YA Friday: Sunshine On The Street At The Parade

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month

And not just any Pride Month -- this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which occurred at the end of June 1969 in Manhattan. It's a moment for remembering the past, as well as advocating for the future.

When it comes to Pride Month there are so many ways to celebrate, raise awareness, and be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. One of my favorite ways to celebrate Pride is by uplifting queer voices through reading and sharing books about queer characters, books by queer writers, and books for queer readers.

Queer representation in the young adult book world has improved in recent years as authors and stories have focused on more than just the coming out process, which while an important milestone, isn’t a defining one. Today’s young readers have options when it comes to reading books by and about LGBTQIA people. Finally queer young people of color can see themselves not only reflected in the pages, but finally on the covers! And can read about people like them having space adventures, solving mysteries, and winding up at the center of a romantic comedy.

If you want to make June a month of DIVERSE Pride reading, this list of #OwnVoices YA books 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. So check out the suggestions of inclusive reads you can pick up at your local library branch to keep celebrating the spirit of Pride for the rest of the year.

Fantasy Fiction

The Lost Coast book cover

The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

Danny has trouble staying where she's supposed to be. She sleepwalks, cuts class, wanders away from home, and kisses lots of people but never feels connected to them. Finally, with Danny's grades plummeting, her mother decides they need a new start. They spread out a map and pick the town of Tempest, on the northern coast of California, as their new home. Danny's mother hopes that her daughter will turn over a new leaf, and Danny longs for a place with other queer kids where she won't feel so alone. She gets more than she bargained for when it turns out that her arrival in Tempest isn't happenstance. A group of queer teenage witches who call themselves the Grays have been waiting for Danny, and they believe she is the only one who can find their missing friend, Imogen. Danny must simultaneously learn to use her new powers, meet the expectations of her mother and her new friends, and unravel the mystery of Imogen's disappearance. She also needs to determine whether the Grays actually want her or if they're just using her to find Imogen.

We Set the Dark on Fire book cover

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

As the top Primera of the Medio School for Girls, Dani has spent the last five years trying to forget the world her parents fought hard to leave behind—the world beyond the border wall, where people are dying of hunger and illness. Dani has learned to check her emotions and prepare to be her husband's equal, a partner who will help him in all things political. Then she is paired with longtime enemy Carmen Santos, a Segunda who, with her beauty and grace, completes the third side of the marriage triangle to Mateo. When Sota, a member of La Voz—a group seeking to bring down the government that keeps people like Dani's family in the margins—saves Dani by providing her with legitimate documents to keep the government from discovering her true origins, Dani becomes entwined in the group's goals, using her role as Mateo's wife to pass on his plans to the rebellion. As Dani becomes more involved with La Voz, she struggles to keep her feelings for Carmen at bay—emotions that, in Medio, are forbidden.

Historical Fiction

Like A Love Story book cover

Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemain

When Reza, a closeted teen, moves from Toronto to New York City (“by way of Tehran”) in 1989, the city feels like the epicenter of the AIDS crisis. In a heart-wrenching and bittersweet unfolding of events, he gravitates toward Art, the only openly gay student at his school, and to Art’s best friend, Judy, who represents everything he feels that he should desire. Though Reza tries his hardest to keep his attractions secret, dating Judy despite his chemistry with Art, he finds that he can’t live a lie, whatever that might cost him.

Pulp book cover

Pulp by Robin Talley

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It's not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself--and Marie--to a danger all too real.

Mystery and Thriller

Keep This To Yourself book cover

Keep This To Yourself by Tom Ryan

A year after his friend's murder, a boy finds a clue that propels him to start his own investigation. Mac lives in Camera Cove, once famous only for its picturesque scenery. That was before the serial killer who murdered four people struck, leaving a clipping from an old catalog on each victim. The police found evidence of a drifter's involvement, but the culprit was never identified. One victim was Connor, Mac's close friend, for whom he harbored secret feelings. Now, the summer after graduation, Mac and his friend group have scattered, most hoping to move on. But without closure, Mac feels stuck until he discovers a note Connor left him the night of his murder. Riddled with guilt, Mac makes it his mission to find out what happened. Under the guise of collecting donations for a rummage sale, he visits the families of each victim, seeking clues. Quill, one victim's cousin, becomes a partner in his investigation—and maybe something more. As Mac works out theories, he uncovers far more than he ever could have imagined, and he's forced to rewrite everything he thought he knew.

White Rabbit book cover

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian-the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to "talk." Things couldn't get worse, right? Then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. He and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney. April swears she didn't kill Fox. Rufus knows her too well to believe she's telling him the whole truth, but April has something he needs. Her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can't stop loving, Rufus has one night to clear his sister's name...or die trying.

Realistic Fiction

If It Makes You Happy book cover

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann

Winnie is a big, fiery Black girl who loves herself, her family, and her granny’s diner in the little town of Misty Haven. For her last summer before college, Winnie goes to work at the diner, and everything in her life seems perfect—until she unexpectedly becomes Misty Haven’s Summer Queen. Then, her secret crush, Dallas, nominates himself to be Summer King, much to the dismay of Winnie’s queerplatonic “ungirlfriend,” Kara. As Winnie wrestles with what she wants out of love—and life—she must overcome her fears and challenge others to view her with the same body positivity with which she views herself.

I Wish You All The Best book cover

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

When 18-year-old Ben comes out as nonbinary, his parents heartlessly throw him out of the house. With nowhere else to go, Ben calls their older sister, Hannah, whom they haven’t seen in 10 years, and she mercifully agrees to give them a new home. Hannah’s husband, Thomas, is a teacher and arranges for Ben to enroll at his school, where Ben quickly meets Nathan, who has been assigned to help orient them. Extroverted, ebullient, and always smiling, Nathan is a bit overwhelming at first, but gradually Ben accepts Nathan’s overtures of friendship—and is it possible that their friendship might blossom into something more deeply felt? First, however, Ben must find the courage to come out to Nathan. The question is, can they?

Science Fiction

On A Sunbeam book cover

On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As Mia, the newest member, gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. When Mia grows close to her new friends, she reveals her true purpose for joining their ship - to track down her long-lost love.

The Weight of the Stars book cover

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the “wrong” side of town. One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the girls are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.


Tell Me How You Really Feel book cover

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

Rachel Recht and Sana Khan are either mortal enemies or star-crossed lovers.Jewish-Mexican Rachel has hated South Asian-Persian Muslim Sana ever since Sana asked her out during their freshman year at their exclusive private school as a prank. At least, Rachel assumed it was a prank—why else would a perfect cheerleader like Sana want to date a scholarship student like her, even if Rachel is a brilliant filmmaker? So when Rachel's film teacher forces her to cast Sana in her final film class project—a project that will determine whether she gets a scholarship to her dream college, NYU—Rachel is sure that the whole thing will be a disaster. Until she realizes that seemingly perfect Sana is wrestling with her own demons—including her family's unreasonable expectations and her own doubts about her future. Before long, sparks start to fly, and Rachel and Sana discover parts of each other that they cannot help but love.

How Not to Ask a Boy to Prom book cover

How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom by S. J. Goslee

Unlike other juniors fretting about college, Nolan Grant Sheffield is content to work at the plant nursery forever if he doesn't get into his top school. But among a long list of college prep plans, his older sister Daphne's making her never-been-kissed brother ask a boy to prom—or she'll ask someone for him. Nolan chooses his longtime crush Si O'Mara, out school football star and GSA president. But before Nolan gets Si's answer, classmate Bern intercepts the promposal to save Nolan from potential embarrassment. Suddenly, Nolan finds himself not only going to the dance with Bern, a guy who used to bully him, but also fake dating him. As the relationship starts to tiptoe the line between real and pretend, will the odd couple make it to prom night?