The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons
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 boy’s 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. So when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him after he discovers the “F” on Spencer’s birth certificate, 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.
Poison Ivy: Thorns by Kody Keplinger and Sara Kipin
There’s something unusual about Pamela Isley–the girl who hides behind her bright red hair. The girl who won’t let anyone inside to see what’s lurking behind the curtains. The girl who goes to extreme lengths to care for a few plants. Pamela Isley doesn’t trust other people, especially men. They always want something from her. Something she’s not willing to give.
When cute goth girl Alice Oh comes into Pamela’s life after an accident at the local park, she makes her feel like pulling back the curtains and letting the sunshine in. But there are dark secrets deep within the Isley house. Secrets Pamela’s father has warned must remain hidden. Secrets that could turn deadly and destroy the one person who ever cared about Pamela, or as her mom preferred to call her…Ivy.
Will Pamela open herself up to the possibilities of love, or will she forever be transformed by the thorny vines of revenge?
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.
Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.
As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?
The Girl From the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag
Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.
Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore.
But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface…whether Morgan is ready or not.
Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June
There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.
Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.
Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin
When Trixie picks up her best friend Lux for their weekend getaway, she’s looking to escape for a little while, to forget the despair of being trapped in their dead-end Rust Belt town and the daunting responsibility of caring for her ailing mother. The girls are packing light: a supply of Diet Coke for Lux and her ‘89 Canon to help her frame the world in a sunnier light; half a pack of cigarettes for Trixie that she doesn’t really smoke, and a knife—one she’s just hanging on to for a friend—that she’s never used before.
But a single night of violence derails their trip and will forever change the course of the girls’ lives, as they go from ordinary high schoolers to wanted fugitives. Trying to stay ahead of the cops and a hellscape of media attention, the girls grapple with an unforgiving landscape, rapidly diminishing supplies, and disastrous decisions at every turn. As they are transformed by the media into the face of a #MeToo movement they didn’t ask to lead and the road before them begins to run out, Trixie and Lux realize that they can only rely on each other, and that the love they find together is the one thing that truly makes them free.
The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver
When Liam Cooper’s older brother Ethan is killed in a hit-and-run, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationship with his two best friends.
Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam finds themself sharing time with Marcus, Ethan’s best friend, and through Marcus, Liam finds the one person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through, for the better, and the worse.
This book is about grief. But it’s also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.
The (Un)popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez
Vaseline on the teeth makes a smile shine. It’s a cheap stunt, but Mark Adams knows it’s optics that can win or ruin an election.
Everything Mark learned about politics, he learned from his father, the congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son. To protect his father’s image, Mark promises to keep his past hidden and pretend to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when he sees a manipulatively charming candidate for student body president inflame dangerous rhetoric, Mark decides to risk the low profile he assured his father and insert himself as a political challenger.
One big problem? No one really knows Mark. He didn’t grow up in this town, and he has few friends; plus, the ones he does have aren’t exactly with the in-crowd. Still, thanks to countless seasons of Scandal and The West Wing, these nerds know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover. Soon Mark feels emboldened to get in front of and engage with voters—and even start a new romance. But with an investigative journalist digging into his past, a father trying to silence him, and a bully front-runner who stands in his way, Mark will have to decide which matters most: perception or truth, when both are just as dangerous.
The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon
Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.
In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.
Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.
The Love Song of Ivy K. Harlowe by Hannah Moskowitz
Ivy K. Harlowe is a lot of things.
She’s my best friend.
She’s the center of attention.
She is, without fail, the hottest girl in the room. Anytime. Anyplace.
She has freckles and dimples and bright green eyes, and with someone else’s energy she’d be adorable. But there is nothing cute about Ivy. She is ice and hot metal and electricity.
She is the girl who every lesbian wants, but she has never been with the same person twice. She’s one-of-a-kind but also predictable, so I will always be Andie, her best friend, never Andie, her girlfriend.
Then she meets Dot, and Ivy does something even I would have never guessed—she sees Dot another day. And another. And another.
Now my world is slowly going up in smoke, and no matter what I do, the flames grow higher. She lit that match without knowing who or what it would burn.
Ivy K. Harlowe is a lot of things.
But falling in love wasn’t supposed to be one of them…unless it was with me.
Never Kiss Your Roommate by Philline Harms
Welcome to Seven Hills, the world’s most exclusive boarding school where only the best and brightest roam the hallowed halls. Being committed to your studies, service, and community doesn’t mean that you can’t break the rules now and again, right?
But watch your back because lurking on the anonymous Chitter Chatter Blog is The Watcher—who can’t wait to reveal all the latest hookups, hot lists, and secrets around campus. The latest objects of The Watcher’s affection? Straight-off-the-train (but not exactly straight) insta-besties Evelyn and Seth.
It doesn’t take long for Evelyn to realize she is inexplicably drawn to her gorgeous and standoffish roommate Noelle. Meanwhile Seth has eyes, and some serious heart palpitations, for budding thespian and school flirt Jasper. Just as things start to heat up, The Watcher strikes. Will the secrets revealed turn their happily ever afters into happily never afters?
Some rules are worth breaking
Evelyn’s new roommate doesn’t exactly project a warm, welcoming vibe. Noelle is intimidating—opposite to Evelyn’s shy and good-natured demeanor—but also impossible to resist. Everyone at Seven Hills, the most exclusive boarding school, knows Unwritten Rule No. 1: never kiss your roommate. But when Evelyn starts breaking more rules with Noelle, their recklessness starts to fuel an anonymous gossip blog on campus. As more secrets come to light, Evelyn and Noelle will have to come to terms with their dangerous pasts with the help of their friends before they lose each other.
Two boys, alone in space.
After the first settler on Titan trips her distress signal, neither remaining country on Earth can afford to scramble a rescue of its own, and so two sworn enemies are installed in the same spaceship.
Ambrose wakes up on the Coordinated Endeavor, with no memory of a launch. There’s more that doesn’t add up: Evidence indicates strangers have been on board, the ship’s operating system is voiced by his mother, and his handsome, brooding shipmate has barricaded himself away. But nothing will stop Ambrose from making his mission succeed—not when he’s rescuing his own sister.
In order to survive the ship’s secrets, Ambrose and Kodiak will need to work together and learn to trust one another… especially once they discover what they are truly up against. Love might be the only way to survive.
The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott
Emily and her mom were always lucky. Every month they’d take her lucky quarter, select lucky card 505, and dominate the heatedly competitive bingo night in their small, quirky town of Huckabee. But Emily’s mom’s luck ran out three years ago when she succumbed to cancer, and nothing has felt right for Emily since.
Now, the summer before her senior year, things are getting worse. Not only has Emily wrecked things with her boyfriend Matt, who her mom adored, but her dad is selling the house she grew up in and giving her mom’s belongings away. Soon, she’ll have no connections left to Mom but that lucky quarter. And with her best friend away for the summer and her other friends taking her ex’s side, the only person she has to talk to about it is her dad’s best friend’s daughter, Blake, a girl she barely knows.
But that’s when Emily finds the list—her mom’s senior year summer bucket list—buried in a box in the back of her closet. When Blake suggests that Emily take it on as a challenge, the two set off on a journey to tick each box and help Emily face her fears before everything changes As they go further down the list, Emily finally begins to feel closer to mom again, but her bond with Blake starts to deepen, too, into something she wasn’t expecting. Suddenly Emily must face another fear: accepting the secret part of herself she never got a chance to share with the person who knew her best.
Strange Creatures by Phoebe North
From the moment that Annie was born, she and her older brother, Jamie, were inseparable. Alike in almost every way, they promised to always take care of each other while facing the challenges of growing up different in suburban America. And when life became too much for them, they created their own space in the woods behind their house: a fantasy world of their own making, where no one else could find them. And it was enough, for a while. But then came middle school when Jamie grew dark and distant. He found new friends, a girlfriend, and a life away from Annie and their shared world. By the time Annie was in eighth grade, it was as if she hardly knew the brother who was her other half.
And then, one day, he disappears.
Annie, her family, and the entire community are devastated. And as the days turn into months turn into years, everyone begins to accept that Jamie is gone for good. Everyone, that is, except Annie, who believes that Jamie, somehow, has entered the world they created, and who believes that she’s the only one who can bring him back. But as Annie searches for answers and finds a new relationship with a girl she did not expect, she makes startling discoveries about her brother’s disappearance—and has to decide how much of herself she’s willing to give up in order to keep hope alive.
Speak For Yourself by Lana Wood Johnson
Girl meets boy. Girl likes boy.Girl gets friend to help win boy. Friend ends up with crush on boy…
Skylar’s got ambitious #goals. And if she wants them to come true, she has to get to work now. (At least she thinks so…) Step one in her epic plan is showing everyone that her latest app is brilliant. To do that, she’s going to use it to win State at the Scholastic Exposition, the nerdiest academic competition around.First, she’ll need a team, and Skylar’s not always so good with people. But she’ll do whatever it takes to put one together … even if it means playing Cupid for her teammates Joey and Zane, at Joey’s request. When things get off to an awkward start for them, Skylar finds herself stepping in to help Joey. Anything to keep her on the team. Only, Skylar seems to be making everything more complicated. Especially when she realizes she might be falling for Zane, which was not a #goal. Can Skylar figure out her feelings, prove her app’s potential to the world, and win State without losing her friends–or is her path to greatness over before it begins?
You’re the One that I Want by Simon James Green (3rd)
Freddie has a reputation as a ‘nice guy’ – inoffensive, sweet, kind – and therefore completely un-dateable.
As he starts sixth form, Freddie decides that this nice guy isn’t going to finish last any more. No more missing out on parties because he’s got to do his homework. No more saying no when he really wants to say yes. And most of all no more lusting after unobtainable straight boys who enjoy the attention but ultimately break his heart.
Freddie embarks on a series of changes designed to transform his social and romantic life, and suddenly he’s a drama darling, getting invited to all the popular kids’ parties, and hot new boy Zach is showing an interest. Life couldn’t be better!
But the path to love is never smooth – and Freddie’s about to learn that changing everything about yourself isn’t necessarily a foolproof way of finding the right person…
Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters
When it comes to her career, Cade Elgin has it all figured out. Only “professional talk” has become her default mode, relationships are nonexistent, and don’t even mention the word “orgasm.” All work and no play makes Cade a dull human. But when she inherits a sex toy store, Cade is caught between business and a store filled with every imaginable kind of pleasure—including her infuriatingly irresponsible and deliciously sexy new co-owner.
Selena Mathis learned the hard way that she can have too much of a good thing. Which is precisely why she’s taken an oath of celibacy and is focusing on how to make Satisfaction Guaranteed a success. She won’t mess this up. Not this time. But once again, Selena’s emotions are getting in the way and tempting her with a serious attraction to buttoned-up Cade.
But the shop isn’t exactly vibe-ing, and Cade and Selena are on the verge of losing both their income and the possibility of love. Can they find a way to work together . . . before Satisfaction Guaranteed runs out of batteries?
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Cynical twenty-three-year old August doesn’t believe in much. She doesn’t believe in psychics, or easily forged friendships, or finding the kind of love they make movies about. And she certainly doesn’t believe her ragtag band of new roommates, her night shifts at a 24-hour pancake diner, or her daily subway commute full of electrical outages are going to change that.
But then, there’s Jane. Beautiful, impossible Jane.
All hard edges with a soft smile and swoopy hair and saving August’s day when she needed it most. The person August looks forward to seeing on the train every day. The one who makes her forget about the cities she lived in that never seemed to fit, and her fear of what happens when she finally graduates, and even her cold-case obsessed mother who won’t quite let her go. And when August realizes her subway crush is impossible in more ways than one―namely, displaced in time from the 1970s―she thinks maybe it’s time to start believing.
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
Harlem, 1926. Young black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.
Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She”s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie”s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan”s hottest speakeasy. Louise”s friends might say she”s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don”t tell her that.
When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she”s been trying to ignore–several local black girls have been murdered over the past few weeks. After an altercation with a local police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or let a judge make an example of her.
Louise has no choice but to take the case and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind. She’ll have to tackle her own fears and the prejudices of New York City society if she wants to catch a killer and save her own life in the process.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.
But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.
Future Feeling by Joss Lake
The year is 20__, and Penfield R. Henderson is in a rut. When he’s not walking dogs for cash or responding to booty calls from his B-list celebrity hookup, he’s holed up in his dingy Bushwick apartment obsessing over holograms of Aiden Chase, a fellow trans man and influencer documenting his much smoother transition into picture-perfect masculinity on the Gram. After an IRL encounter with Aiden leaves Pen feeling especially resentful, Pen enlists his roommates, the Witch and the Stoner-Hacker, to put their respective talents to use in hexing Aiden. Together, they gain access to Aiden’s social media account and post a picture of Pen’s aloe plant, Alice, tied to a curse:
Whosoever beholds the aloe will be pushed into the Shadowlands.
When the hex accidentally bypasses Aiden, sending another young trans man named Blithe to the Shadowlands (the dreaded emotional landscape through which every trans person must journey to achieve true self-actualization), the Rhiz (the quasi-benevolent big brother agency overseeing all trans matters) orders Pen and Aiden to team up and retrieve him. The two trace Blithe to a dilapidated motel in California and bring him back to New York, where they try to coax Blithe to stop speaking only in code and awkwardly try to pass on what little trans wisdom they possess. As the trio makes its way in a world that includes pitless avocados and subway cars that change color based on occupants’ collective moods but still casts judgment on anyone not perfectly straight, Pen starts to learn that sometimes a family isn’t just the people who birthed you.
With Teeth by Kristen Arnett
If she’s being honest, Sammie Lucas is scared of her son. Working from home in the close quarters of their Florida house, she lives with one wary eye peeled on Samson, a sullen, unknowable boy who resists her every attempt to bond with him. Uncertain in her own feelings about motherhood, she tries her best—driving, cleaning, cooking, prodding him to finish projects for school—while growing increasingly resentful of Monika, her confident but absent wife. As Samson grows from feral toddler to surly teenager, Sammie’s life begins to deteriorate into a mess of unruly behavior, and her struggle to create a picture-perfect queer family unravels. When her son’s hostility finally spills over into physical aggression, Sammie must confront her role in the mess—and the possibility that it will never be clean again.
Sing Anyway by Anita Kelly
After a lifetime of failed relationships, non-binary history professor Sam Bell is committed to a new (non)romantic strategy: Thirst Only. It’s the actual drinking where things get too complicated, where Sam inevitably gets hurt.
Sam is good at being thirsty, though, especially when it’s karaoke night at The Moonlight Café, otherwise known as Moonie’s to its largely queer regulars. Moonie’s is fun. Comfortable. Safe. Except for tonight, when one by one, all of Sam’s friends abandon them. Disappointed, they prepare to leave—until their #1 karaoke crush catches their eye…
For Lily Fischer, karaoke at Moonie’s is the only time she can step outside of her quiet shell. When there’s a mic in her hand, she’s no longer merely a receptionist harboring big dreams. At Moonie’s, Lily can pretend to be someone else: someone bold, who takes what she wants. And tonight, what Lily wants is the way Sam looks at her across the room as she sings her signature opening song, like they see her exactly as she wants to be seen. Like Moonie’s Lily is real.
As the night progresses, both Sam’s and Lily’s personal fears are tested, and the real world outside of Moonie’s looms. But maybe sometimes, the real world should be a little more like karaoke. It’s not always about knowing all the right words or having the perfect voice. Maybe all Sam and Lily need is a little courage to pick up the mic, and sing anyway.
Buy it: Amazon
Dare to Live, Dare to Love by Nicole C. Moon
Elle Jones is constantly immersed in her job and doesn’t have time for much else. Her work life is on point, but the rest? Not so much. She never takes time to take care of herself, and she’s terrified of not being good enough to be loved.
Dylan Andrews recently moved in with his brother after leaving London. He doesn’t have a job, but he’s determined to figure out what he wants to do with his life.
When the two of them run into each other, they’re overwhelmed by old feelings that never really went away. After a long talk on a quiet beach under a glimmering night sky, Dylan comes up with an idea that could change everything. He writes a list of things to show Elle that love is real, it can be true, it can last, and it can find her when the time is right. As they move through all the items written on a crumpled piece of paper, Elle slowly starts learning that there is more to life than she thought, and Dylan realizes that he would do anything to fight for love. Can the two of them face the feelings they keep trying to avoid before the list ends? Can they take a leap towards a future that could be filled with unconditional love, both for each other and themselves, or will it be too late?
Buy it: Amazon
Sunset Springs by Kacen Callender (3rd)
No job, no money, no love – and to make things worse, 27-year-old Charlie has no choice but to leave New York City and move in with his mom in his isolated and conservative hometown of Sunset Springs.
Home isn’t a comfortable place for Charlie. One of very few Black residents and the only trans person around town that he knows of, this will be Charlie’s first time back in Sunset Springs since he transitioned. He expects confusion and maybe even hostility. He definitely does not expect Jackson Ford.
Jack was the brooding yet beloved football star at their high school, but now, he’s an outsider after coming out as gay. When Charlie and Jackson fall for each other in a swift and surprising romance, Charlie has to decide if he’s willing to exchange his old dreams for a new one.
Sunset Springs is an audio novella about finding courage to allow unexpected change, even at the risk of a broken heart.
Buy it: Audible
The 2000s Made Me Gay: Essays on Pop Culture by Grace Perry
Today’s gay youth have dozens of queer peer heroes, both fictional and real, but former gay teenager Grace Perry did not have that luxury. Instead, she had to search for queerness in the (largely straight) teen cultural phenomena the aughts had to offer: in Lindsay Lohan’s fall from grace, Gossip Girl, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” country-era Taylor Swift, and Seth Cohen jumping on a coffee cart. And, for better or worse, these touch points shaped her adult identity. She came out on the other side like many millennials did: in her words, gay as hell.
Throw on your Von Dutch hats and join Grace on a journey back through the pop culture moments of the aughts, before the cataclysmic shift in LGBTQ representation and acceptance—a time not so long ago, which many seem to forget.