16 LGBTQ+ stories from debut YA authors

 

Sharing brand new rainbow reads from first time authors.

Happy Pride Month readers!

LGBTQ+ focused stories aren’t new to young adult literature, but there’s no doubt that there’s been a massive surge in recent years. With more LGBTQ+ stories being published than ever before, we’re excited to highlight the work of debut young adult authors, sharing stories for the first time in 2022.

Here are 16 debut YA novels — with a little about each from their publishers — that feature LGBTQ+ stories for you to enjoy this Pride month and all year long!

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Spin Me Right Round by David Valdes

‘Spin Me Right Round’ by David Valdes (Bloomsbury YA)

All Luis Gonzalez wants is to go to prom with his boyfriend, something his “progressive” school still doesn’t allow. Not after what happened with Chaz Wilson. But that was ages ago, when Luis’s parents were in high school; it would never happen today, right? He’s determined to find a way to give his LGBTQ friends the respect they deserve (while also not risking his chance to be prom king, just saying…).

When a hit on the head knocks him back in time to 1985 and he meets the doomed young Chaz himself, Luis concocts a new plan-he’s going to give this guy his first real kiss. Though it turns out a conservative school in the ’80s isn’t the safest place to be a gay kid. Especially with homophobes running the campus, including Gordo (aka Luis’s estranged father). Luis is in over his head, trying not to make things worse-and hoping he makes it back to present day at all.


Love Somebody by Rachel Roasek

‘Love Somebody’ by Rachel Roasek (Farar, Straus & Giroux)

Sam Dickson is a charismatic actress, ambitious and popular with big plans for her future. Ros Shew is one of the smartest people in school–but she’s a loner, and prefers to keep it that way. Then there’s Christian Powell, the darling of the high school soccer team. He’s not the best with communication, which is why he and Sam broke up after dating for six months; but he makes up for it by being genuine, effusive, and kind, which is why they’re still best friends.

When Christian falls for Ros on first sight, their first interaction is a disaster, so he enlists Sam’s help to get through to her. Sam, with motives of her own, agrees to coach Christian from the sidelines on how to soften Ros’s notorious walls. But as Ros starts to suspect Christian is acting differently, and Sam starts to realize the complexity of her own feelings, their fragile relationships threaten to fall apart.


The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder

‘The Bone Spindle’ by Leslie Vedder (Razorbill)

Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi–until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she’s stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.

Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way–not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane’s heart, along with whatever else she’s after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.

Read Bookstacked’s review of The Bone Spindle


The Temperature of Me and You by Brian Zepka

‘The Temperature of Me and You’ by Brian Zepka (Disney-Hyperion)

Dylan has always wanted a boyfriend, but the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia do not have a lot in the way of options. Then, in walks Jordan, a completely normal (and undeniably cute) boy who also happens to run at a cool 110 degrees Fahrenheit. When the boys start spending time together, Dylan begins feeling all kinds of ways, and when he spikes a fever for two weeks and is suddenly coughing flames, he thinks he might be suffering from something more than just a crush.


Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie

‘Ophelia After All’ by Raquel Marie (Feiwel & Friends)

Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.

So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.


All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brow

‘All That’s Left In The World’ by Erik J. Brow (Balzer & Bray)

When Andrew stumbles upon Jamie’s house, he’s injured, starved, and has nothing left to lose. A deadly pathogen has killed off most of the world’s population, including everyone both boys have ever loved. And if this new world has taught them anything, it’s to be scared of what other desperate people will do . . . so why does it seem so easy for them to trust each other?

After danger breaches their shelter, they flee south in search of civilization. But something isn’t adding up about Andrew’s story, and it could cost them everything. And Jamie has a secret, too. He’s starting to feel something more than friendship for Andrew, adding another layer of fear and confusion to an already tumultuous journey.


This Is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves

‘This Is Why They Hate Us’ by Aaron H. Aceves (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers)

Enrique “Quique” Luna has one goal this summer—get over his crush on Saleem Kanazi by pursuing his other romantic prospects. Never mind that he’s only out to his best friend, Fabiola. Never mind that he has absolutely zero game. And definitely forget the fact that good and kind and, not to mention, beautiful Saleem is leaving L.A. for the summer to meet a girl his parents are trying to set him up with.

Luckily, Quique’s prospects are each intriguing in their own ways. There’s stoner-jock Tyler Montana, who might be just as interested in Fabiola as he is in Quique; straight-laced senior class president, Ziggy Jackson; and Manny Zuniga, who keeps looking at Quique like he’s carne asada fresh off the grill. With all these choices, Quique is sure to forget about Saleem in no time.

But as the summer heats up and his deep-seated fears and anxieties boil over, Quique soon realizes that getting over one guy by getting under a bunch of others may not have been the best laid plan and living his truth can come at a high cost.


Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado

‘Burn Down, Rise Up’ by Vincent Tirado (Sourcebooks Fire)

For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York’s past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.


The Queen of Junk Island by Alexandra Mae Jones

‘The Queen of Junk Island’ by Alexandra Mae Jones (Annick Press)

Still reeling from a recent trauma, sixteen-year-old Dell is relieved when her mom suggests a stay at the family cabin. But the much-needed escape quickly turns into a disaster. The lake and woods are awash in trash left by a previous tenant. And worse, Dell’s mom has invited her boyfriend’s daughter to stay with them. Confident, irreverent Ivy presses all of Dell’s buttons–somehow making Dell’s shame and self-consciousness feel even more acute. Yet Dell is drawn to Ivy in a way she doesn’t fully understand. As Dell uncovers secrets in the wreckage of her family’s past–secrets hinted at through troubling dreams and strange apparitions–Ivy leads her toward thrilling, if confusing, revelations about her sexuality and identity.


The Many Half-Filled Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor

‘The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester’ by Maya MacGregor (Boyd Mills Press)

Sam Sylvester’s not overly optimistic about their recent move to the small town of Astoria, Oregon after a traumatic experience in their last home in the rural Midwest.

Yet Sam’s life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, the pretty neighbor. However, Sam can’t seem to let go of what might have been, and is drawn to investigate the death of a teenage boy in 1980s Astoria. Sam’s convinced he was murdered–especially since Sam’s investigation seems to resurrect some ghosts in the town.

Threatening notes and figures hidden in shadows begin to disrupt Sam’s life. Yet Sam continues to search for the truth. When Sam discovers that they may be closer to a killer than previously known, Sam has a difficult decision to make. Would they risk their new life for a half-lived one?


The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes

‘The Lesbiana’s Guide To Catholic School’ by Sonora Reyes (Harperteen)

Sixteen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers to be known for her killer eyeliner, not for being one of the only Mexican kids at her new, mostly white, very rich Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way.

After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend before transferring to Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: keep her brother out of trouble, make her mom proud, and, most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami.

The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. So cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?


Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster by Andrea Mosqueda

‘Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster’ by Andrea Mosqueda (Feiwel & Friends)

Growing up in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, Maggie Gonzalez has always been a little messy, but she’s okay with that. After all, she has a great family, a goofy group of friends, a rocky romantic history, and dreams of being a music photographer. Tasked with picking an escort for her little sister’s quinceañera, Maggie has to face the truth: that her feelings about her friends—and her future—aren’t as simple as she’d once believed.

As Maggie’s search for the perfect escort continues, she’s forced to confront new (and old) feelings for three of her friends: Amanda, her best friend and first-ever crush; Matthew, her ex-boyfriend twice-over who refuses to stop flirting with her, and Dani, the new girl who has romantic baggage of her own. On top of this romantic disaster, she can’t stop thinking about the uncertainty of her own plans for the future and what that means for the people she loves.


A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy

‘A Little Bit Country’ by Brian Kennedy (HarperCollins)

Emmett Maguire has big dreams. He wants to be country music’s biggest gay superstar—a far reach when you’re 17 and living in suburban Illinois. Thankfully, his parents are letting him do the next best thing for the summer: stay with his aunt in Jackson Hollow, Tennessee, and perform at Wanda World—the amusement park owned by his idol, country music legend Wanda Jean Stubbs.

Luke Barnes, a 17-year-old Jackson Hollow resident, has no interest in country music. As the grandson of Verna Rose, the disgraced country singer who had a famous falling out with Wanda Jean, the world of country music has only brought his family pain. But as medical bills pile up at home, he’s forced to accept a job in the last place he’d ever want to work: a restaurant at Wanda World.

With Emmett focused on his career, and Luke blossoming in the kitchen, neither boy is expecting to find romance. But sparks fly when they meet and soon the two are inseparable. However, when a long-lost secret about Luke’s grandma and superstar Wanda Jean comes to light, it threatens to unravel everything.


The Loophole by Naz Kutub

‘The Loophole’ by Naz Kutub (Bloomsbury YA)

Sy is a timid seventeen-year-old queer Indian-Muslim boy who placed all his bets at happiness on his boyfriend Farouk…who then left him to try and “fix the world.” Sy was too chicken to take the plunge and travel with him and is now stuck in a dead-end coffee shop job. All Sy can do is wish for another chance…. Although he never expects his wish to be granted.

When a mysterious girl slams into (and slides down, streaks of make-up in her wake) the front entrance of the coffee shop, Sy helps her up and on her way. But then the girl offers him three wishes in exchange for his help, and after proving she can grant at least one wish with a funds transfer of a million dollars into Sy’s pitifully struggling bank account, a whole new world of possibility opens up. Is she magic? Or just rich? And when his father kicks him out after he is outed, does Sy have the courage to make his way from L. A., across the Atlantic Ocean, to lands he’d never even dreamed he could ever visit? Led by his potentially otherworldly new friend, can he track down his missing Farouk for one last, desperate chance at rebuilding his life and re-finding love?


Epically Earnest by Molly Horan (June 21st)

‘Epically Earnest’ by Molly Horan (HMH)

Jane Grady’s claim to fame is that she was one first viral internet sensations, dubbed #bagbaby—discovered as a one-year-old in an oversized Gucci bag by her adopted father in a Poughkeepsie train station. Now in her senior year of high school, Jane is questioning whether she wants to look for her bio family due to a loving, but deeply misguided push from her best friend Algie, while also navigating an all-consuming crush on his cousin, the beautiful, way-out-of-her-league Gwen Fairfax.

And while Janey’s never thought of herself as the earnest type, she needs to be honest with her parents, Algie, Gwen, but mostly herself if she wants to make her life truly epic. With a wink toward Oscar Wilde’s beloved play, Epically Earnest explores the complexity of identity, the many forms family can take, and the importance of being . . . yourself.


How To Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy (September 27th)

‘How To Succeed In Witchcraft’ by Aislinn Brophy (Putnam)

Shay Johnson has all the makings of a successful witch. Now that she’s a junior at T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School, she’s one step closerto winning the full-ride Brockton Scholarship–her ticket into the university of her dreams. Her main competition? Ana freaking Alvarez. The key to victory? Impressing Mr. B, drama teacher and head of the scholarship committee.

When Mr. B persuades Shay to star in this year’s aggressively inclusive, racially diverse musicalat their not-quite-diverse school–she agrees, wearily, even though she’ll have to put up with Ana playing the other lead. But with rehearsals underway, Shay realizes Ana is…not the despicable witch she’d thought. Perhaps she could even be a friend–or more. And Shay could use someone in her corner once she finds herself on the receiving end of Mr. B’s unpleasant and unwanted attention. When Shay learns she’s not the first witch to experience his inappropriate behavior, she must decide if she’ll come forward. But how can she speak out when the scholarship–and her future–are on the line?


Which of these books are you looking forward to picking up?

Spencer is a high school English teacher in Montréal, Canada. He loves graphic novels and books about road trips.

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