10 YA Books to Add to Your Pride Month Reading List
by Mishma Nixon
Happy Pride Month! It is the month to pay special attention to our reading choices, and here’s ten recent YA books that belong in everyone’s reading list, all year long. With a diverse array of queer representation that spans across the spectrum, written mostly by own-voices authors, these ten books celebrate LGBTQIA+ characters and relationships in different genres and fictional universes, and deserve a special nod this pride month.
Young adult books have always been the flagship age group of literature when it comes to diverse representation and inclusive content. There have been so many great stories with LGBTQIA+ representation, ranging from realistic coming out narratives to lush fantasies that normalize queer relationships. These ten books follow in the tradition with emotional, optimistic and inspirational stories guaranteed to make an impact in their audience. Be sure to check them out and happy pride!
Running With Lions by Julian Winters
Running With Lions is inclusive, soft, heartwarming and extremely Hufflepuff. Revolved around a diverse and endearing team of soccer players, this book explores what it means to be a minority in sports, and just how much of a difference a supporting coach and accepting team can make. Also, the romances in this book are the cutest.
2. The Fever King by Victoria Lee
Set in a post nuclear fallout America where magic is virus, The Fever King is a clever blend of fantasy and science fiction that follows the story of a brave and kind protagonist called Noam. He is bisexual and has an explosive hate to love story with the complex and intriguing Dara. The book infuses politics into fantasy seamlessly and will make you genuinely root for the characters that Lee creates.
3. You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
You Asked For Perfect is an ode to every overachieving and ambitious student ever. If you have ever been that student a little bit too obsessed with your grades, you will relate to Ariel’s story. The book is so casually diverse, and Ariel’s newfound feelings for his family friend Amir are explored in such a gentle and cute way. Also, props to all the Harry Potter references.
4. Birthday by Meredith Russo
This emotional tale is told in yearly snapshots, tracking the main characters through six birthdays. Morgan and Eric’s friendship and love are tested throughout the years as Morgan’s transition into a girl does not sit right with their rural Tennessee town. Birthday is a poignant story of self acceptance and grief, and it is absolutely heartbreaking and powerful.
5. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
A fantasy influenced by Chinese and Malaysian mythology, Girls of Paper and Fire explores the lives of women being trained to be a demon king’s courtesans, and how two of those women end of falling in love with each other instead. The lush writing and descriptions transport you to a oriental landscape, yet I would warn about some heavy content warnings for sexual abuse and violence.
6. Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie
Emily Skrutskie calls this, “my little standalone sci-fi Battlestar/Pacific Rim/Sense8/Snowpiercer frolic, affectionately known as Cyborg Space Jam.” Hullmetal Girls is a story driven by sibling relationships and strong friendships between women of color. It also comes with spaceships, angry badass girls, gray morals, an aro-ace MC, space adventures and machines with sass. This book is the feminist sci-fi YA I have been wanting for a while.
7. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
I Wish You All the Best is one of the first YA books that feature a nonbinary main character. Written by a nonbinary author, this book is Ben’s coming out story, and it is as optimistic as it is heartbreaking. This important narrative portrays a gentle love story amidst the main character’s struggles with their anxiety and the prejudice they face, and celebrates love, friendship, family and acceptance.
8. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, Rosemary Valero - O’Connell (Illustrator)
First of all, the art in the book is absolutely gorgeous. Pink is my new favourite colour after I read this graphic novel. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking with Me finds the essence of toxic teen relationships, and it is painfully real yet cute. Freddy and Laura’s relationship is a reminder that loving someone can sometimes mean seeing right through their faults, even when those faults should turn you away.
9. Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
Like a Love Story takes you to a 1989 New York, through the lives of three teens. Abdi Nazemian’s incredibly moving story is an exploration of what it was like to come to terms with your sexuality during the early days of the AIDS crisis. It is a story about finding the courage to be yourself even in a world full of fear, and finding your people who will love you and accept you no matter what.
10. Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Darius the Great is Not Okay is what I would call a pre-coming out story. It is a honest and authentic self discovery of Darius, as he navigates through his complex relationship with his father, his unfamiliarity with his Iranian family and identity, and his vulnerable, beautiful friendship with a boy named Sohrab. It is an important story that challenges and shatters toxic masculinity and mental health stigma so perfectly.