Representation in media is important for LGBTQ people of all ages, and the publishing world has caught on. Below, learn more about six exciting new Young Adult books centering on LGBTQ characters, many of which are also written by queer authors.
Odd One Out, Nic StoneCrown Books for Young Readers
Told from three rotating perspectives, Odd One Out follows Courtney (or Coop), Rae, and Jupiter, three teens of color who navigate the intersections of sexuality, gender, and race as their high school romances play out. It’s the second novel from YA author Nic Stone, whose hard-hitting debut about police brutality and race relations in America, Dear Martin, became a New York Times bestseller.
The Spy with the Red Balloon, Katherine LockeAlbert Whitman & Company
In The Spy with the Red Balloon, Ilse and Wolf Klein, siblings living in World War II-era America, wield magical powers—and are blackmailed into lending their abilities to the military to fight Nazi Germany. But things take a drastic turn when Wolf’s plan to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program goes awry. The Spy with the Red Balloon tackles issues like racism and homophobia head-on. The book is a companion to 2017’s The Girl with the Red Balloon, another inclusive work of alternative historical fiction from author Katherine Locke, who uses she/her and they/them pronouns.
The Brilliant Death, Amy Rose CapettaViking Books for Young Readers
The Brilliant Death takes place in Vinalia, a magical world inspired by 19th-century Italy. Protagonist Teodora di Sangro is the daughter of a mafia don and a strega—a person with magical transformative powers—but she’s managed to keep her magic under wraps. When the Capo, Vinalia’s ruler, launches an attack on her family, Teodora is forced to transform herself into a boy and embark on an epic journey to save her loved ones. She enlists the help of Cielo, another strega who wants to help Teodora master her elusive abilities, and their relationship begins to blossom. The Brilliant Death is the latest novel from YA author Amy Rose Capetta, who identifies as queer and non-binary.
Running With Lions, Julian WintersDuet/Interlude Press
Running With Lions follows Sebastian Hughes, star goalie of high school’s soccer team. His senior year takes an unexpected turn when Emir, his estranged childhood best friend, returns—and the two spark up something more than friendship after Sebastian attempts to regain his favor. Running With Lions is the debut novel of writer Julian Winters, who got his start writing LGBTQ-centric stories as a teen (and amassed an impressive following for his inclusive fanfiction.)
Beneath the Citadel, Destiny SoriaAmulet Books
Beneath the Citadel transports readers to Eldra, a fictional city ruled by ancient prophecies—and a holier-than-thou high council. Protagonist Cassa and her allies, a ragtag crew of other young rebels, aim to uncover the truth of the elusive final infallible prophecy of Eldra. However, they soon realize they may have signed up for more than any of them bargained for. The book, the latest standalone fantasy novel from writer Destiny Soria, is jam-packed with LGBTQ representation, including canon gay, bisexual, and asexual characters.
This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story, Kheryn CallenderBalzer + Bray
This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story is the latest book from YA and Middle Grade author Kheryn Callender, who uses he/him and they/them pronouns. The book follows Nathan Bird, a jaded teen who’s sworn off of love and romance after his father’s death. However, Nathan quickly learns that things don’t always go according to plan—and he finds an unexpected glimmer of hope in his childhood BFF, Oliver James Hernández, who he might finally get the chance to open up to about his true feelings.