Sixteen-year-old Maya Krishnan is fiercely protective of her friends, immigrant community, and single mother, but she knows better than to rock the boat in her conservative Florida suburb. Her classmate Juneau Zale is the polar opposite: she’s a wealthy white heartbreaker who won’t think twice before capsizing that boat.
When Juneau invites Maya to join the Pugilists—a secret society of artists, vandals, and mischief-makers who fight for justice at their school—Maya descends into the world of change-making and resistance. Soon, she and Juneau forge a friendship that inspires Maya to confront the challenges in her own life.
But as their relationship grows romantic, painful, and twisted, Maya begins to suspect that there’s a whole different person beneath Juneau’s painted-on facade. Now Maya must learn to speak her truth in this mysterious, mixed-up world—even if it results in heartbreak.
The little beachside town of San Pancras is not known for anything exciting, but when Zach Darlington buys a mysterious ring at the local flea market, his quiet little hometown is turned topsy-turvy by monsters straight from Jewish folklore and a nefarious secret society focused on upholding an apocalyptic prophecy.
Zach discovers that the ring grants him strange powers, and he’s intrigued; maybe he can use the ring’s strengths to halt the slew of anti-Semitic and homophobic bullying he’s experiencing at school. But soon the ring brings unexpected visitors—Ashmedai, King of Demons, in the guise of a preteen boy named Ash, and the local chapter of the Knights of the Apocalypse, a secret society intent on completing a creepy prophecy that will bring three monsters to Earth to start the events of the end of times.
Now responsible for the ring and its consequences, will Zach and his friends, with the help of Ash, be able to stop the Apocalypse and save the world?
Whether you know him as Lev A.C. Rosen (Lavender House!) or L.C. Rosen (Camp!), if you’ve been reading the site a while you know he writes some of my all-time favorite queer lit, so I’m thrilled to have him on the site today to reveal the cover of his upcoming gay YA Indiana Jones-esque adventure, Lion’s Legacy, releasing May 2, 2023 from Union Square Books! Here’s the story:
Seventeen-year-old Tennessee Russo’s life is imploding. His boyfriend has been cheating on him, and all his friends know about it. Worse, they expect him to just accept his ex’s new relationship and make nice. So when his father, a famous archeologist and reality show celebrity whom he hasn’t seen in two years, shows up unexpectedly and offers to take him on an adventure, Tennessee only has a few choices:
1. Stay, mope, regret it forever.
2. Go, try to reconcile with Dad, become his sidekick again.
3. Go, but make it his adventure, and Dad will be the sidekick.
The object of his father’s latest quest, the Rings of the Sacred Band of Thebes, is too enticing to say no to, so he heads to Greece. Finding artifacts related to the troop of ancient Greek soldiers, composed of 150 gay couples, means navigating ruins, deciphering ancient mysteries, and maybe meeting a cute boy while doing it.
But will his dad let Tennessee do the right thing with the rings if they find them? And what is the right thing? Who does queer history belong to? Against the backdrop of a sunlit Greek summer, author L.C. Rosen masterfully weaves together adventure, romance, and magic in a celebration of the power of claiming your queer legacy.
And here’s the magical cover, designed by Marcie Lawrence with art by Colin Verdi!
Behold, a note from the author!
I’m so proud to present the cover of Lion’s Legacy, my upcoming queer archeological adventure YA! The art is by Colin Verdi, who also did the art for my historical noir, Lavender House. He’s so incredibly talented and I was honored to have him do another cover. I love the rainbow sheen on the metal of the shield especially – though I feel I should mention that there is no shield in the book! That was a choice by cover designer Marcie Lawrence, who felt that the hero, Tennessee, holding an ancient shield would be the best image to convey the idea of antiquity and adventure, even if the book itself is about searching for ancient rings, which are prominently displayed on the shield. But accuracy aside, I think it’s such a striking image, and I love how Colin made Tennessee look so active and powerful. I’m so proud of this book, and excited for everyone to get to read it!
But wait, there’s more! Below is an excerpt from Lion’s Legacy, giving you your very first glimpse into the life of Tennessee Russo…
The skeletons stare at me from across the moat, waiting. If you’d asked me, even two days ago, if I believed that reanimated skeletons, their joints tied together with ribbon, were possible, I would have said no. Even with everything I’ve seen—the pit traps and rolling boulders, the ancient mechanisms that somehow still functioned, the scepter that controlled fire—I would have drawn the line there. But now I have to say, I’m a believer. You sort of have to believe in a thing after it
spends hours trying to kill you.
“Dad . . . the bridge is getting lower,” I say, trying not to sound too panicked, and failing. We’re currently on a man-made square of an island. On one side, across the water, is the rest of the lost temple we’ve come through to get there—and the skeletons. They make strange hollow clanking noises as they bang together, teeth chattering, their hands reaching out for me. I have a gash on my shoulder where one got too close. They can tear us apart. The ribbons waver along with their movements, making them blurry, as if they’re covered in rags. They don’t go in the water, though. The water dissolves their ribbons, and the skeletons fall apart.
We came out here via a big wooden bridge that drops down from a device in the ceiling. It lowers for a few minutes, then rises for a few minutes, back and forth, like a pendulum. And right now, it’s not swinging in our direction: it’s lowering. We just made it across last time it came down, but the skeletons were far enough behind they didn’t make it. But this time there’s nothing stopping them.
“Dad . . . ,” I say again. I turn around, focusing the camera I’m holding to film him instead of the skeletons. He’s kneeling in front of an altar, a brightly colored lacquer box on top of it.
The box has a puzzle wheel for a lock—a complex image broken into different rings he needs to rotate into place to make the image line up and open the box. But he doesn’t know what the picture is supposed to be.
“Almost, Tenny . . .,” Dad says, carefully turning one of the rings into place. “Almost . . .”
There’s a small click, and he pulls the top of the box open. Inside, laid in an indentation, is a katana. It gleams in the dim light of the torches. It has a white enamel sheath and an intricate hilt, but we don’t have time to admire it as the bridge has now reached arm height and the skeletons are clamoring onto it and toward us.
“We have to go,” I say to Dad.
Dad looks behind us and sees the skeletons and nods. He grabs the katana and unsheathes it, tossing me the scabbard. “Let’s hope the legends are true,” he says. On the side of the small island opposite the bridge are stairs that lead down into the water. We don’t know how deep the water is, but it’s nearly black, and if there’s a shore on the other side, we can’t see it.
Dad runs down the stairs and holds the katana in front of him, then cuts into the water with a few quick strokes. There’s no splashing, though. Instead, the blade carves, like a knife into soft wood. The water freezes like cut glass where the katana has sliced it. Pieces of it go flying and hover in the air, crystals rotating. And in front of us, a small valley through the water. It’s clear, but too dark to see to the bottom. It must go very far down. Dad has made a path in the water.
Carefully, he puts a foot on it.
Behind us, the bridge falls into place. I hear the hollow beats of
the skeletons’ footsteps charging us.
“Come on,” Dad says, now stepping fully onto the path he’s carved through the water. It holds him. It shouldn’t be possible, but then, neither should the skeletons. I run forward and step onto the water with him. It feels like walking on Jell-O that bounces under my boots. Dad
slices through the water again, carving us a path farther and farther forward, away from the skeletons. I film it all, then turn around to film our pursuers. They’ve stopped at the water’s edge. They don’t know if they can use the path. Neither do I. But I don’t want to find out.
“Faster,” I hiss.
We keep walking forward as Dad carves the water. Around us, the room is made of old brick, covered in moss, low enough to see the ceiling but with the walls far enough out they’re hidden in darkness. Carefully, I reach into the water on either side of us, the parts Dad hasn’t carved. Still liquid. Still deep. And freezing cold.
I look behind us. A skeleton is mimicking me, carefully placing its hand on the carved water. It doesn’t go through. It doesn’t dissolve the little ribbons holding its bones together. “Dad,” I say.
The skeleton steps onto the path. It holds him.
“Dad, they can walk on it, too. Faster!”
Dad glances back and sees the skeletons on the water. He starts carving faster. The strange, crystalized bits of water fly out as he keeps running forward. We don’t know where we’re going, but we know what we have to get away from.
Dad keeps slicing and I stay close, sometimes turning back to check how near to us the skeletons are. Closer every time. This could be it. Our last adventure.
“Dad!” I scream.
“I see land,” Dad says, and points. In the distance is another stone shore, stairs leading out of the water onto an island like the one we were on. He starts carving faster, heading toward it. Behind us, the hollow clanking of bones is closer.
“We need to jump,” I say.
“What?” Dad says.
“We’ll swim. They can’t follow.”
“Tenny, how can I swim with this katana? It’ll cut the water up. You know physics well enough to tell me what’ll happen?”
He knows I don’t. I’m a high school freshman. I haven’t even had physics yet. “Then carve faster!”
The skeletons are quicker, though. I look behind us. They’re a swarm of bone and ribbon nearly on us. But then I hear something. The sound is growing quiet. I tilt, looking behind the pursuing skeletons. There should be dozens of them, but there are only ten now. Enough to tear us apart, but where did the others . . . behind them, the path is gone. Water again. Okay, that’s something. We have options now:
Hope Dad carves fast enough that we reach the end and can climb up those stairs, then push the skeletons back into the water. Hope they don’t kill us before or during that particular battle.
Swim to shore. Sword might cut the water, Dad might sink lower on one side, lower and lower as he keeps swimming, cutting, until he’s at the bottom and the water above him turns liquid again.
Turn and fight the skeletons now. Not my favorite.
Something that uses the best of everything.
I shrug my backpack off, put the camera around my neck, and dive into the water.
“Tenny!” Dad shouts. “What are you doing?”
Dad keeps slicing into the water as I swim. I can hear the skeletons rushing closer and closer to him. Shore isn’t far now, though. I’m a good swimmer, I made sure of that after that water trap in the Mayan temple. I reach the stairs and turn around. The skeletons are practically on top of Dad.
“Throw the katana!” I shout.
“What? We’ll lose it!”
“Throw it! At the water! Then dive in!”
Dad looks behind him as a skeleton grabs at him and pulls his backpack off. He shrugs out of it before it can pull him back. Then, his face grim, he throws the katana at me and dives into the water in one motion. The katana spirals through the air like a comet, coming closer, closer . . . Finally, it lands in the water near me, the blade hardening the water as it hits, the hilt clinking as it reaches the surface. It stays. I reach forward and pull it out, like King Arthur.
Dad is swimming for me, and the skeletons are standing confused on their little crystal island. I film it as the carved water gradually turns back to liquid, and the skeletons silently fall into it.
Dad walks up the stairs, sighing, drenched. He cocks an eyebrow at me.
“If you knew the katana would hold in the water like that and not sink, why’d you dive in first?” he asks. “I could have thrown it and we could have dived in together.”
“So I could film it,” I say.
Dad grins, then starts laughing. He puts his arm around me and hugs me close. “I love you, Tenny,” he says. “You’re a genius.”
I laugh. “I love you too, Dad.”
Relief floods over me. We have the katana. We are out of immediate danger. We did it! We found the legendary Misumune katana, the water-carver. We navigated a lost temple filled with traps, riddles, and supernatural monsters. And we had a damn good time doing it. I keep laughing, and so does Dad. I know it’s a release for both of us, all the anxiety flying out of us in the sound of joy. He keeps hugging me. I keep hugging him.
“We gotta find a way out of here, though,” Dad says.
“I just hope there are no more skeletons,” I say. “That’s all I want.”
“Same here, Tenny.” He takes the flashlight that hangs from his belt and shines it forward. “Hopefully this isn’t long. Our rations were in my bag.”
“And the extra flash drives were in mine,” I say. “We only have, like, an hour of time to film left.”
“Camera okay?” Dad asks.
“Yeah,” I say, holding it up. It’s small, waterproof, shockproof. Good quality. There were a few more in my backpack just in case, but this one seems to have held up.
“Lose any footage?” he asks.
I check my jacket pocket. The memory card is still there, enclosed in a watertight plastic case.
“Nope,” I say.
“Okay, then let’s see where this leads.”
He shines his flashlight ahead of us. The stone platform we’re on narrows into a hallway leading forward. Only one way. We march ahead.
It’s a short walk, only twenty minutes, and no traps or skeletons on the way. We’re wet, and shivering, but I don’t mind it because I can feel we’ve reached the end. We found the sword. We just need to follow this path to the exit. But at the end of the tunnel, the hallway is blocked by a waterfall. A waterfall with an odd smell.
Dad stops before walking through it, holding out a hand to block me. “Acidic,” he says. “We walk through that, our skin melts off.”
“Great,” I say.
“It is,” Dad says, holding up the katana with a grin.
I smile and lift the camera. Dad poses, showing off, before slicing a door through the waterfall. The water—greenish now, I see—solidifies under the sword’s touch, creating an arc of solid water. Dad kicks it down and it shatters like glass. In front of us is a way out.
“Quick, before it goes liquid again,” I say. We rush through the open space and find ourselves in a large circular chamber, the walls carved with beautiful patterns. Above us is a slatted roof that lets in fresh air and moonlight. I look back at the waterfall, which comes out of a slit in the wall. Where the water was carved it just stops, the flowing water curving around it into the rest of the liquid parts. The waterfall ends at the floor and then seeps into two metal drains on either side. It’s beautiful. I make sure to get a slow shot of it. Then I turn around and get the whole room. The producers are going to love this.
At the far end of the room is a ladder, bolted to the wall, leading to freedom.
“We could have just come in this way?” I ask.
“Well, we would have had to get through that acid bath somehow,” Dad says. “I guess with modern technology, we could have . . . but what would be the fun in that?”
He turns and winks at me—well, at the camera—then heads for the ladder. We climb. It’s pretty high, and at the top is a grate. But, of course, it’s locked. There’s a wide opening, too large for a key, in the wall. I carefully film, clinging to the ladder.
“I know this one,” Dad says. He takes the katana and inserts it hilt first into the opening.
There’s a click, and the grate above us pops open.
And then we’re out. We climb up and into fresh air. The breeze smells so much better than the stale air of the temple below us. I look out over the tiny island we’re on. It’s so small it doesn’t have a name, barely five miles in any direction. No one has lived here in centuries.
No one wants it, either. It’s mostly rock and some wild sheep. It’s miles west of Nemuro, just outside Japan’s borders. International waters. Dad had liked that for some reason.
“Let’s go find Toma,” Dad says. “I feel like we’re south of where we went in.”
“That feels right,” I say.
We start walking. The ceiling of the room below us is underfoot, but it’s covered with grass and leaves. I would never have noticed the holes in it until we were on top of it. And besides, all the clues led to the entrance of the temple. No shame going in the front door, I guess, since we made it out. But it feels a little silly that we probably could have avoided the skeletons if only we’d done a full survey of the island when we landed this morning.
We walk for about twenty minutes before we spot Toma and his boat, right where we left them. Toma is sitting in a folding chair on the shore, his small yacht parked out in the deeper water, an inflatable motor raft next to him onshore. He has a fire going and a portable speaker out, smooth jazz playing from it. When he hears our footsteps, he looks up and grins when he sees us.
“You got wet,” he says.
“But we found it,” Dad says, holding the katana aloft.
Toma whistles. “I didn’t think it was actually real,” he says. He stands up and walks over to Dad, staring at the katana. I step forward and look too, filming it. I hadn’t really had a chance before, but now I can see it up close. The Misumune family crest is on the sheath, and the handle is carved bone or ivory, made to look like waves. It’s beautiful. Mrs. Misumune is going to be so happy when we give it to her. She’s this nice old lady whose ancestor owned the sword, and she helped us find it by letting us go through all her stuff while she brought us cookies and tea. She told us stories too, about her ancestor, and how supposedly he held off an entire flood that would have destroyed their village. Now we know how.
Though that part won’t make it onto TV. Dad always says no one would believe the magic we’ve found, and if they don’t believe the show, then they won’t believe the history. I mean, we leave some of it in—the cut waterfall will probably stay. Stuff that people might think is weird old mechanisms or tricks. People believe in that. Not so much the magic. He’ll probably say the skeletons were mechanical, and only show their shadows. He’s good at that, been doing it for years. He started out with just a little handheld camera and videos uploaded to YouTube, but his know-how propelled it bigger—now we’re on a streaming service with fancy network producers. Dad is careful about what he sends them, though. Always at the edge of believable. And he makes sure not to bring a crew along—they can’t be trusted. Plus, the unpolished handheld style is the show’s trademark.
“It sliced through water, too,” Dad says to Toma, rotating the blade in the light. “Just like the legends.”
Toma laughs. “No way,” he says.
“Tenny’s got the footage,” Dad says, walking past him to the raft. “We were chased by living skeletons.” That’s Dad testing, seeing what people will believe, what to put in the show, what to keep just for us.
Toma turns to me, his face skeptical.
“They weren’t very welcoming,” I say. Later, Dad will probably leak some of the real footage online, get people talking, theorizing. “Keep the truth illusive,” he says, “and people will watch to find it.” I don’t love that part, but I think he’s right about the magic being too unbelievable. Even if it is real, it never feels it. Like right now, I feel like I’m in on a joke. Skeletons held together with magic paper. It’s absurd. But the katana is real. Its history is real. And I want people to see that more than I care about whether they believe in magic skeletons.
We load the chair and boom box onto the raft and take it out to the yacht, where Dad and I shower off and change into the clean clothes we’d left there with our regular phones and wallets, while Toma pilots us back to Nemuro. I use a satellite uplink to set up my computer and upload all the footage from the camera into the cloud. Dad can cut stuff later and organize it to send to the producers. They have editors who will turn it into a good show.
And then I lie down. I’m so tired I can feel it in my bones . . . no, no, I don’t want to think about bones now. I just want to . . .
* * *
I wake up when Dad shakes me. We’re docked in Nemuro city. I rub my eyes as we step off the boat. The sun is just rising and the fish markets along the docks are all opening up, men bringing in their haul. It smells like the sea.
It’s not a big city, not by my native New Yorker standards, but it’s got the vibe that small coastal cities have. Big sky, ocean everywhere, people who look gruff but are actually friendly. We spent a day here before we left. There are some beautiful views and this cool arch sculpture.
But I’m glad to be going home. I miss New York. I miss Mom.
Dad pays and thanks Toma and then we start walking back to the hotel. As we walk, Dad takes out his phone and calls someone. Probably one of the producers.
“Yeah, we got it. Oh yeah, it’s a beauty. People are going to want to study this, draw it, absolutely worth a whole touring exhibition, like last time. Same deal, I go where it goes, talk about the find.”
I frown. It sounds like he’s talking to his broker. I’m never involved in this part of it, but I know Dad has a guy who reaches out to collectors and funders who will buy the stuff he finds for museums and helps set up exhibitions. Dad never talks to me about all that, it just sort of . . . happens? But this sword belongs to the Misumune family. We met them. They helped us find the temple by showing us some old scrolls and one gorgeous kimono that had a secret message in the pattern. We shouldn’t be selling it through a broker. We should be giving it back to them.
“Dad,” I say. He ignores me, keeps talking.
“Well, yeah, whoever is willing to pay the most,” he says into the phone, holding up a finger at me, telling me to wait.
It’s not like with the scepter we found in the treasure cave outside Paris. There was no family there. I mean . . . it should have stayed in France. And it did. The Louvre found an investor who bought it.
I stop walking. Dad keeps going.
I’ve never thought about it before. What we find. I’ve always just loved the adventures, the thrill, being with Dad. And yeah, it’s kind of fun being on TV. It’s not a big show, but it has fans. I get fan mail. Hate mail since I came out, too, but more fan mail.
But . . . the stuff we find. I stare at the katana. Dad has it slung over his shoulder. The Misumune family crest gleams on the sheath. The mask we found in the Mayan temple in Guatemala—our first adventure—where did that end up? I take out my phone and search. It’s in the Smithsonian, in DC. That isn’t right. It should be in Guatemala, shouldn’t it? It’s their mask, after all, their culture. Did they sell it to the Smithsonian? Is it on loan? I check the website, but there’s no information.
I look up. Dad is way ahead of me, still on the phone, and I hurry to catch up.
“That much?” Dad is saying. “Wow. Yeah, that’s a nice profit.”
“Dad,” I say. He holds up a finger again. “Dad!”
“Hold on.” Dad sighs into the phone. “Tenny, you’re fifteen, you ought to have better manners.”
“Why are you talking about selling the katana?” I ask. “You told Mrs. Misumune we’d bring it back.”
Dad raises his eyebrows. “Well, sure, back to the world. Back into the light. This way she can see it. I’m sure whomever ends up with it will want to talk to her, maybe borrow that kimono, have her talk—”
“But it’s hers,” I say. “It belongs to her family.”
Dad scrunches his eyes like he’s going to laugh. “Maybe hundreds of years ago, but you can’t expect me to give it back to her because she has, like, a few genes in common with the guy who originally wielded it.”
“But—” I say. Dad holds up his finger again and goes back to the phone.
Mrs. Misumune was nice. She was old but loved talking to us through the translator Dad had hired. Told us all the family stories. About her ancestor, but also about her grandkids’ art projects, too. About how her daughter had recently told her she was a lesbian and it had taken time, but family was important to her, and she’d learned about queer people, and now she marched in pride parades. She gave us tea and let us poke through her things. I took hours of footage with her, and she signed the release forms without asking for a thing, except that we bring back the sword. She said she wanted to see it. See her family legacy. And now we’re just . . .
“Okay, talk later,” Dad says into the phone, and hangs up.
“Dad, we promised.”
“Tenny, come on, she didn’t really think she was going to just bury this in the back of her closet like her old photos and kimono,” he says. “She just wanted to see it.”
“I don’t think that’s what she meant.”
“Tenny, listen, this is a museum piece.”
“Isn’t that her decision?” I ask. I can feel myself getting hot, like I do when I’m angry. Usually, it’s with Mom, though. I never fight with Dad. We’re too busy in temples, on adventures.
“And what about the mask we found in Guatemala?” I ask.
“What?” Dad asks, confused.
“The mask we found. Why is it in DC? It’s not American.”
“Well, no,” Dad says. He stops walking. We’re outside the hotel now. “But they paid the most through a patron who bought it to donate to them so they could put on a real exhibition. No museum in Guatemala was going to do that.”
“But it’s a Guatemalan artifact,” I say. “It’s part of their history.”
“It’s Mayan,” Dad says. “What is this even about?”
“We should give the katana to Mrs. Misumune,” I say, crossing my arms. “That’s the right thing to do. If she wants to donate it to a museum, it’s her choice. Or we should at least ask her.”
“Uh-uh, if the Japanese government finds out we brought it to Japan, there’ll be all kinds of legal holdups, UNESCO might get involved.”
“UNESCO are the good guys,” I say. I’m sure of that. I’ve visited plenty of heritage sites with Mom.
“There are no good guys or bad guys here,” Dad says, his voice rising. “I’m doing what’s best.”
“Best for who? You?” I’m shouting now. People on the street are politely trying not to stare.
“Best for history, Tenny. These objects need to be protected, put places people can see them. The people with the most money can do that.”
“But how can people get money if you keep stealing what should be theirs from them?”
Dad’s face goes cold as stone.
“Stealing?” he asks. “You think I’m stealing?”
“Well,” I say, swallowing. “If we go into another country and find some historically significant object and then just leave with it . . . or if we have something”—I gesture at the katana—“and we know who it belongs to but sell it to someone else . . .”
“It belongs to us now,” Dad says. “We just spent weeks looking for a temple—years if you count all the research I did before that—and then we went to it, made our way through traps and killer skeletons to bring it back. Who else could this possibly belong to? If Mrs. Misumune wanted her family sword back so badly, she should have gone and done that herself.”
“But, Dad,” I say. He’s really angry now. I’ve never seen him like this. I can feel myself starting to cry. “It’s . . . not right.”
Dad rolls his eyes. “I knew I shouldn’t have brought a child with me. If you don’t want to be a part of this, Tennessee, you can just find your own way home.”
And then he turns and walks away. I know I’m not supposed to go after him, so I don’t. Instead, I go into the hotel. I still have our keys. I walk up to my room and wait for him to come back. The sun goes up, then down. I keep waiting.
TWO YEARS LATER
What I love about Fridays is my first period is free, so I can come in late. And yes, that means sleeping in, which is nice, but better than that, it means when I walk to school, Greenwich Village is already awake. Most days it’s people in suits on their way to work, or other teenagers going to school like me, but everyone is still groggy, things are still getting set up.
But on Fridays, the city is fully awake by the time I walk to school. And one of the best things about New York is that you can vanish just by turning a corner. Walking to school, I’m not Tennessee Russo anymore. It’s the thing I’ve loved the most since I left Dad’s TV show two years ago. If anyone recognizes me, they don’t say anything. I’m just some kid.
Well, some queer kid. The pride button on my backpack at least labels me that much. Which I love too, because as I walk through the Village, I see other queer people and there’s like this link between us when we recognize each other. Two butches nod at me like we’re friends. A twink with a group of college kids, two of whom are fighting loudly, gives me an eye roll, and I know exactly what he means: straight people, oy. I’m glad to be gay, glad to be part of whatever weird little network I’m in, glad to have a family, even if I don’t know them.
I have Mom, sure, and I love her and she’s great, but it’s not the same. And Dad . . . well, when your dad walks away from you in Japan and you find your own way back to the hotel and then he doesn’t call for a day or answer his phone and you’re completely alone in a foreign country so you have to call your mom to buy you a plane ticket home and you still haven’t heard from him, and maybe he’s dead or maybe you’re dead to him and you don’t know until a month later when he
emails you with “Want to join me at the unveiling of this katana?”—after something like that, your dad doesn’t really count as family anymore. Especially when you haven’t spoken since then. Sure, there was the apology email when I didn’t respond to the invitation—“I know things got a little heated and you had to make your own way home, but that’s nothing compared to the ruins we’ve explored, right? I knew you’d be fine, but I’m sorry if you were worried”—but I didn’t respond to that, either. Even if I wanted to. Still want to. But I have this family now that’s better than Dad. This weird family of neighborhood queers I’ve never spoken to, and then at school, I have my friends, and David. David, whom I’ve dated for a year and a half. David, who saw me alone in the cafeteria and didn’t just stare and whisper, talking about me on TV, talking about how I came out on TV. He came over and said hi. And he asked me out. And he gave me my first kiss a week later, tilting my chin up to his with just his finger. He introduced me to all his friends—the Good Upstanding Queers, they call themselves, because they all want to be lawyers and politicians and stuff, so they always behave themselves. As opposed to the other queer table in the lunchroom, who can sometimes be a bit much.
And a month ago David told me he loved me, and I said it back, and we had sex for the first time.
David and all his friends—our friends—they took me in when Dad abandoned me, when I hadn’t even been at school in a few years because of the show and didn’t know anyone. I could have been that freak ex–child star, but they made me part of their family. Way more than Dad is.
Which is why I’m glad to see David standing by my locker when I get to school. I smile and walk up to him. He’s so handsome—tall, sandy blond hair, bright blue eyes, wide shoulders, and a broad stomach, which I think is so hot. He’s wearing a polo and cardigan. It’s December, and the school never feels warm enough, so we have to layer up. And he always dresses like he’s an adult already, which I like. Nothing casual or lazy, he says. He helped me pick out my entire wardrobe.
But he’s not smiling when I smile at him. And when I go to give him a kiss, he pulls back. I can feel myself immediately break out in a sweat, and not just because I still have my peacoat on. Something is wrong.
“Ten,” he says in a heavy voice that tells me it’s about me, too. About us.
“David?” I ask.
“Can we talk?” Those aren’t good words, either. My brain tries to figure out what it could be. We’re breaking up because of something I did? I haven’t done anything, though. And he loves me, right? Maybe he’s sick. Dying.
I nod, and he pulls me into the bathroom down the hall.
“What is it?” I ask, and the words tremble a little, which I hate. I’ve faced off against the reanimated dead, but my boyfriend wanting to talk to me makes me so scared I can’t even get a word out right.
“So . . .” He swallows. “Two weeks ago, Brandon and I met up at his place for the science project we’re paired up on, you know? The bio thing?”
He pauses and I realize I’m supposed to respond, even though I don’t like this already. Brandon is another of the Good Upstanding Queers. He’s red-haired and pretty and wants to be a reporter. David is still looking at me, so I nod.
“Well . . . one thing led to another. And we kissed.”
There it is. There was one time my dad and I, in a treasure cave in France, had to run from a rolling boulder down this long hallway. Those words are like a boulder dropping and coming toward me. All I want to do is run. But he reaches out and grabs my wrist.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
I take a deep breath. I can forgive this. This is nothing, right? “Well, if it was just a kiss—”
“It wasn’t,” he interrupts. “It was at first, I mean. But then . . . it was more.”
“Oh.” The boulder is closer and closer.
“And . . . the thing is, Ten. I really like him. I think . . . I’m so sorry, but . . . I want to be with him. I have been with him. We’ve kind of been dating since then . . .”
And now the boulder has hit me. It never did in that temple. Dad saw an alcove and pulled me into it, and the huge rock rolled by us and we laughed with relief. It looked great on the show, too. But this is what it would have felt like to get hit by it, I know. This is what it’s like to be thoroughly crushed, every breath pushed out of you, every muscle popped, every bone shattered by more weight than you were
ever meant to handle.
“So . . . sorry,” he says. He lets go of my wrist. “I’m breaking up with you.”
I nod. “I got that.” I feel myself starting to cry but hold it back.
“Just . . . don’t make a big thing of it, okay. We should stay friends, right? We are friends. And you’re friends with Brandon, too. It’s just . . .a little shifting, right? We’re the Good Upstanding Queers. We’re not drama queens. We’re not going to make a big deal of it, right?”
I nod again, just so he’ll leave.
“Good. So, still friends. I’m glad you’re handling this so well . . .” He pauses, and I feel like I’m supposed to say something again, but this time I don’t. “Okay, well. See you at lunch.”
He leaves and I finally let myself cry for real. Just bawl for a moment, my face collapsing like a landslide. I take out my phone and text Daniela. She’s my best friend aside from David, another of the Good Upstanding Queers.
David dumped me
He cheated on me with Brandon and now he’s leaving me for him
I wait a minute. She’s probably still in class, but Daniela is an expert at under table texting.
Oh thank god he finally told you
It’s like being hit with a second boulder. You’d think there’d be nothing left to crush, but . . .
We all did
I’m sorry Ten ❤
But it’s better this way
Now we can all just go back to normal
They all did? “All” must mean every one of our friends. Not the whole school, right? And no one told me. They all just . . . watched. Laughed, maybe?
Don’t worry about it
We all think it was tacky of David to cheat
But they’ll make a cute couple, and we’ll find you someone new
No drama, or people won’t take us seriously, right? That’s our motto 😘
I stare at the messages for a minute without responding. So many people want me to respond and all I can give them is silence. Normally I’m good at decisions. I see options in front of me like lists, and I can choose one quickly, and once I’m in, I’m in. But I don’t see options here. What options are there? Respond with “sure thing, no drama”? I’m supposed to what . . . just smile when David drapes his arm around Brandon at lunch the way he always did to me?
They’ve always been like this. They don’t want to be seen as bad gays—too dramatic, too slutty. The other queer table at the lunchroom is loud and messy. Everyone is always sleeping with everyone, they make out in hallways instead of just exchanging kisses. They dress loud. They are loud. Teachers don’t love them. But they love us. No drama from us.
Not even, apparently, when it’s warranted.
The bell rings. I rinse my face off and make my way to class. Thankfully, I don’t have classes with any of our Good Upstanding Queer friends today. I’m in the AP History class, a double period, which none of our friends is in. They thought that was so cool. That my wanting to be an archaeologist, like both my parents, was cool. They never asked about my dad, about the show, though they knew. Everyone was so nice. So classy. So polite. But I guess that’s not the same as being kind.
I manage not to cry, but I barely take anything in, either. We’re talking about ancient India and I want to say something about the century-old queer sculptures at Khajuraho that I learned about during my internship at the museum, but I can’t bring myself to raise my hand. Same in math class. And then it’s time for lunch.
I walk into the cafeteria and immediately realize it was a mistake. It’s like looking at a pool of water and thinking it’s not going to be that cold but then you dive in and it’s freezing. I can’t do this. I can’t just sit with everyone and pretend I’m cool, that it’s normal. I don’t want to be the one to cause drama. I know that’ll just make it worse. I know if I start something, make people choose sides, then they’ll all side with David, because I’ll be the one causing the drama, and that immediately makes me the loser. Even if this is all because of what he did. All because of his choices. But I don’t want to lose my friends.
So I walk in and grab a tray and some lunch, like I always do. Then I turn and start walking toward our usual table, also just like I always do. They’re all sitting there, talking, laughing—just like they always do.
Except David is next to Brandon. He has his arm around him, just like I knew he would. But I can do this, right? I can be the bigger person.
David looks up. Our eyes meet.
And suddenly, I realize, I have options.
Turn around, walk out. David sees this and feels like he’s won, something, somehow. That he’s the mature one and I’m the one being a drama queen about this.
Go sit down with them, act like nothing is wrong. Everyone will be happy, but David and Brandon will think what they’ve done is okay. That I’m okay with it. I’m not.
Go make a scene at the table. No one will ever talk to me again. I still have half of junior and all of senior year to get through.
Something totally unexpected.
I don’t smile, but I make it seem like I don’t even see them. I walk right past the table, then down the aisle two tables and sit down next to Gabe. He’s cute, with dark skin that’s almost blue where the light hits it. He’s also kind of the opposite of David, with a pink fro-hawk that’s
grown out a few inches, and pierced everything, including holes in his ears you can put a finger through. He’s wearing a tank top even though it’s December. The tank top has a naked man riding a gun on it.
“Um, hi,” Gabe says. The rest of the table turn to look at me. The Bad Queers. Some look confused. Some look happy I’ve joined them. They’re not actually bad. I’m kind of friends with some of them, or think I am? Wish I was more. When did I become such a snob? When did I accept that my table at lunch was “good” and this one was “bad” just because David said so?
“Hi,” I say, smiling at the table. Then I turn to Gabe. “Wanna make out?” I ask. I know the answer is yes. Gabe has been flirting with me for over a year. He knew I was with David, but that never seemed to bother him.
“Sure.” Gabe grins. “When?”
“Now,” I say. “David cheated on me. You don’t mind being used, do you?”
“Not at all,” Gabe says, lunging for my face.
It’s weird kissing someone who isn’t David. David’s kisses were always forceful, demanding, but Gabe’s kisses feel more searching. Curious. I guess that’s because we’ve never kissed before. His tongue darts softly between my lips and I open my mouth more, accepting. He wraps his arms around me then, holding me tight, one hand sliding down my lower back. I wrap my arms around him, too, and squeeze his ass. I can feel him grin when our mouths meet again. After what feels
like enough time, I pull back.
“Well, you definitely got his attention,” says Lexi, one of the other Bad Queers. “He’s staring bullets at you.”
I don’t turn and look. I can feel my heart go a little faster. I don’t care what David or Brandon thinks, but I hope Daniela and the rest of them aren’t going to make a thing of it. I hope I haven’t just gotten myself kicked out of the only queer community I really know.
Maybe option four was a bad choice. That’s the thing. I know my options—doesn’t mean I always pick the good one.
“You okay?” Gabe asks. He puts his hand on mine and it feels so much more intimate than what we just did. I pull my hand away and make myself smile.
“Absolutely. And thanks,” I say to Gabe, “for letting me use you.”
“Anytime,” Gabe says. “Maybe you’ll be around over break?”
“Maybe,” I say, giving him a look I hope is coy. At least he likes me. Someone does. I look around the table, and people are smiling at me, not glaring, not rolling their eyes, the way they would be at my usual table. Maybe I’m a Bad Queer, too.
Okay, probably not. I’m literally dressed in a blue blazer. But . . .
“Can I eat with all of you?” I ask.
“Sure,” Gabe says. The others nod. I take my lunch out and we all eat and talk, and sometimes Gabe runs his hand up and down my spine, which makes me shiver but in a good way. I don’t look back even once, but when lunch is over and I’m sitting down in English class, I glance at my phone. I have one new message from David:
Lev Rosen writes books for people of all ages, most recently Lavender House, which the New York Times says “movingly explores the strain of trying to pass as straight at a time when living an authentic life could be deadly” and was a Best Book of the Year from Buzzfeed, Library Journal, Amazon, and Bookpage, amongst others. His prior novel, Camp, was a best book of the year from Forbes, Elle, and The Today Show, amongst others. His next book, Lion’s Legacy will be released in May, The Bell in the Fog in October and Emmett in November. He lives in NYC with his husband and a very small cat. You can find him online at LevACRosen.com and @LevACRosen.
Today on the site, I am delighted to reveal this extremely excellent trailer for one of my favorite authors, Lev A.C. Rosen, and his equally excellent upcoming gay historical mystery, Lavender House, which releases from Forge on October 18th! Here’s the story:
Lavender House, 1952: the family seat of recently deceased matriarch Irene Lamontaine, head of the famous Lamontaine soap empire. Irene’s recipes for her signature scents are a well guarded secret—but it’s not the only one behind these gates. This estate offers a unique freedom, where none of the residents or staff hide who they are. But to keep their secret, they’ve needed to keep others out. And now they’re worried they’re keeping a murderer in.
Irene’s widow hires Evander Mills to uncover the truth behind her mysterious death. Andy, recently fired from the San Francisco police after being caught in a raid on a gay bar, is happy to accept—his calendar is wide open. And his secret is the kind of secret the Lamontaines understand.
Andy had never imagined a world like Lavender House. He’s seduced by the safety and freedom found behind its gates, where a queer family lives honestly and openly. But that honesty doesn’t extend to everything, and he quickly finds himself a pawn in a family game of old money, subterfuge, and jealousy—and Irene’s death is only the beginning.
When your existence is a crime, everything you do is criminal, and the gates of Lavender House can’t lock out the real world forever. Running a soap empire can be a dirty business.
Sound amazing? It is. But you only partially have to take my word for it, because this trailer is worth a thousand of them. But first, a few words from the author:
“I’m so thrilled to present you all with this vintage ad for Lamontaine Soap, the soap company featured in Lavender House. I was so thrilled and excited to hire my dear friends Florian and Jes to create this project, which I gave them only a little direction on. They created something amazing, vintage, ominous, and a little sexy. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please pre-order the book (out Oct 18th!) and share the video on social media! Hope you all stay as fresh as flowers.
And now, without further ado, the trailer for Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen, starring Jes Bedwinek and directed by M. Florian Staab!
Want to re-port the trailer? Click here to download it in TikTok-friendly format and here for square format!
Lev Rosen writes books for people of all ages, most recently Camp, which was a best book of the year from Forbes, Elle, and The Today Show, amongst others and is a Lambda finalist, an ALA Rainbow List Top Ten and is being adapted into a film directed by and starring Billy Porter. His next book, Lavender House, will be released fall of 2022, and after that Tennessee Russo in Spring of 2023. He lives in NYC with his husband and a very small cat. You can find him online at LevACRosen.com and @LevACRosen
Senior marketing executive at Vintage UK Carmella Lowkis‘s SPITTING GOLD, a queer historical debut, set in 19th-century Paris, following two sisters—on the outside, gifted mediums, but in reality, astute con-artists—and when they reunite for one last con at an aristocratic family’s old estate, they begin to question whether they really are at the mercy of a vengeful spirit, and wonder just what other deep, dark secrets the family are hiding, to Loan Le at Atria, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Ginger Clark at Ginger Clark Literary, on behalf of Rachel Neely at Mushens Entertainment (NA).
Author of THE CHARM OFFENSIVE Alison Cochrun‘s HERE WE GO AGAIN, a queer road trip rom-com in which two childhood best friends-turned-rivals team up to help fulfill their former teacher’s dying wish by driving him across the country—only to end up wildly off course, to Kaitlin Olson at Atria, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2024, by Bibi Lewis at Ethan Ellenberg Agency (world).
Charlie Castelletti writing as C. A. Castle‘s THE MANOR HOUSE GOVERNESS, pitched as a love letter to the British Classics—and particularly JANE EYRE—in which a young, queer, nonbinary teacher takes a job as a governess for an eccentric family and becomes swept up in the family’s tangled past while also navigating an inconvenient attraction to his employer’s adult son, to Jess Verdi at Alcove Press, for publication in fall 2023, by Caroline Eisenmann at Frances Goldin Literary Agency (world, excl. UK).
Essayist and author of Lambda Literary Award Finalist SOME HELL Patrick Nathan‘s THE FUTURE WAS COLOR, about a gay Hungarian immigrant working as a studio hack writing monster movies in 1950s Los Angeles, facing the McCarthy-era studio system filled with possible Communists, spies, and the life of closeted men along Sunset Boulevard, whose friendship with a famous actress unlocks memories of his postwar life in Manhattan, pitched as a narrative mix of GODS AND MONSTERS and Eve Babitz, spanning from sun-drenched Los Angeles, to corners of working-class New York, to a virtuosic climax in the Las Vegas desert, to Dan Smetanka at Counterpoint, in a nice deal, for publication in 2024, by Erik Hane at Headwater Literary Management (world English).
Authors of THE VERY NICE BOX Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman‘s TRUST & SAFETY, about a newlywed straight couple who leave NYC in an attempt to buy their way into a “wild and precious” existence in the Hudson Valley, where they encounter—and quickly become entangled with—a queer couple living the dream analog life; examining questions of authenticity, betrayal, paternity, and entitlement, while poking fun at contemporary fear of the “gay agenda,” moving with Pilar Garcia-Brown at Dutton, by Faye Bender at The Book Group (NA).
Colombian poet Fatima Velez‘s GALAPAGOS, following a group of bohemian artists who are dying of AIDS as they embark on a final voyage through the Galapagos islands, their decaying bodies cloaked in the skins of their dead; a lyrical novel in which the alliance between female and queer male bodies is deeply fraught, and the intersection of AIDS and motherhood are interrogated in love, friendship, and abjection, to Deborah Ghim at Astra House, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall 2024, by Maria Lynch at Casanovas & Lynch Agency (world English).
Elaine Tipping‘s PATHWAYS: CHRONICLES OF TUVANA, a queer fantasy epic graphic novel that takes place in a world under siege by an ancient empire bent on restoring its perceived rightful control, following a small band of characters and the journey they take to become heroes, pitched as perfect for fans of Lord of the Rings, The Adventure Zone, and Monstress, to Brett Israel at Dark Horse, in a three-book deal, for publication in fall 2024, by Claire Draper at The Bent Agency (world English).
Sex and culture critic Ella Dawson‘s THE REUNION, about a burned-out bisexual young woman who attends her five-year college reunion only to encounter her estranged chosen family, old demons, and the ex she maybe shouldn’t have walked away from, to Maya Ziv at Dutton, in a pre-empt, by Jamie Carr at The Book Group (NA).
Author of NEVER BEEN KISSED and YOU’RE A MEAN ONE MATHEW PRINCE Timothy Janovsky‘s THE GAMES WE PLAY, a queer romance where a man auditions for a Supermarket Sweep-style reality show with a fake boyfriend following a breakup and falls head-over-heels in the process, to John Jacobson at Harlequin Desire, in a three-book deal, by Samantha Fabien at Root Literary.
Author of the Lambda Award-winning THE SAVAGE KIND and the Macavity Award-winning DODGING AND BURNING John Copenhaver‘s HALL OF MIRRORS, the second book in the Nightingale Trilogy, pitched as a twist on the traditional noir exploring LGBTQ issues, race, and corruption during Eisenhower Era DC, in which the suspicious death of a famous mystery author forces the tenacious heroines of THE SAVAGE KIND to face difficult truths about themselves amid the darkest days of McCarthyism and the Lavender Scare, to Claiborne Hancock at Pegasus Crime, by Annie Bomke at Annie Bomke Literary Agency.
Author of PAPER IS WHITE Hilary Zaid’s FORGET I TOLD YOU THIS, about a queer artist who, while toiling away in obscurity, stumbles into a scheme to upend a social media giant gone berserk, to Courtney Ochsner at University of Nebraska Press, in a nice deal, for publication in September 2023 (world).
Karelia Stetz-Waters and wife Fay Stetz-Waters’s SECOND NIGHT STAND, about a high-strung former ballerina and a burlesque dancer who have a memorable one night stand on a lesbian cruise and then meet again when their dance companies make the cut on a reality TV show, to Madeleine Colavita at Forever Yours, by Jane Dystel at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (NA).
Jane Kindred’s MASTER OF THE GAME, the third book in the queer Demons of Elysium series, set in a Russian-inspired heaven, to Rachel Haimowitz at Riptide Publishing, in an exclusive submission, for publication in 2023, by Sara Megibow at kt literary.
Rae Valtera’s HER DARK GRACE, in which a woman, in a queer-normative world of magic, battles gods who despise having a shadow-marked rule their realm, and in order to survive the gods’ wrath, she must find allies among those who sanctioned the killing of her kind, to Brittany Weisrock at Lake Country Press, for publication in fall 2025 (US).
National Jewish Book Award winner Nancy Churnin‘s picture book THE RAINBOW BRIGADE, pitched as inspired by true events, the story of kids who stood against hate and rallied their neighborhood together to support a lesbian couple whose pride flag and home were vandalized, illustrated by Izzy Evans, to Naomi Krueger at Beaming Books, for publication in spring 2024, by Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary for the author, and by Lucie Luddington at The Bright Group for the illustrator (world).
Young Adult Fiction
Debut author Anthony Nerada‘s SKATER BOY, a queer spin on an Avril Lavigne classic that follows resident a bad boy and his star-crossed romance with a ballet dancer, to Alexa Wejko at Soho Teen, for publication in spring 2024, by Rena Rossner at Deborah Harris Agency (NA).
Author of SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND David Valdes‘s FINDING MY ELF, a queer rom-com about a boy who’s trying to find the “the one” and also trying to find himself while spending winter break working at a hectic Santa’s Village, to Stephanie Guerdan at Harper Teen, for publication in fall 2023, by Annie Bomke at Annie Bomke Literary Agency (world).
Lambda finalist author of CAMP Lev Rosen’s EMMETT, pitched as a queer contemporary take on Jane Austen’s Emma, to Alvina Ling at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication in fall 2023, by Joy Tutela at David Black Literary Agency (world).
Author of MANU Kelly Fernandez‘s PRINCE FELIX AND LA PLUMA MAGIA, a queer YA romantic adventure featuring a prince who receives a magical feather from the bird of many colors and is led to a hunter instead of a princess, to Cassandra Pelham Fulton at Graphix, in a good deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2024, by Tanya McKinnon at McKinnon Literary (world).
Leslie Vedder‘s THE CURSED ROSE, the third and final book in her debut LGBTQ+ fantasy trilogy that began with THE BONE SPINDLE, pitched as a gender-flipped retelling of Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones, in which a cursed treasure hunter and an axe-wielding huntswoman must team up in the treasure hunt of a lifetime to save a lost prince—and now the kingdom, to Ruta Rimas at Razorbill, for publication in early 2024, by Carrie Hannigan and Ellen Goff at HG Literary (NA).
Erin Baldwin‘s debut WISH YOU WERE(N’T) HERE, pitched as THE HATING GAME for teens, a f/f rom-com following childhood rivals who are forced to be summer camp cabin mates and must decide what they want more: to kill each other, or to kiss, to Aneeka Kalia at Viking Children’s, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2024, by Lauren Spieller at TriadaUS Literary Agency (world English).
Emily Riesbeck and Bayleigh Underwood‘s LUCKY 555, a queer sci-fi YA graphic novel pitched as The Expanse meets Paper Girls, where the citizens of the sky resign themselves to a slow, miserable decline, and a self-centered orphan teen meets a stowaway android who is hiding a secret that could turn the sky upside down, but her wealthy and domineering father won’t let her—or his secret—go that easily, to Charlotte Greenbaum at Amulet, in a two-book deal, for publication in spring 2024, by Claire Draper at The Bent Agency (world).
Nita Tyndall‘s HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL, a thriller about a North Carolina teen whose father is a notorious imprisoned serial killer, and when another girl is murdered, and signs point to the girl they love being next, they’ll have to confront their father as well as the ghosts that haunt them, to Stephanie Stein at Harper Teen, for publication in winter 2024, by Eric Smith at P.S. Literary Agency (world English).
Author of BEAUTY AND THE BESHARAM Lillie Vale‘s HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST CHARM, a sapphic paranormal adventure pitched as YA THE EX HEX by way of Casey McQuiston, where a skeptic accidentally hexes her romantic rival (and secret crush) with dangerous bad luck and must team up with her rival’s exes on a quest to undo the damage she’s done, to Dana Leydig at Viking Children’s, for publication in fall 2024, by Jessica Watterson at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency (world English).
Dr. Angelo Robinson PhD’s NOT THE BOY FOR YOU, using both literary and epistolary forms to chart the author’s journey to unapologetic wholeness as young, Black, and gay in the 1960s South and finding internal acceptance after being rejected from all sides via country, culture, family, and religion, while examining the complex reality of how the Black male body has been perceived, exploited, and explored through the lens of James Baldwin’s political and narrative thought, to Alicia Sparrow at Chicago Review Press, for publication in fall 2023 (world).
Poet, director, and songwriter W.J. Lofton‘s SUE CITY, a memoir of the author’s childhood experience of family separation via Chicago’s foster care system, the bond that persevered between him and his sister Willette as they relocated to the South, his discovery of his queer identity, and his development as a young Black queer artist, to Catherine Tung at Beacon Press, by Kent Wolf at Neon Literary (world).
Mark Jason Williams and Amy Scher‘s untitled LGBTQIA-focused travel guide, highlighting inclusive destinations around the world, with itineraries that highlight what to do, where to go, what to see, where to stay, what to eat, and more, to Allyson Johnson at National Geographic, in a pre-empt, by Steve Harris at CSG Literary Partners (world).
From the bestselling author of She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, Good Boy is a memoir that explores seven crucial moments of growth and transformation in Boylan’s life, accompanied by seven unforgettable dogs.
“Boylan’s newest book is a touching look at the different identities she’s inhabited through her many furry friends—whose love has been a constant in a life marked by change.” —O, The Oprah Magazine, “44 LGBTQ Books That Are Changing the Literary Landscape in 2020”
The pirate Florian, born Flora, has always done whatever it takes to survive—including sailing under false flag on the Dove as a marauder, thief, and worse. Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a highborn Imperial daughter, is on board as well—accompanied by her own casket.
But Evelyn’s one-way voyage to an arranged marriage in the Floating Islands is interrupted when the captain and crew show their true colors and enslave their wealthy passengers.
Both Florian and Evelyn have lived their lives by the rules, and whims, of others. But when they fall in love, they decide to take fate into their own hands—no matter the cost.
What he needs is for his favorite author to release another one of her sexy supernatural novels and more people to sign up for the romance book club that he fears is slowly and steadily losing its steam. He also needs for the new employee at his local bookstore to stop making fun of him for reading things meant for “grandmas.”
The very last thing he needs is for that same employee, Rex Bailey, to waltz into his living room and ask to join Meet Cute Club. Despite his immediate thoughts—like laughing in his face and telling him to kick rocks—Jordan decides that if he wants this club to continue thriving, he can’t turn away any new members. Not even ones like Rex, who somehow manage to be both frustratingly obnoxious and breathtakingly handsome.
As Jordan and Rex team up to bring the club back from the ashes, Jordan soon discovers that Rex might not be the arrogant troll he made himself out to be, and that, like with all things in life, maybe he was wrong to judge a book by its cover.
Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Alani Baum, a non-binary photographer and teacher, hasn’t seen their mother since they ran away with their girlfriend when they were seventeen — almost thirty years ago. But when Alani gets a call from a doctor at the assisted living facility where their mother has been for the last five years, they learn that their mother’s dementia has worsened and appears to have taken away her ability to speak. As a result, Alani suddenly find themselves running away again — only this time, they’re running back to their mother.
Staying at their mother’s empty home, Alani attempts to tie up the loose ends of their mother’s life while grappling with the painful memories that—in the face of their mother’s disease — they’re terrified to lose. Meanwhile, the memories inhabiting the house slowly grow animate, and the longer Alani is there, the longer they’re forced to confront the fact that any closure they hope to get from this homecoming will have to be manufactured.
The Art of Drag by Jake Hall, ill. by Sofie Birkin, Helen Li, Jasjyot Singh Hans (5th)
The history of drag has been formed by many intersections: fashion, theatre, sexuality and politics–all coming together to create the show stopping entertainment millions witness today. In this extensive work, Jake Hall delves deep into the ancient beginnings of drag, to present day and beyond. Vibrant illustrations enhance the rich history from Kabuki theatre to Shakespearean, the revolutionary Stonewall riots to the still thriving New York ballroom scene. Nothing will go undocumented in this must-have documentation of all things drag.
“Toward what goal do I aspire, ever, but collision? Always accident, concussion, bodies butting together . . . By collision I also mean metaphor and metonymy: operations of slide and slip and transfuse.”
In his new nonfiction collection, poet, artist, critic, novelist, and performer Wayne Koestenbaum enacts twenty-six ecstatic collisions between his mind and the world. A subway passenger’s leather bracelet prompts musings on the German word for stranger; Montaigne leads to the memory of a fourth-grade friend’s stinky feet. Koestenbaum dreams about a hand job from John Ashbery, swims next to Nicole Kidman, reclaims Robert Rauschenberg’s squeegee, and apotheosizes Marguerite Duras as a destroyer of sentences. He directly proposes assignments to readers: “Buy a one-dollar cactus, and start anthropomorphizing it. Call it Sabrina.” “Describe an ungenerous or unkind act you have committed.” “Find in every orgasm an encyclopedic richness . . . Reimagine doing the laundry as having an orgasm, and reinterpret orgasm as not a tiny experience, temporally limited, occurring in a single human body, but as an experience that somehow touches on all of human history.” Figure It Out is both a guidebook for, and the embodiment of, the practices of pleasure, attentiveness, art, and play.
Skyler, Ellie, Scarlett and Amelia Grace are forced to spend the summer at the lake house where their moms became best friends.
One can’t wait. One would rather gnaw off her own arm than hang out with a bunch of strangers just so their moms can drink too much wine and sing Journey two o’clock in the morning. Two are sisters. Three are currently feuding with their mothers.
One almost sets her crush on fire with a flaming marshmallow. Two steal the boat for a midnight joyride that goes horribly, awkwardly wrong. All of them are hiding something.
One falls in love with a boy she thought she despised. Two fall in love with each other. None of them are the same at the end of the summer.
A young teenager stays a step ahead of her parents’ sexuality-based restrictions by running away and learns a very different set of rules. A woman grieves the loss of a sister, a “gay divorce,” and the pain of unacknowledged abuse with the help of a lone wallaby on a farm in Washington State. A professor of women’s and gender studies revels in academic and sexual power but risks losing custody of the family dog.
In Corinne Manning’s stunning debut story collection, a cast of queer characters explore the choice of assimilation over rebellion. In this historical moment that’s hyperaware of and desperate to define even the slowest of continental shifts, when commitment succumbs to the logic of capitalism and nobody knows what to call each other or themselves—Gay? Lesbian? Queer? Partners? Dad?—who are we? And if we don’t know who we are, what exactly can we offer each other?
Spanning the years 1992 to 2019, and moving from New York to North Carolina to Seattle, the eleven first-person stories in We Had No Rules feature characters who feel the promise of a radically reimagined world but face complicity instead.
Have you ever met someone and felt like you’ve known them in a thousand different lifetimes?
Lindsay Hall was a high school senior when she and her friend Patty discovered peach schnapps, listened to a past-life hypnosis CD, and got an up-close look at who she once was. And who she used to love. The knowledge of her past life has always haunted Lindsay. As her ex-husband is happy to point out, it’s made her a pretty crappy partner, too. Even her teenage daughter has politely suggested that she “get the eff over it.” Except she didn’t say eff.
Ren Christopher just wants a quick break before she starts a new job in London. She’s just extracted herself from a not-brief-enough, drama-filled relationship. A few weeks relaxing, drinking too much wine, and hanging with her old college friend Patty is just what the doctor ordered. No pressure, no expectations, and absolutely no drama.
Everything is perfect until Lindsay faints at the sight of Ren.
It’s the late 1960s in McKinney, Texas. At the downtown theater and the local drive-in, movies—James Bond, My Fair Lady, Alfie, and Dr. Zhivago—feed the dreams and obsessions of a ten-year-old Clarke who loves Audrey, Elvis, his family, and the handsome boy in the projector booth. Then Clarke loses his beloved mother, and no one will tell him how she died. No one will tell her either. She is floating above the trees and movie screens of McKinney, trapped between life and death, searching for a glimpse of her final moments on this earth. Clarke must find the shattering truth, which haunts this darkly humorous and incredibly moving novel.
Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school’s magic club—to see him through to graduation.
But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs.
With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix.
Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled―but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.
As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.
More than five years in the making, Mark Gevisser’s The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers is a globetrotting exploration of how the human rights frontier around sexual orientation and gender identity has come to divide—and describe—the world in an entirely new way over the first two decades of the twenty-first century. No social movement has brought change so quickly and with such dramatically mixed results. While same-sex marriage and gender transition is celebrated in some parts of the world, laws are being strengthened to criminalize homosexuality and gender nonconformity in others. A new Pink Line, Gevisser argues, has been drawn across the world, and he takes readers to its frontiers.
In between sharp analytical chapters about culture wars, folklore, gender ideology, and geopolitics, Gevisser provides sensitive and sometimes startling profiles of the queer folk he’s encountered on the Pink Line’s front lines across nine countries. They include a trans Malawian refugee granted asylum in South Africa and a gay Ugandan refugee stuck in Nairobi; a lesbian couple who started a gay café in Cairo after the Arab Spring, a trans woman fighting for custody of her child in Moscow, and a community of kothis—“women’s hearts in men’s bodies”—who run a temple in an Indian fishing village.
Eye-opening, moving, and crafted with expert research, compelling narrative, and unprecedented scope, The Pink Line is a monumental—and vital—journey through the border posts of the world’s new LGBTQ+ frontiers.
New Year’s Eve, 1929. Millie is the emcee of the Cloak & Dagger, an LGTQ-friendly speakeasy deep in the heart of the French Quarter, full of bootleg booze, cabaret acts, and where the New Orleans elite comes out to play. Her best friend, Marion, is the star of the show–his diehard fans wouldn’t miss a performance from the boy in the red dress. And together they rule the underground scene.
Then a young socialite draped in furs starts asking questions, wielding a photograph of a boy who looks a lot like Marion. When the socialite’s body is found slumped in the back alley, all signs point to Marion as the murderer. Millie is determined to prove her best friend’s innocence, even if that means risking her own life. As she chases clues that lead to cemeteries and dead ends, Millie’s attention is divided between the wry and beautiful Olive, a waitress at the Cloak & Dagger, and Bennie, the charming bootlegger who’s offered to help her find the murderer. The clock is ticking for the fugitive Marion, but the truth of who the killer is might be closer than Millie thinks.
Emma Lane’s forced to face her fears when her mother unceremoniously dumps her on the doorstep of Camp Mapplewood, abandoning her for the summer while she heads off on a cruise with her latest husband. It’s the last place Emma wants to be with no shortage of creepy creatures, keen campers, and mandatory activities that she fears will hinder managing her anxiety and depression. When Emma breaks into the tool shed on her first day there, the fall out from her escapades leads her right into the path of her counsellor Vivian Black, and nothing is ever the same.
This is the second book in the Magic in Manhattan seriesNew York, 1925
Psychometric Rory Brodigan’s life hasn’t been the same since the day he met Arthur Kenzie. Arthur’s continued quest to contain supernatural relics that pose a threat to the world has captured Rory’s imagination—and his heart. But Arthur’s upper-class upbringing still leaves Rory worried that he’ll never measure up, especially when Arthur’s aristocratic ex arrives in New York.
For Arthur, there’s only Rory. But keeping the man he’s fallen for safe is another matter altogether. When a group of ruthless paranormals throws the city into chaos, the two men’s strained relationship leaves Rory vulnerable to a monster from Arthur’s past.
With dark forces determined to tear them apart, Rory and Arthur will have to draw on every last bit of magic up their sleeves. And in the end, it’s the connection they’ve formed without magic that will be tested like never before.
Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.
When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.
Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?
Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight…right?
The team at King’s Row must face the school that defeated them in the fencing state championships last year, but first Nicholas and Seiji must learn to work together as a team…and maybe something more!
Just as Nicholas, Seiji and the fencing team at the prodigious Kings Row private school seem to be coming together, a deadly rival from their past stands in their way once more. MacRobertson is the school that knocked Kings Row out of the State Championships last year – but unless Nicholas and Seiji can learn to work together as a team, their school is doomed once again! And maybe those two can learn to be something more than teammates too…
For the first time, best-selling novelist C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince) and popular online sensation Johanna The Mad present the next all-new thrilling chapter in the story of Nicholas Cox’s entry into the world of competitive fencing where scoring points is the name of the game—but finding out who you really are is the only way to truly win!
In this bewitching first novel, a sensitive teen, newly arrived in Alabama, falls in love, questions his faith, and navigates a strange power. While his German parents don’t know what to make of a South pining for the past, shy Max thrives in the thick heat. Taken in by rowdy football players, he learns how to catch a spiraling ball, point a gun, and hide his innermost secrets. When Max meets fishnet-wearing Pan in physics class, they embark on an all-consuming relationship: Max tells Pan about his supernatural powers, and Pan tells Max about the snake poison initiations of a local church. The boys, however, aren’t sure what is more frightening—embracing their true selves, or masking their true selves. Evoking Dorothy Allison, Lambda Award finalist Genevieve Hudson offers a nuanced portrait of masculinity, immigration, and the adolescent pressures that require total conformity—in short, a twenty-first-century South that would have been unimaginable to the late Harper Lee.
My Maddy by Gayle E. Pitman and Anne Passchier (25th)
My Maddy has hazel eyes which are not brown or green. And my Maddy likes sporks because they are not quite a spoon or a fork.
Some of the best things in the world are not one thing or the other. They are something in between and entirely their own.
Randall Ehrbar, PsyD, offers an insightful note with more information about parents who are members of gender minority communities, including transgender, gender non-binary, or otherwise gender diverse people.
The first book to foreground the voices and experiences of autistic trans people, this collection of interviews explores questions of identity and gender from a neurodiverse perspective and examines how this impacts family, work, healthcare and religion.
Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.
This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.
But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?
Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. But when Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of.
In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris’s second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?
Told over the course of a funeral and shiva, and written with enormous wit and warmth, All My Mother’s Lovers is the exciting debut novel from fiction writer and book critic Ilana Masad. A unique meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties and grief, and a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity, All My Mother’s Lovers challenges us to question the nature of fulfilling relationships.
Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time—threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.
As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.
With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?
Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a “sun child” from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity. As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white. An academic scholarship to Harvard provided access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate through the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and her place within the gay community. She emerged as an artist and an activist questioning the boundaries of gender. Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man, and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved.
A follow-up to the critically acclaimed All Out anthology, Out Now features seventeen new short stories from amazing queer YA authors. Vampires crash prom, aliens run from the government, a president’s daughter comes into her own, a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer, a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. Teapots and barbershops, skateboards and VW vans, Street Fighter and Ares’s sword: Out Now has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page!
Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.
Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.
Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?
Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn’t want anyone he knows to discover them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it’s not safe for others to know. Now, the kids at school say he’s too different to spend time with. He’s not the “right kind” of girl, and he’s not the “right kind” of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he’s not ready to talk about yet.
But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.
Iris Turner hightailed it out of Salty Cove, Maine, without so much as a backward glance. Which is why finding herself back in her hometown—in her childhood bedroom, no less—has the normally upbeat Iris feeling a bit down and out. Her spirits get a much-needed lift, though, at the sight of the sexy girl next door.
No one knows why Jude Wicks is back in Salty Cove, and that’s just how she likes it. Jude never imagined she’d be once again living in her parents’ house, never mind hauling lobster like a local. But the solitude is just what she needs—until Iris tempts her to open up.
A no-strings summer fling seems like the perfect distraction for both women. Jude rides a motorcycle, kisses hard and gives Iris the perfect distraction from her tangled mess of a life. But come September, Iris is still determined to get out of this zero-stoplight town.
That is, unless Jude can give her a reason to stay…
Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.
Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.
Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…
Jake D’Arcy has spent most of his twenty-nine years trying to get his life just right. He’s nearly there: great girlfriend, great friends, stable job. A distant relationship with his boisterous family – which is exactly the way he wants it. So why does everything feel so wrong?
When his popular, irritatingly confident teenage brother Trick comes out as gay to a rapturous response, Jake realises he has questions about his own repressed bisexuality, and that he can’t wait any longer to find his answers.
As Trick begins to struggle with navigating the murky waters of adult relationships, Jake begins a journey that will destroy his relationship with girlfriend Amelia, challenge his closest friendships, and force him to face up to the distance between him and his family – but offers new friends, fewer inhibitions, and a glimpse of the magnificent life he never thought could be his.
There’s a New Queer Year upon us, and so much goodness within it can hardly be contained in a single post! Below are 72 (!) new US and UK YA titles releasing in the next six months, filled with representation across genres and genders, races and orientations.
If you’re looking for trends and landmarks, as I always do, you might notice the continued rise of queer (and especially Sapphic) YA fantasy, or the record-setting number of trans guy protags, or the first traditionally published bigender and demiboy MCs in YA. You might notice that a significant number of these books are set outside the US (yes, even the ones publishing there), and that you know some of these authors names quite well but have never seen them write queer YA before. You might notice that these covers are particularly phenomenal, so a huge shoutout to everyone responsible for them. (You can find info on a bunch of them here.)
(You also might notice that this post was a ton of work, so please do avail yourself of those affiliate links for Amazon and especially IndieBound and preorder yourself some goodness while also helping financially support the site!)
Moving on from her m/m fantasy series with a bang, Sim tackles a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristowith a literal vengeance, alternating between the points of view of Amaya, who’s been in servitude on a debtors’ ship for way too long, and Cayo, who’s in a similarly precarious though far more privileged situation, especially when someone he cares about is harmed. When she finds an opportunity for revenge and he falls into her crosshairs, sparks fly in all the ways, which is perhaps inconveniently timed for all the betrayal going on around them. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Relationship breakups may be heavily covered in YA, but friendship breakup stories are still few and far between. Enter the story of James and Kat, two girls who were once beyond close and now watch their friendship unravel as college nears. Things are complicated for both girls: James’s mother has left her and her father for another guy, and she doesn’t know how to talk about it, not even to Kat or her still-too-present ex, Logan. Kat’s discovering that her feelings for her new friend Quinn aren’t strictly “friendly,” and in fact, she’s realizing she’s bisexual and falling head over heels for a girl. It’s a bittersweet story to be sure, and while it definitely has its fun scenes, close moments, painful familial interactions, and tingly romance (what Spalding book doesn’t??), you’ll spend much of the book wishing you could push the characters together and say “Justtalkalready”…but isn’t that exactly how life goes? (Amz|B&N|IB)
If you’re a fan of queer YA, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re familiar with this particular pioneer of it, which will make this short story collection all the sweeter. Want to revisit “A” of the Every Day series? How about the characters of Two Boys Kissing? Or would you rather meet some new romantics entirely? Perhaps some non-fiction? Maybe even verse? This book inspired by Levithan’s tradition of his writing his friends a story each Valentine’s Day has got a little something for everybody, whether or not you’ll find a paper heart on your desk come February 14. (Amz|B&N|IB)
The author who brought you lesbians surviving a bloody apocalypse is back with a main character named Amelia who’s questioning a whole lot more than her sexuality (though there is that too); when she wakes up in the hospital in recovery from a fall, she doesn’t remember a thing…except that she was pushed, no matter how hard everyone else tries to deny it. The only person she can trust to help her find the truth is her new boyfriend, Liam, but maybe she doesn’t want the truth…or maybe trying to find it will be the last thing she ever does. (Amz|B&N|IB)
This newest McLemore title will make their fourth queer book in four years, and I think I can safely speak on behalf of the entire queer community when I say we are emphatically lucky for it. (And that there’s no sign of them letting up, either, with at least two more queer books slated for the next couple of years.) While McLemore generally writes with a sort of timelessness, this romantic and magical dual-timeline narrative is half set in 1518 Strasbourg, inspired by the dancing plague, where it stars a Romani cis girl in love with a trans boy, and half set in modern day, where centuries later, dancing fever threatens to return to Rosella Oliva, who happens to have the affectionate of attention of Emil, descendant of that same Romani family and the only one who might know how to help her. (Amz|B&N|IB)
That’s right, your contemporary (and so lightly speculative it’s basically contemporary) fave is diving headfirst into magical fantasy with his fifth book, and while it’s definitely a departure, there’s plenty you’ll recognize, including characters from the Bronx, diverse racial representation, and, of course, queer main characters. And yes, that’s an intentional plural! There are four points of view in this series opener: brothers Emil (who’s gay) and Brighton, who are obsessed with the powerful Spell Walkers and anxiously awaiting the discovery of whether or not they’ll be among them when their eighteenth birthday hits; Maribelle, who’s already a super well-known Spell Walker, and Ness, who’s…complicated. (And bisexual, as is Maribelle.) The Spell Walkers aren’t the only magical game in town, though, and having to watch their backs from the magic-siphoning Specters is getting both tiring and violent. When one of the twins’ (and only one’s) powers manifest during a fight, it rocks their world, especially when it turns out his powers are greater than anyone could’ve imagined, and it’s about to land them both in an all-out war. (Amz|B&N|IB)
If you dig SFF with a heavy dose of shenanigans, England is your author. Here they’re jumping from sci-fi over to fantasy but maintaining the zany, troublesome cast, led by Diz, who, together with her three best friends, make their cash the less-than-legal way by siphoning highly illegal maz, aka magic, which used to be free to all but has now gone the way of the drug trade. When they uncover an explosive new strain, it’s up to Diz and her gang to dig into the conspiracy behind it and save the world as they know it. Is there also a little time for kissing with one of those friends, nonbinary spellweaver Remi? There might be. Theeeeeere might be. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Finally, ’tis the year for trans guy main characters, and Canada’s kicking us off with this intense contemporary thriller about a grieving trans boy named Jason who’s out to prove his sister’s death was no accident. When a clue leads him to a boxing gym, Jason finds not just a mystery but a pastime he actually enjoys, especially given he’s got plenty of experience fighting. But balancing his (actually pretty wonderfully affirming) new friendships with his deadly quest might be more than he can handle. This is a hi-lo title, meaning it’s specifically designed for “high-interest, low-reading level” book lovers, and it definitely delivers when it comes to pacing, action, mystery, and representation. (Amz|B&N|IB)
This f/f YA horror set in 17th century Hungary recounts the story of a scullery maid working for Countess Elizabeth Báthory, which is just about the most awesome damn thing I’ve ever heard. (I am here for allll the horrifying and bloody Sapphic villains, to be clear.) But Anna doesn’t stay a scullery maid for long, because when Elizabeth takes a shine to her, she promotes her to chambermaid and keeps her, uh, pretty close. Close enough that Anna is drifting completely away from her old life to be absorbed into the countess’s, until she realizes she’s nothing more than a prisoner. And there’s nothing to keep a prisoner safe from becoming a serial killer’s next victim. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Fresh off one of my favorite YA fantasy duologies of all time, queer or otherwise (though it is most definitely queer), Miller is back with another magic-filled fantasy with a dual-POV, one of which belongs to a biromantic ace girl named Annette who comes from humble beginnings but gets a chance to shed them and pursue her love of the Midnight Arts when our other heroine, the aristocratic Emilie, begs her to do an identity swap so she can run off to become one of the few female students of medicine. (And might there be an attractive, charming, and intelligent trans guy at that school? There might.) As the land around them tilts toward revolution, both Emilie and Annette will have to figure out their places and how to work together to bring peace and justice. (Amz|B&N|IB)
This is a lovely and bighearted debut chock full of space nerdery, big dreams, new beginnings, and social media scandal. Cal’s life is completely uprooted when his dad shocks them all by being chosen for a space mission, something his family had never taken seriously as a lifelong dream. Worst of all, he’s forbidden from documenting life in the new compound, forcing him to leave his massive social media following behind. On the bright side, there’s Leon, son of another astronaut on the program and immediate thief of Cal’s heart. But when things go awry in the program and secrets are revealed, Cal will have to decide exactly what he’s willing to do to get the truth out there, and who he’s willing to lose. (Amz|B&N|IB)
The post-apocalyptic zombie-filled UK YA debut stars Peter, a resident of a community called Wranglestone that’s survived thus far by living in a national park surrounded by water that serves as a barrier to the Dead. But when winter comes and the water ices over, the water can no longer save them…and Peter puts them all in grave danger by bringing in a stranger. Now he’s been exiled, and all he can do is help Cooper, the rancher he’s been crushing on forever, herd the dead before the lake completely ices over. But as the two work together and fall for each other, they uncover a dark secret that’ll change everything. (The Book Depository)
Celia and Anna are “inklings,” Profeta devotees who use magic to tattoo flowers that represent the will of the Divine and steer the inked to action. Once upon a time they believed like everyone else that it was a noble calling, but now they know the truth: that their marks strip away free will and the temple is actually a prison. When they finally get a chance to escape, it seems like a bright future is ahead…until the very deity they sought to escape comes a-calling. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Janelle “Ellie” Baker is a Black demisexual girl living in a center in NYC controlled by the Ilori, aliens who invaded Earth two years earlier and who keep all humans in fear of death by punishing emotional transgressions by death. All manners of art are illegal, but Ellie flouts the rules with a secret library…a library from which a book disappears, putting her life on the line. In fact, lab-born M0Rr1S is sent to bring her to her death, but he has his own “moral failing”: he’s obsessed with human music. Together, they bond over their love of the forbidden arts and embark on a dangerous road trip, armed with books and music, toward a destination thousands of miles away that may be their only hope for salvation. (Amz|B&N|IB)
The Inn at Havenfall has protected refugees for generations, with one major rule: if you disrupt the peace, you are never to come back. Maddie loves it at the inn, where her uncle serves at innkeeper, as she will too someday; it’s an escape from her traumatic family, the place where she fell in love with soldier boy Brekken, and her future. But then the peace is completely shattered by a murder, and now her uncle is injured, Brekken is missing, and Maddie is in charge, which means she’s the one who has to learn the truth of what’s happened…together with Taya, a new staff member at the inn who’s both way too compelling and knows too much. (Amz|B&N|IB)
The Winner’s Curse happens to be my favorite YA fantasy series, so I am especially thrilled to see Rutkoski return with a new one that’s f/f! It stars Nirrim, who lives in a shady society with strict rules for all but those of high status; someone like Nirrim isn’t allowed to enjoy so much as a cupcake. Then she meets Sid, a charming traveler who encourages her to seek out the same magic the High Caste enjoys. It’ll mean giving up her old life, and on the suggestion of someone who probably can’t be trusted. But both the head and heart want what they want… (Amz|B&N|IB)
Greasegoes gay YA in this rom-com about two boys whose dreamy summer fling comes crashing into a harsh reality when our lead, Oliver, transfers to Will’s school thanks to a family crisis-driven move, only to find out Will isn’t Out and isn’t about to be. As Ollie finds his own ways to settle in, he can’t seem to shake Will’s presence. But whether there’s a future for them remains to be seen. This sophomore novel is warmly delightful and delightfully warm, with some tears on the side for the aforementioned family crisis, and some hard-earned queer solidarity is the icing on the cake. (Amz|B&N|IB)
2019 and 2020 are truly the years of the Sapphic YA witches, and we are here for every single one. Latimer’s debut utilizes ancient Celtic mythology in its story of Dayna, a girl with somatic OCD who’s just been outed as bi in her conservative Irish town and seen her long-lost mom return. But the only things she really wants to focus on is that she about to finally become a full witch, at least until another coven comes to town and gets in her way. Worst of all is the granddaughter of the coven’s leader, Meiner King, who’s charming, maddening, and Dayna’s only hope at helping her find a serial killer who’s returned to targeting witches. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Ekata lives in perpetual danger, but when her brother is named heir to the dukedom of Kylma Above, she’ll finally be able to leave her deadly family for good, even if it means leaving behind everything else she loves. Then her entire family falls under a mysterious sleeping sickness, and Ekata alone is left to be duke and to find a cure. At least it comes with one perk: she also gets her brother’s warrior bride, which will have to make up for the fact that the rest of her life is now filled with diplomacy, war, power, war, and magic she’s never wanted and will now have to learn to use to her advantage if she’s going to survive. (Amz|B&N|IB)
What do you do when you’re conquering the hell out of adult SFF? If you’re Gailey, who barely seems to need to breathe before authoring another critically acclaimed novel of awesomeness, you come to the place the real magic happens: YA! Their debut young adult novel brings together a group of magical girls who accidentally kill a boy on prom night and have to work together to fix it. Unfortunately, it’s not going so well, and it makes things a little more complicated each time they fail, which sucks since things were already a little complicated what with Alexis being in love with her best friend and all. Yikes all around? Yikes all around. (Amz|B&N|IB)
This bi YA may not be new to the UK, but it’s newly jumping over the pond to the US this year, and I am very grateful for that! It stars sixteen-year-old Vetty, who’s kept things pretty close to the vest since her mom died and her family relocated. But now, four years later, they’re moving back to their old neighborhood, and that means Vetty just might start to get her life back. Item one on the agenda? Reconnecting with Pez, her childhood best friend. But Pez has changed a lot in the last four years, and it isn’t easy to find who he was beneath who he’s become. It is, unfortunately, easy to fall for March, who happens to be Pez’s girlfriend. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Speaking of UK YA by authors who’ve crossed into the US (though not with this title yet, so hint hint, American publishers!), Steven’s first queer YA is a bi rom-com about a physics genius named Caro who’s crushing it at school but not so much at romance. Then she figures out how to use her academic skills to help her love life, and finds herself in a new sort of mess: juggling her new relationship with her longtime crush (and whether or not the feelings are real) with the fact that she’s suddenly into her female best friend. How much is the experiment and how much is her heart? Can’t wait to find out! (The Book Depository)
Claire is a superhero fangirl, a card-carrying member of Warrior Nation. And when she finds an unexpected way (with some unexpected help) into winning an internship with the Chicago WarNat branch, it should be everything she’s ever dreamed of. But that unexpected help is proving very difficult to work with; it’s in the form of Girl Power (aka Joy), the newest hero and a pain in Claire’s butt. A very, very cute pain in Claire’s butt. But distraction or no distraction, Claire’s determined to prove herself, especially when she and Bridgette, a WarNat, who’s tired of being “the girlfriend” to an even more famous hero, decides to mentor her and they end up having to be exactly the heroes Chicago needs. (Amz|B&N|IB)
The cover of Sproul’s historical (Yep, 1999 counts as that now) debut may be dreamy, but having a crush on your best friend? Is kind of a nightmare. Such is the situation for Taylor, who’s queen of her high school both literally and figuratively, but isn’t interested in settling for a cozy life of 2.5 kids and a dental hygienist job with a homecoming king. The time has come for Taylor to move the hell on from her school, her town, her boyfriend, and Susan…but how? (Amz| B&N|IB)
Lulu may be a bit of a social media celebrity, but That Video wasn’t meant for public consumption, and it certainly wasn’t meant for her boyfriend to see. But anyway, it’s all happened and then suddenly there’s Cass, a girl who doesn’t care about Lulu’s online fame, or about online fame at all. She only cares about getting to know Lulu at The Hotel, and Old Hollywood-style spot that’s become Lulu’s dream getaway from it all. But can she really get out of the spotlight, or is she doomed to become a social media cautionary tale? What will it take for Lulu to get her own life back? (Amz|B&N|IB)
One of my favorite things about how much queer YA we get these years is that we’re finally allowed to have the messy stuff, the representation that isn’t the neatest and most pristine and clear cut and dare I say the whitest? In no 2020 YA that I’ve read is this more evident than in Kanakia’s sophomore, about a boy named Nandan who surprises everyone, including himself, by hooking up with new boy Dave. But what starts with him being pretty chill about this development starts to increase his anxiety about what it means that he’s now with a guy. Is he bisexual? Is he in it to be more interesting? Is he always going to be “different” now, even more than before? So many questions and no great answers, but exploring the complexity of it all is the beauty of this book. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Talley is one of queer YA’s most prolific genre jumpers, but she seems to be making herself beautifully at home in historical with this follow-up to 2018’s Pulp, again set amid a context of vital queer American history. This time around, it’s 1977, and Tammy Larson would love more than anything to come out of the closet as a lesbian, but that’s a major no-go where she lives. Her only outlet is to write “letters” to the activist Harvey Milk, at least until she’s matched with a pen pal to whom she can write letters for real. Sharon makes for a much better companion than Tammy’s diary, and she can sympathize, given her brother is gay and feeling all the same misery in the wake of Anita Bryant’s leading to a successful repeal of their protections. Together they’ll find their own brand of activism and learn to fight back against a world of hate. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Oseman’s crossed the pond before with Radio Silence, so this American’s fingers are crossed she’ll do it again with her newest, about a girl named Georgia who’s struggling with the fact that she’s eighteen and has never had so much as a crush. She’s sick of people thinking she’s broken or weird, and it isn’t like she isn’t into romance; she’s just not into it for herself. When she gets to university, she thinks maybe she can “fix” things with her roommate’s help. But what if it turns out there’s nothing to fix, and Georgia’s great and perfectly capable of happiness just as she is? (The Book Depository)
This f/f standalone fantasy stars Lia, a teenage queen, and Xania, the spymaster she brings in who, unbeknownst to her, actually agrees to the job as part of a plot to avenge her father and figure out who killed him. It’s a tricky situation full of secrets, treason, betrayal, and, oh yes, romance. At present it’s publishing strictly in Ireland, but thankfully, we have ways of getting our hands on it anyway because seriously, who could pass up an f/f queen/spymaster romance?? Not I, said the person who preordered this book while writing this blurb! Not I. (The Book Depository)
You know we’ve gotta sound the airhorn whenever a First for traditionally published queer lit is involved, so step up and take note of its first on-page bigender main character! That character is Aleks/Alexis, who gets a fresh start by moving in with their uncle, who happens to be a priest. But their new home provides something they definitely didn’t anticipate: an earful of confessionals, which inspires them to want to help these “sinners.” But all the enjoyment of finding a goodwill mission crumbles when they overhear a confession that rocks them to their bones and brings back the very trauma they’re escaping, trauma they’ll have no choice but to face now. (Want a sneak peek? Click here for the entire first chapter!) (Amz|B&N|IB|Lerner)
Breaking up is hard to do, but breaking up with your best friend is even harder, and when your school’s got slim pickins in terms of out queer kids? Well. Let’s just say Quinn is not taking it all that great, especially when she suspects Jamie might be recovering much faster than she is. But when sexy, heretofore-thought-unattainable Ruby Ocampo suddenly comes back on the market and turns out to be bi, it looks like Quinn might just get her second chance at happiness. But what if that second chance is happening with the wrong person? This YA debut is sweet, funny, and heartbreaking in all the right places. (Amz|B&N|IB)
When this was originally published in the UK in early 2019, it sounded so good I begged to know when it was coming over. Turns out I got both my answer and my confirmation that yes, this is an A+ queer thriller. It stars a girl named Sydney who’s not just grieving the death of her dad, but investigating it; it seems impossible he just went off the road like that, and the creepy texts she’s been getting since his funeral seem to confirm that. Another mystery? Why June, the most popular girl in school, with the most perfect relationship, seems to be one of her dad’s top mourners. That’s a mystery more easily solved when she reveals she was one of Sydney’s dads psychological patients, but why she’s still hanging around Sydney? That’s another story. (B&N|IB)
Think The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco meets The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis plus a little John Steinbeck (yeah, I said what I said) and you’ll have something like this fantasy about an experimental town in mid-20th-century Oklahoma led by a witch and created at the whim of the goddesses. Our (seemingly unwitting?) Sapphic, Sal, has been the town outcast ever since she predicted a rain that never came, but she’s making up for it now that she’s been chosen at the successor to Mother Morevna, the witch who runs the entirety of Elysium and makes all its rules. Of course, the job isn’t all what she imagined, and the arrival of Asa, a demon disguised as a human who has his own wild powers, just makes things even more confusing. When Sal and Asa screw up and find themselves exiled into the Desert, they’ll have to join up with a girl gang led by a fellow exile and do whatever they can to halt the inevitable apocalypse. (Amz|B&N|IB)
To traditional publishing, Quindlen is a debut, but those of us who’ve been following queer-girl YA for a while know she’s behind one of its biggest indie titles, the Catholic Louisiana-set best friends-to-lovers romanceHer Name in the Sky. Whether you knew her before or not, though, you’re definitely gonna wanna get on board for this deeply felt and highly relatable one about a girl trying to find her way forward out of late-bloomerdom and into happiness. Codi’s never been kissed, which doesn’t put hertoofar behind her best friends Maritza and JaKory, but far enough that despite all of them being late bloomers, she’s the one they both seem to agree is hopeless. So when she stumbles into a new social circle, one in which she’s valued and no one knows her as a dork, she decides to keep it all for herself, even if it means not telling her best friends she’s falling in love. But Codi doesn’twantto abandon them, so what’s she supposed to now that she’s been lying for weeks? Is there a way to have everything she wants with just the right amount of who she used to be? (Amz|B&N|IB)
Dugan debuted with one of my absolute favorite queer YA rom-coms (seriously, if you haven’t yet read Hot Dog Girl, do yourself a favor), so I’m thrilled to see her returning with another one, this one an m/f pairing where both halves of the couple are bi (or, more accurately, one is bi and one is still figuring it out). Juliette is an elite cellist with a major audition coming up and a side job working at her stepmom’s indie comic shop. Ridley works at his parents’ comic shop too, only theirs is a big chain, and no friend to the little guy. Which makes it a little difficult when the two meet at a comic-con prom and immediately hit it off, despite their family feud. I’ll take Romeo & Juliet with a much happier ending and heaps of bisexuality any day, wouldn’t you? (Amz|B&N |IB)
The one non-fiction entry on this list is a memoir-manifesto by noted queer Black activist and journalist George M. Johnson, about his life from childhood through college in New Jersey and Virginia, including bullying, sexual relationships, and other ups and downs. Intended to serve as “a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color,” clearly this is a book that is not to be missed. (Amz|B&N|IB)
One of the things I’m often asked to recommend is books that feature mlm and wlw solidarity, and I especially love giving answers that show it not just in characters but in authorship. Here, two Canadian rock stars of queer YA come together with a story about cousins named Mark and Talia who are reunited from their respective Canadian coasts after a death in the family and decide to take a road trip together to Toronto so Talia can see her non-binary partner and Mark can get to Pride. The two don’t have much in common, and they’ll have to let Mark’s little sister tag along, but they both know some kind of magic awaits them in TO, and they can’t wait to get there. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Whether you’re a fan of queer pirate novels, queer witch novels, or just dreamy, adventurous romance, this just might be the book of your dreams. Flora knows the only way to get by on the pirate ship she calls home is to be the merciless Florian to everybody else, but when she’s charged with guarding a beautiful passenger on a voyage that will see all its ticket holders turned into hostages, she hits her limit. There’s no way she can destroy Evelyn’s life like this, which means the two have no choice but to escape and find a notorious witch who might be able to help them. But the witch has plots of her own, and no one is safe in this tremendous journey of the unexpected. This is one of the most breathlessly romantic and adventurous queer fantasies I’ve ever read, and also one of the best explorations of gender fluidity I’ve read in YA. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Klune’s doing double duty this year (or maybe even more? Damn, it’s hard to keep up), following up an adult contemporary fantasy with his first entry into YA, about a boy named Nick who happens to be the Extraordinaries fandom’s most popular fanfic writer, and who aims to be even more extraordinary when he meets the hero he’s been crushing on. (But maybe he’s in love with his best friend, Seth? It’s complicated. It’s always complicated.) (Amz|B&N|IB)
I swear Kat Dunn must’ve been reading my dream journal to come up with an f/f fantasy set during the French Revolution. It stars Camille, the daughter of a revolutionary who’s a rebel in her own right, leading a group of misfits under the banner of the Battalion des Morte. But when they save a girl who isn’t the aristocrat-in-hiding she seemed to be, they all have questions: what is up with her dangerous powers and why are people on both sides of the revolution hunting her? (The Book Depository)
Allen’s been a personal favorite of mine since her subversive feminist debut, 17 First Kisses, and I’m thrilled to see her releasing her first queer YA, which basically looks like a gay Traveling Pants except not all the girls actually wanna be spending the summer together at the lake house where their moms became besties. Most of them can’t even stand their moms right now. All of them have secrets. And two of them…well, two of them are in love with each other, so one way or another it’s gonna be a hell of a summer. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Callender is having a monster of a publication year, having released both an adult fantasy (Queen of the Conquered) and a queer Middle Grade contemporary (King and the Dragonflies) in the last six months. Now they’re capping it off with this extraordinary trans YA about a boy (usually, which is another part of the story, and one that I will happily spoil results in trad-pubbed YA having it’s first on-page demiboy) named Felix who’s hell-bent on getting revenge against a transphobe at school, only to find the person he assumed was the culprit might actually be the exact person he needed in his life. (Amz|B&N|IB)
You may have already heard me talking about this sophomore novel by the author of Girls Made of Snow and Glass as maybe my new favorite f/f YA fantasy, and if not, lemme tell you right now, if you haven’t heard me say it before, you’re gonna wanna hear it now: do not miss this Persian mythology-inspired book. It stars a girl named Soraya who’s been cursed from birth to poison anyone she touches, and who finally emerges into the public on the day of her brother’s wedding, setting off a chain of events that have her finding love, acceptance, and power in the most unexpected of places. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Eliopulos has brought you some of your queer faves as an editor, but thrillingly, this is his first time bringing the rainbow goodness on the author side of the desk. Sam and his best friends, James and Delia, live in a small Georgia town where magic is frowned upon, but their school provides a respite in the form of a magic club. Then Sam realizes he might be in love with James, Delia’s getting tired of the club, and James has accidentally screwed them all over by getting involved with some shady magickers over the summer. So much for a great senior year… (Amz|B&N|IB)
It’s New Year’s Eve, 1929 at the Cloak & Dagger in the French Quarter, and Millie’s serving as the speakeasy’s MC while her best friend, Marion, aka “The Boy in the Red Dress,” stars in the show. Then a fancy stranger sashays in with a mouth full of questions a photo of a boy who happens to look just like Marion. When she’s found dead in the back alley, Marion becomes the prime suspect, which Millie will not let stand. While she pursues proof that her best friend is innocent, she’s also got two other attractive distractions: waitress Olive and bootlegger Bennie, the latter of whom promises to help her on her quest. Can she find who’s framing Marion before time runs out for them both? (Amz|B&N|IB)
Sideways is a misfit lesbian witch, which sounds awesome to you and me but less so to the West High social food chain. At least until three of its most popular girls pay her cash to cast a spell at their Halloween party, luring her into their clique and forming a coven. She never expected to become best friends with these girls, but they’ll all have to learn to count on each other if they’re going to save themselves from fundamentalist witch hunters! (And yes, this is the first in a trilogy!) (Amz|B&N|IB)
Okay, so get this: Enemies-to-lovers. With rival henna businesses. Set in Ireland. And both protags are WoC. (I KNOW.) Our heroine, Nishat, is a Bengali lesbian who’s maybe not quite as artistically talented as our love interest, the gifted and new-to-school Afro-Brazilian Flávia, with whom Nishat reunites at a Desi wedding after going to school together as kids. The girls have instant chemistry, but they also have a pretty instant problem, as Flávia not only creates a competing henna business for their class project, but sees no problem with having appropriated a cultural custom of Nishat’s to do it. (Not to mention that her partner is the school’s most notorious racist.) So now Nishat’s gotta contend with Feelings she really doesn’t wanna have, competition with a business that shouldn’t even exist, the fact that her coming out to her family didn’t go so well…but wait, there’s more! Is there possibly a happily ever after to be found amid all the drama? (Amz|B&N|IB)
If this book looks like the cutest, fluffiest, most make-you-melt kind of romance, it’s because it is…at least in the little romantic bubble that ensued when when Kai took advantage of a dare that requires Bryson Keller to agree to date the first person to ask him out every Monday morning for that week. But outside the bubble, the world is still wondering who Bryson Keller’s mystery girlfriend is, the one person not to shout from the rooftops that she’s got the guy. And Kai isn’t gonna be the one to tell them it isn’t a girl at all; his spontaneous request made Bryson the first and only person he’s ever come out to. But when both the answer and Kai himself are forcibly outed, he and the boy he’s come to fall for, the boy who’s only just realized he himself is gay, will have to band together and put their relationship through the ultimate test. (Amz|B&N|IB)
This post-apocalyptic debut set in the aftermath of a modern-day plague has trans, intersex, bisexual seventeen-year-old Pip taking fellow survivor twelve-year-old Iris under her wing. Together, the two are forced to flee Spokane to avoid slave traders, gangs, and all manners of violence, but they do find a third member of their new found family in a brave older girl named Fly. Now they must all work together to survive in their terrifying new reality. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Fresh out of UK YA’s 2019 lineup, this coming-of-age novel-in verse tells the story of a mixed-race (half Jamaican, half Greek Cypriot) gay kid named Michael who’s struggling to balance his identities and being different from other kids while growing up in London. It isn’t until he heads off to university that he finally finds his identity and style as a drag artist named The Black Flamingo. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Rosen already has one of my favorite queer YAs of all time with Jack of Hearts, but he managed to deliver another one packed with heart and important conversations in this wonderful love letter to queer spaces. When Randy returns to Camp Outland as Del in the hopes of finally landing The Guy (who happens to be an athlete, and who would never be caught dead with nail polish on his fingers), he’s convinced that if he can just land Hudson, the object of his long-time affection will fall in love with not just who he’s pretending to be that summer, but who he really is. It…goes about as well as you’d expect! But it also sets up an important exploration of masc4masc culture and what it means to change yourself for someone else. (Amz|B&N|IB)
The subtitle of this follow up to theAll Outanthology is “Queer We Go Again,” and if that’s not the best thing you’ve ever heard than we are very different people. This time around, the collection is going contemporary, with voices like Julian Winters (How to Be Remy Cameron), Katherine Locke (The Spy With the Red Balloon), CB Lee (Not Your Sidekick), Candice Montgomery (By Any Means Necessary), Caleb Roehrig (Death Prefers Blondes), Mark Oshiro (Anger is a Gift), and more taking a variety of genres set in the here and now and with one major thing in common: every main character is queer and/or trans. (Amz|B&N|IB)
This coming-of-age debut stars a trans boy named Pony who’s keeping his transness under wraps in his new school, exhausted with how much attention it garnered at his old one. Still, it’s hard not to stay on his guard, especially when he meets Georgia, a gorgeous cheerleader who’s ready to put her “keep a low profile” plans on hold when sparks fly with the new boy. The chemistry between them is utterly adorable, and Pony knows he can’t enter a physical relationship without telling her. He’ll have to decide whether she’s worth the risk, and whether his heart can take it if she isn’t. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Mashing romance with the unexpected is kinda Dietrich’s thing, for those who haven’t read The Love Interest, and here it’s romance and thriller that are going head to head. What happens when the son of a mobster and the son of a police commissioner realize they’ve got a thing for each other? Probably nothing neat and easy, but that’s the problem facing Matt and Jason, even if they don’t know it yet. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Sign me the hell up for literally every enemies-to-lovers f/f rom-com, but especially this one, where the girls who hate each other at Alabama’s Conservatory for the Arts have no idea they’re falling for each other online as they collaborate on a graphic novel for a fanfic site under their online identities. That’s…everything I love in book? Yep, pretty much! (Amz|B&N|IB)
Ami’s been living in seclusion her whole life at Heavenly Shepherd, her family’s survival compound. And it’s been fine, and even lucky, or so she thought. But then her grandfather arranges a marriage for her, and Ami realizes she’s not ready to live out her “destiny” to procreate, even if she’s one of the last few at the compound who can. And so she escapes on a search for her long-lost mother, and meets people her age for the very first time, including a girl she hadn’t even known she was capable of wanting. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Dylan and Ellis’s relationship is a secret, or at least it was until it was exposed online. Now Dylan’s been forced out, but is pleased to find the reception to his news is surprisingly positive. Wasn’t it? Because something has to explain why Ellis’s personality has suddenly changed, and why he lost control of the car. Something has to explain why Dylan lost Ellis to the lake that night. And as he mourns the loss of the boy he loved, Dylan is determined to figure out what it was, no matter how much it hurts. (The Book Depository)
Sapphic witches meets enemies-to-lovers in this bi f/f YA fairy tale about a girl named Lina who gives herself up to the queen in order to save the boy she loves from Caldella’s annual custom of sacrificing a boy to the full moon to save the city from the deadly tide. Queen Eva gladly accepts Lina’s sacrifice; as long as someone dies and the city is saved, that’s all that matters. Until they spend time together waiting for the full moon to come. Until Lina and Eva start to fall for each other. Until the streets begin to fill with water. Until a choice must be made whether to save themselves or their city. (Amz|IB)
Sage and Charlie are that non-couple, the one everyone things are destined for love, if only they’d figure it out. But Charlie isn’t the Carmichael twin Sage is into (that’d be his brother, Nick), and Charlie’s more interested in new boy Luke, something he isn’t comfortable with anybody knowing. As Charlie worries his secret relationship will get out and Sage stresses about things with Nick moving too fast, the two will have to find solace in each other and their friendship to make things work with their respective boyfriends. (Amz|B&N|IB)
When an earthquake quite literally rocks Sasha’s world, it leaves her effectively orphaned and living with her estranged grandparents, who have a vision of exactly how to turn Sasha into the perfect girl. But Sasha isn’t interested in their plans, including a relationship with the boy of their choosing; all she can do is try to make it work and find solace in the time she spends with Lily, a new friend who gives Sasha a serious case of Feelings. Being with Lily is definitely not The Right Path, but can Sasha put herself first even if it means upsetting the last family she has left? (Amz|B&N|IB)
Attending Pennington College and becoming a doctor has always been Liz’s plan for getting out of her small town, but when her financial aid falls through, the one thing she wanted most now looks impossible. Of course, there’s one shot at winning a scholarship, but that would mean winning becoming prom queen, and there’s no way she can deal with all the crap that involves, is there? With her eyes on the prize, Liz shoves her fear of the spotlight, trolls, and all the rest to the side, determined to one thing crown, and soon, there’s only one thing in the way: the fact that she’s falling for her competition. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Queer YA that discusses HIV are few and far between, but the slow climb has been one of the best trends of the past couple of years. Adding to that conversation in a big way is this Brazilian import set in Rio, and revolving around three boys: Ian, who was recently diagnosed positive; Victor, who was recently diagnosed negative, and Henrique, who’s been living with HIV for three years. Victor and Henrique are boyfriends, but Victor is seriously pissed to have learned of Henrique’s positive status only after they had sex. But when he meets Ian while they’re both getting tested and Ian’s test comes back positive, he knows Henrique’s guidance is too invaluable not to connect him with Ian, even if it means staying in his life. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Kisner is three for three in putting gloriously queer YA on shelves, and I am in love with the idea of this newest, which takes the famous “Twelve Angry Men” and situates it in Mock Trial with an ace lead. Raina’s killing it at life, until suddenly she isn’t. Millie’s in a similar spot, having just been ousted from the all-male Mock Trial team. When the two pair up to start a rival girls’ team, it isn’t just their opponents they’re gunning for—it’s the whole motherfluffin’ patriarchy. (Amz|B&N|IB)
‘Tis the year for political YAs, for obvious reasons, and this contemporary romance also does double duty of being a touching demisexual coming out story that happens to take place across the aisle. (The political aisle, that is.) When Dean, the son the of the Republican candidate, and Dre, son of the Democratic candidate, find themselves locked in close quarters, they’re surprised to find that they quite enjoy the company of someone else who knows what it’s like to be in the junior spotlight. Soon, romance sparks, which is a bit of problem considering the whole “opponents” thing, not to mention Dean still trying to figure out how to deal with and discuss the fact that he’s demisexual. But someone out there seems determined to make their problem much, much bigger, and they’ll have to figure out who wants their relationship outed, how they can make it work, and how they can reconcile a future. (Amz|B&N|IB)
Alex Sanchez is the author of the first gay YA I ever read, so it’s very cool to see him and Blue is the Warmest Color illustrator Julie Maroh picking up the pens for DC’s Aqualad. Set in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, our hero Jake is decidedly not a swimmer, but he still loves the ocean and dreams of going to college on the coast. And so he secretly applies to Miami University, against the wishes of both his mother and his best friend. Hell, he’s already living dangerously just by having a crush on the rebellious swim team captain, Kenny. And there’s also the small matter of the blue marks on his skin that light up when they touch water…what’s the deal with those, anyway? (Amz|B&N|IB)
Love books that make you laugh, swoon, and cry? Then you are going to fall head over heels for Smyth’s debut, an Ireland-set romantic contemporary about a girl named Saiorse who’s losing her mother to early-onset dementia and is determined never to get involved with anyone as a result…until she meets Ruby, and all bets are off. The girls agree to a no-strings-attached summer of just the good parts of romance, the movie montage where the couple does all sorts of fun things as they fall in love. But when the end of the summer comes, will they be able to let go? (Amz|B&N|IB)
Yadriel’s family isn’t buying that he’s a boy, leaving him just one choice: prove that he’s a real brujo by finding and freeing the ghost of his murdered cousin. The only problem is that whoops, he’s accidentally summoned Julian Diaz, school bad boy, instead, and Julian isn’t having it, not without solving the mystery behind his death first, even if it means dragging Yadriel along as an unwilling participant. But the more time the boys spend together, the less, uh, “unwilling” their hanging out gets to be in this paranormal trans Latinx debut that promises to have your heart flip-flopping all over the damn place. (Also, let the record show that Thomas has another book releasing next year, and though it isn’t queer, that’s still pretty badass.) (Amz|B&N|IB)
Duet Books, the all-queer publisher responsible for Summer Love, among many other wonderful queer titles, is back with another short collection, this one populated by Julia Ember (The Seafarer’s Kiss), Jude Sierra (Idlewild), Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick (Snowsisters), and Kate Fierro (Love Starved). For more info on the book and the stories within it, click here. (Amz|IB|Book Depository)
In this queer retelling of Snow White and Rose Red, Ivory and Rosie have been on the road for years with their mother’s circus, and finally, they’re returning to Port End. But it’s a different Port End from what they remember, filled with preachers and fundamentalists and portents of doom. Still, they prepare a dazzling homecoming show, but when Rosie’s tightrope act goes wrong, Ivory and the magician she loves will have to find an evil priest and save their family. (Amz|B&N|IB)
This YA sci-fi Dystopian stars Nate, a genetically engineered medical surrogate (GEM) who was created to be a cure for the elite of Gathos City to help with the rapidly traveling fatal lung rot and was smuggled out of the lab as a child and kept prisoner in the lawless region of the Withers. There, he becomes a Tinker, fixing broken technology for room and board, and he meets and falls for the sweet Reed, who comes with a gang of misfits that feels like the first group Nate could ever call family. But as a GEM, Nate is reliant on a medication controlled by the city in order to stop from aging, and violence in the Withers cuts off his supply and harms Reed. Now Nate has to make a choice, whether he’s going to join a terrorist group to get the meds he needs to stay alive, or remain in the Withers with Reed and watch their lives ebb into nothing. (Amz|B&N|IB)
2020 is seriously Lee’s year, debuting with an MG series (yes, series—you can already preorder three of them) and with this bi K-pop that’s got one of my favorite covers ever and also happens to have a sequel in the works. Skye Shin knows no one thinks she or any other fat girl has any business on stage, but she doesn’t care what they say; she cares about becoming a K-Pop star. When a successful audition allows her to do just that, it’s a dream come true, even as trolls and fatphobes do their best to turn it into a nightmare. And then there’s Henry, who’s supposed to be Skye’s competitor, so why does she want nothing more than to, uh, make beautiful music with him? (Amz|B&N|IB)
Queer thrillers are having a fabulous day in the sun, and if you’re as big a fan of the genre as I am, then check out this one starring a bi girl named Flora who’s haunted by having found a classmate’s body years earlier and has all that pain brought to the forefront when a text from her old flame, Ava, has her showing up just in time to see her die. Now Flora’s on a determined mission to find not only who shot Ava, but who’s responsible for the deaths of all the girls whose killers have never been found and brought to justice. But she doesn’t expect the massive conspiracy she uncovers, and threats from the killer aren’t helping. If she gives up the hunt, she’ll never get justice. But if she doesn’t, she might not live to see another day. (Amz|B&N|IB)
But wait, there’s more! Stay tuned for a separate post on upcoming queer sequels! And until then, tell me: what YA are you dying to read in 2020?
In a nuclear arms race, you’d use anything for an edge. Even magic.
Ilse and Wolf Klein bear many secrets. Genius Ilse is unsure if her parents will ever accept her love of physics. Her brother Wolf strives for a quiet life, though he worries that there’s no place in the world for people like him. But their deepest secret lies within their blood: with it, they can work magic.
Blackmailed into service during World War II, Ilse lends her magic to America’s newest weapon, the atom bomb, while Wolf goes behind enemy lines to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program. It’s a dangerous mission, but if Hitler were to create the bomb first, the results would be catastrophic.
When Wolf’s plane is shot down, his entire mission is thrown into jeopardy. Wolf needs Ilse’s help to develop the magic that will keep him alive, but with a spy afoot in Ilse’s laboratory, the secret letters she sends to Wolf begin to look treasonous. Can Ilse prove her loyalty—and find a way to help her brother—before their time runs out?
Loyalties and identities will be tested in this sweeping fantasy and a fast-paced thriller that bravely explores the tensions at the dawn of the nuclear age.
Felicity Montague is through with pretending she prefers society parties to books about bone setting—or that she’s not smarter than most people she knows, or that she cares about anything more than her dream of becoming a doctor.
A year after an accidentally whirlwind tour of Europe, which she spent evading highwaymen and pirates with her brother Monty, Felicity has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of Callum Doyle, a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh; and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.
But then a small window of hope opens. Doctor Alexander Platt, an eccentric physician that Felicity idolizes, is looking for research assistants, and Felicity is sure that someone as forward thinking as her hero would be willing to take her on. However, Platt is in Germany, preparing to wed Felicity’s estranged childhood friend Johanna. Not only is Felicity reluctant to opening old wounds, she also has no money to make the trip.
Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that will lead her from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.
Plunged into a crumbling world of foreign politics that is desperate for a leader, Eros chooses a loyal prince to help him navigate the hostile sands of Safara. But not everyone is happy to see a half-blood become the most powerful person on the planet. A queen must restore her nation.
In power once more, Kora faces new challenges and a difficult decision that puts someone close to her in mortal danger. The wrong choice could destroy her relationships, her right to rule, and her life.
A rebellion is brewing.
With their world collapsing around them, new threats spreading across the globe, and their loved ones at risk, the people of Safara―Sepharon and human alike―depend on Eros and Kora to fix their bleeding world. But with generations of hate stacked against them, the two young monarchs may be doomed to fail.
An epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author 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.
An inventive world, a breathtaking love story, and stunning art come together in this new work by award-winning artist Tillie Walden.
Inspired by real historical evidence that Abraham Lincoln was in love—romantic love—with another man, this debut YA novel was too controversial for traditional publishing. Crowdfunded in six days with a successful Kickstarter campaign that ultimately 182 backers supported, QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL asks LGBTQ teens (and everyone else), What if you knew a secret from history that could change the world?
Wyatt is 15, and nobody in his homophobic small town of Lincolnville, Oregon, knows that he’s Gay. Not even his best friend (and accidental girlfriend) Mackenzie. Then he discovers a secret from actual history: Abraham Lincoln was in love with another guy! Since everyone loves Lincoln, Wyatt’s sure that if the world knew about it, they would treat Gay people differently and it would solve everything about his life. So Wyatt outs Lincoln online, triggering a media firestorm that threatens to destroy everything he cares about—and he has to pretend more than ever that he’s straight. . . . Only then he meets Martin, who is openly Gay and who just might be the guy Wyatt’s been hoping to find.
In this heartwarming picture book, a big sister realizes that her little sister, Jackie, doesn’t like dresses or fairies-she likes ties and bugs! Will she be able to accept that Jackie identifies more as “Jack”?
Susan thinks her little sister Jackie has the best giggle! She can’t wait for Jackie to get older so they can do all sorts of things like play forest fairies and be explorers together. But as Jackie grows, she doesn’t want to play those games. She wants to play with mud and be a super bug! Jackie also doesn’t like dresses or her long hair, and she would rather be called Jack.
Readers will love this sweet story about change and acceptance.
Alan Cole is not a coward. Not since he stood up to his brother. Not since he let his friends Zack and Madison into his world. And deﬁnitely not since he came out at his school.
But Alan’s got a new host of problems to face. His biggest one: Ron McCaughlin. Ever since Alan revealed he’s gay, Ron has been bullying Alan with relentless fury. Yet Alan can’t tell his parents why he’s really coming home with bruises — because they still don’t know the truth. And now Alan’s father wants him to take June Harrison to the upcoming Winter Dance. Never mind that he has two left feet, does not like girls, and might be developing feelings for a new boy at school.
Between trying to understand the complex art of text ﬂirting, learning how to subdue his bullies, and ﬁnding his identity beyond the labels people put on him, Alan has a lot to sort through — and lay out — on the dance ﬂoor.
In this follow-up novel to Alan Cole Is Not A Coward, Eric Bell returns to the Unstable Table with Alan and his friends as they tackle middle school in another poignant and laugh-out-loud tale about friendship, family, and the many meanings of bravery.
Since she was a child, the divine empress O Shizuka has believed she was an untouchable god. When her uncle, ruler of the Hokkaran Empire, sends her on a suicide mission as a leader of the Imperial Army, the horrors of war cause her to question everything she knows.
Thousands of miles away, the exiled and cursed warrior Barsalyya Shefali undergoes trials the most superstitious would not believe in order to return to Hokkaran court and claim her rightful place next to O Shizuka.
As the distance between disgraced empress and blighted warrior narrows, a familiar demonic force grows closer to the heart of the empire. Will the two fallen warriors be able to protect their home?
The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.
The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.
But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.
Courtney “Coop” Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn’t mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.
Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed “new girl” would be synonymous with “pariah,” but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . . .
When James’s boyfriend killed himself, no one questioned what happened. A foster kid with a checkered past and a history of suicide attempts, Ash was just another number in a system that failed him. But to James, Ash was never just a number, and the facts around his death no longer stack up so neatly.
Now James has plenty of questions, and the one person who might have held the answers—Ash’s older brother, Elliot—has left town. And if anyone knows where he is, they aren’t talking. As James searches for Elliot and uncovers the tangle of lies and false alibis he left in his wake, he grows suspicious of what really happened on Ash’s last day.
In the aftermath of her mother’s death, Angela struggles to recover and re-enter the world. When she meets Steve, who works in the café across the street, she feels able to take a step out of her grief-filled home. With Steve, she hopes to do D/s as a way to take a break from the pain consuming her, but discovers that in doing kink, you bring all of who you are with you, including grief.
Then Steve’s best friend is in a tragic car accident, and winds up in a coma, and Angela longs to offer support to Steve, as well as receive it.
In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.
In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.
When Ren wakes from his life-threatening injury on the Star Stream, he learns that Asher has left with the Phoenix Corps and that the Corps believes Ren to be dead. Despite the opportunity to disappear, Ren is determined to fix his mistakes. He convinces the crew to join him for one last mission—find Asher, free Liam, and escape from the Corps’ reach. But a war is brewing between two formidable armies, and, despite his wish to flee, Ren is drawn into the conflict. With his friends by his side, Ren must make a choice, and it will affect the future of his found family and the cluster forever.
The deepest of them make up intricately interconnected stories. Damaged survivors finding each other, stitching their lives together in the harshest of places, forging precious bonds amidst the flames. Gradually growing trust, love, and understanding between found families. But there’s no escaping this place, its deadly realities, or its predators. A brutal capture. A hellish withdrawal and fragile recovery. A harrowing escape. A breakneck sprint across a haunted, poisoned wasteland.
Life and death, trust and betrayal, choking smoke and breaths of fresh air—all of these are just part of life within Parole.
Literary, lyrical, and cuttingly satiric, Mother India is a brilliantly original novel about Jews who go to India to find transformation and eternal release from the sufferings of life. Narrated in luminous prose by Meena, a Jewish American lesbian who has claimed India as her home, the novel is vividly populated by the darkly comic universe of three generations of women along with other family members, as well as by the Indians whose world they seek to penetrate. There is Meena’s religiously observant mother, Ma, whose desire to remove herself from the wheel of life plays out in a Faulknerian funeral procession and cremation on the banks of the holy river Ganges; Meena’s daughter, Maya, a misunderstood child coming of age in an emotionally treacherous household; her ex-wife, Geeta, a privileged and hedonistic Indian woman who enters their world with devastating consequences; Meena’s twin brother, Shmelke, a charismatic rabbi turned guru and international fugitive; and the Indian servant, Manika, whose loyalty to the family both sustains and shackles them.
ldentifying with the humanity of its characters, the reader is drawn into a vast, tragicomic, and fascinating epic, Homeric in scope, drama, discovery, and surprise. Universal yet intimate, brutal yet tender, satiric yet sympathetic, Mother India evokes reactions–intellectual, emotional, visceral–that are complex, even contradictory, containing the might and bite that our current cultural hubris and self-involvement deserve. In Mother India, Reich offers us her most poignant and astonishing novel to date.
Princess Galina’s father has set her a difficult task: persuade a peasant named Elena to reveal the secrets behind her magical powers. Difficult, and maybe impossible, given that Elena is stubborn to a fault and has no respect for authority—especially the kind that wears a crown. And the more time passes, the less Galina cares about doing her duty and more about simply Elena herself.
The relationship between two goddesses, one the embodiment of a galactic creation and the other of cosmic destruction, is tempestuous at best. They create and they destroy and then they do it all over again. Seya and Mia use their divine magic to make pulsars and nebula, to set planets spinning around stars and bind a galaxy together with a central black hole.
But when one of Seya’s favorite stars goes missing, she blames Mia. What was once a symbiotic cycle of life and death becomes a game of broken hearts and promises betrayed. These tensions and insecurities are explored in sonnets and villanelles; the arc of their love tracked in meter and verse. These poems touch on queer love, betrayal, trust, acceptance, and forgiveness cast against a backdrop of stardust and celestial detritus.
Benjamin Lewis has created a life for himself as one of the most respected silversmiths and engravers in New York City. For Benjamin, his work is his passion and he has never sought out companionship beyond the close ties of family. Stumbling across dresses sew by his late mother, however, reawakens painful memories from his past. Now he is determined to forge something beautiful from the remains of the life and identity he left behind. In the process, he discovers stunning and fiercely intelligent Miss Quincy who might just have the power to tempt him out of his quiet isolation.
Remembrance Quincy’s talent is as undeniable as her needlework is exquisite. She has made a name for herself crafting quilts and embroidery pieces for all the wealthiest ladies in the city. When soft-spoken, yet charming, Mr. Lewis comes to her with a particular project in mind she is intrigued both by his artistic design and by the man himself. He treats her like an equal, values her work and makes her smile, but Remembrance already gave her heart away once, now can she risk doing it again?
For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.
All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.
Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.
Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.
A fresh, charming rom-com perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Boy Meets Boy about Nathan Bird, who has sworn off happy endings but is sorely tested when his former best friend, Ollie, moves back to town.
Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings.
Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.
Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.
After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?
Pretty Little Liars meets Dan Savage in this modern, fresh, YA debut about an unapologetically queer teen working to uncover a blackmailer threatening him back into the closet.
Jack has a lot of sex–and he’s not ashamed of it. While he’s sometimes ostracized, and gossip constantly rages about his sex life, Jack always believes that “it could be worse.”
But then, the worse unexpectedly strikes: When Jack starts writing a teen sex advice column for an online site, he begins to receive creepy and threatening love letters that attempt to force Jack to curb his sexuality and personality. Now it’s up to Jack and his best friends to uncover the stalker–before their love becomes dangerous.