11 New YA Novels That Make The Perfect Pride Month Reads

by Kerri Jarema

When it comes to Pride Month there are so many ways to celebrate, raise awareness, and be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. One of my favorite ways to celebrate Pride is by uplifting queer voices any way I can — through sharing articles by queer writers, donating to LGBTQIA+ organizations, and, of course reading and sharing books about queer characters, books by queer writers, and books for queer readers. Because while it's true that there is a lot of progress still to be made when it comes to rep for all in books, it is also gratifying to see that there are more stories with queer main characters on bookshelves than ever before.

If you want to make June a month of Pride reading, this list of 11 YA books, all released in 2018, is a great place to start. While this list is by no means a comprehensive representation of the many different sexualities and gender identities that exist in the world, the books below will open you up to new and diverse experiences within the queer community — while helping to support both queer writers being published and helping to make sure that more books about queer people keep making their way to bookstores and libraries everywhere.

'Dear Rachel Maddow' by Adrienne Kisner (June 5)

Brynn Haper's life has one steadying force — Rachel Maddow. After writing to Rachel for a school project, Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to help select a new school superintendent. Brynn's archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students should be considered. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. What Would Rachel Maddow Do?

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'Sometime After Midnight' by L. Philips (June 12)

In a dingy Los Angeles club, Cameron and Nate meet. But when Nate learns that Cameron is the heir to the record label that destroyed his father's life, he runs away as fast as he can. The only evidence of their meeting is a blurry photo Cameron snaps of Nate's Sharpie-decorated Chuck Taylors as he flees. Cameron sets out to find the owner of the Sharpie'd shoes, breaking the internet with the news of a modern fairy tale as the two become entwined in each other's lives.

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'Leah On The Offbeat' by Becky Albertalli

Leah Burke still hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends that she's bisexual — not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

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'Anger Is A Gift' by Mark Oshiro

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by a police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks. Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates are increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. The students decide to organize and push back against the administration. But when tragedy strikes, Moss must either give in to fear or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

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'The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)' by Amy Spalding

Seventeen years old, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people's lives. When she lands an internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn't expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. Suddenly, she doesn't feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby's finally in her own story?

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'The Brightsiders' by Jen Wilde

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But when a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital and her girlfriend in jail, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck. Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. When she and Alfie hook up, will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

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'Let's Talk About Love' by Claire Kann

Alice had her whole summer planned. The only thing missing? Her girlfriend, who ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual. Alice is done with dating, until she meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for. When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated — or understood.

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'The Last to Let Go' by Amber Smith

Brooke Winters is transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her past behind. But her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own. Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.

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'Fire Song' by Adam Garnet Jones

Shane is still reeling from the death by suicide of his kid sister, Destiny. What he really wants is to be able to turn to the one person on the rez whom he loves — his friend, David. But they have to hide their relationship from everyone. Shane feels that his only chance of a better life is moving to Toronto, but David refuses to join him. When more tragedy strikes, the two boys have to make difficult choices about their future together.

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'Nothing Happened' by Molly Booth

This modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing takes place at the idyllic Camp Dogberry, where sisters Bee and Hana Leonato have grown up. This year, the camp drama isn’t just on the improv stage. Bee and longtime counselor Ben have a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that’s complicated by events that happened — or didn’t happen — last summer. Meanwhile, Hana is falling hard for Claudia, putting them both in the crosshairs of resident troublemaker John, who spreads a vicious rumor that could tear them apart.

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'All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages' by Various Authors

From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten. This collection features stories by Anna-Marie McLemore, Mackenzi Lee, Malindo Lo, Dahlia Adler, and more.

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