings on fate, religion, parallel universes, and the best way to eat a cinnamon roll, Me Myself & Him examines how what we consider to be true is really just one part of the much (much) bigger picture.

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells (ISBN-13: 9781534437906 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 07/30/2019)

A determined young woman sets out to rescue her kidnapped girlfriend by stealing a dragon from the corrupt emperor in this stunning fantasy debut that’s perfect for fans of Margaret Rogerson, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?


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