16 Queer YA Books We Loved In 2018
The representation jumped out (of the page).
Release date: Jan. 23
What it's about: Alice's summer has just been ruined by her girlfriend breaking up with her — all because Alice admitted that she is asexual. Heartbroken, she vows to swear off dating...until she meets Takumi, a fellow employee at the library. Alice can't ignore her growing crush, but she has to decide if she's willing to risk her heart again and reveal her asexuality to someone who might not understand it.
Release date: Feb. 13
What it's about: Set in Paris, this graphic novel follows Sebastian, a prince with a secret. By day, Sebastian laments his parents' fervent search for his bride-to-be, but by night, Sebastian transforms into fashion icon Lady Crystallia! Sebastian's best friend and dressmaker, Frances, has kept his secret, but when the secret becomes too hard to keep, she may risk their friendship and Sebastian's trust for her own shot at the spotlight.
Release date: Feb. 27
What it's about: This short story collection features diverse queer stories from a wide range of authors, including Mackenzi Lee, Robin Talley, and Elliot Wake. The anthology spans centuries, from a Little Red Riding Hood retelling set in 1870s Mexico to a girl discovering her asexuality in 1970s disco clubs. All of the stories feature characters that reflect the authors' identities (aka they're #ownvoice stories) and the representation feels true and honest.
Release date: April 3
What it's about: Abby is 17, the writer of a plus-size fashion blog, and definitely gay. She's also always felt like the sidekick to her friends' stories, but all that changes when she wins a coveted fashion internship the summer before her senior year and meets fellow intern Jordi Perez. Their summer romance seems perfect, but will Abby's hesitations about accepting herself hold her back from living her own story?
Release date: April 24
What it's about: A follow-up novel to Albertalli's hit Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this coming-of-age story follows Simon's best friend, Leah, who recently came out to her mom as bisexual but hasn't yet told her friends. Leah on the Offbeat follows Leah not just through a journey through her own sexuality, but also through the hardships of high school, complicated relationships, and embracing body positivity.
Release date: May 15
What it's about: Mara and Owen aren't just twins; they're best friends. So when Owen is accused of rape by Mara's friend Hannah, she doesn't know what to think — and with her relationship with ex-girlfriend Charlie on the rocks, Mara doesn't know who to turn to. Confronting timely topics like sexual assault, consent, and victim-blaming, this novel will blow you away with its openness and raw emotion.
Release date: May 22
What it's about: Emmy is a real-life teen rock star, but that fame comes with a price: After a night of partying lands Emmy and her girlfriend in trouble, she's branded as a train wreck by the paparazzi. Emmy leans on her bandmates — including the crushworthy Alfie — for support. But will this bandmate romance only lead to more tabloid drama? This fun novel represents a cast of diverse characters you'll fall in love with.
Release date: May 22
What it's about: Moss's father was killed by an Oakland police officer six years ago. Between that and the prisonlike state of his neighborhood, he deals with extreme panic attacks. When he and his friends decide enough is enough, they rise up to push back against the racism happening in their own community. Featuring a diverse group of gay, trans, bisexual, and ace teens, this story touches on topics like modern racism and police brutality.
Release date: June 5
What it's about: Brynn's life has been falling apart: Her brother died, she and her girlfriend broke up, and now she's failing her classes at school. The only constant in Brynn's life is Rachel Maddow, whom Brynn watches obsessively and even drafts unsent emails to, like an online diary. When Brynn gets involved in messy school politics, she'll have to ask herself: What Would Rachel Do?
Release date: Aug. 28
What it's about: This novel follows Darius, a shy kid living with depression who knows more about Star Trek culture than that of his Persian mother. But when his family takes him to Iran for the first time, he finally feels like he belongs, in large part due to a new friend named Sohrab. This novel explores concepts of identity, friendship, and family as we follow Darius through an eye-opening summer.
Release date: Sept. 11
What it's about: Rumi may have a lot of questions about her life, but she does know that she wants to spend her life writing music with her sister, Lea. But when Lea suddenly dies and Rumi's mother sends her to live with her aunt in Hawaii, Rumi struggles to grieve so far from home and without the comfort of music. With the help of new friends, Rumi learns how to navigate the waters of grief, and how to return to music without Lea by her side.
Release date: Oct. 2
What it's about: The follow-up to Lee's The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue follows Felicity, who, fired up from her recent jaunt around the world, decides she is going to follow her dreams and go to medical school. But as a woman in the 1700s, that's not such an easy feat. Felicity — who is ace — teams up with two other bold women on her journey to change her life.
Release date: Oct. 9
What it's about: Blanca and Roja del Cisne are cursed. Sisters within their family must sacrifice themselves to the swans; one will return home, while one will be taken away forever. Although they are complete opposites, the sisters bond over their fear of the impending curse, trying to discover a way to break it. With a cast of enchanting side characters (including one who is genderqueer) this fairy-tale retelling feels like a breath of fresh air.
Release date: Oct. 9
What it's about: This highly anticipated novel by two seasoned LGBT YA authors switches POV each chapter, introducing us to Ben and Arthur, both living in NYC. Arthur's love of Broadway has taught him that the universe can throw love at you at any time. Ben, on the other hand, has just broken up with his boyfriend and thinks the universe can shove it. When they "meet-cute" at the post office, will it end in disaster or happily ever after?
Release date: Nov. 6
What it's about: Every year, eight beautiful "Paper girls" are chosen to serve the king; this year, a ninth girl is chosen. Lei is also a member of the low-born Paper caste, but it's her strange and mesmerizing golden eyes that catch the king's interest. She and the other girls train to please the cruel king, learning to simply accept their fate, but then Lei does the unthinkable: She falls in love with another Paper girl.
Release date: Nov. 13
What it's about: This novel twists together the stories of two lesbians, one living in 1955 and the other in 2017. Modern-day Abby is researching lesbian pulp fiction from the ’50s when she falls in love with a particular author: Marian Love. This is how we meet Janet, a woman living in McCarthy-era 1955, struggling to keep her love for her best friend a secret while still telling her own story. This novel doesn't just tell two beautiful tales, but teaches crucial LGBT history in the process.