This is an incredibly banner year for queer-girl Middle Grade, with the number of prose novels in that category more than doubling in 2018 alone. (They’ve been almost entirely in graphic novels until now.) Check out the five fantastic and hugely welcome new books joining existing staples like The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson and last year’s Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee.
One True Way, by Shannon Hitchcock (February 27)
It’s the 1970s and Anita Bryant is galvanizing the country against gay rights, something that hasn’t truly touched budding reporter Allie Drake thus far, though she does have an uncle who’s gay. But then, at her new school, she meets Sam, the fun, outspoken, dress-hating girl who goes on to become her new best friend and makes her feel things she has never felt before. She forms good relationships with a teacher and coach, women she eventually realizes aren’t just roommates. Now things are personal, and no matter how much Allie tries to hide from who she truly is, the love she feels for Sam and the depth to which she cares for the others simply won’t let her. The thing is, while she’s pretty sure her mom will be cool with the truth, there’s no doubt Sam’s won’t; she’s a member of the One True Way church, which decidedly isn’t welcoming to homosexuality. Is there any way Sam and Allie can make her see the light and finally get to be together?
P.S. I Miss You, by Jen Petro-Roy (March 6)
Evie misses her sister, Cilla, so much, this entire novel is full of letters to her. But it seems that when Cilla went off to have her out-of-wedlock baby and then go to Catholic school, never to return to the home her parents kicked her out of again, she truly left Evie behind, too. Evie does manage to connect with someone, though—new girl June, who puzzles Evie by saying strange things like that she finds Rey cute in Star Wars. But the closer they get, the more Evie gets what she means, and the more she feels it too. What she really needs is for her big sister to respond to her and give her advice; it’s not like she can turn to the parents who are so religious, they kicked out their other daughter for getting pregnant. Without Cilla, it’s all on Evie to figure herself and her heart out, and maybe that’s just what she’ll need to do.
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake (March 6)
When a tornado destroys Ivy’s home, the hardest thing in the world is that it takes her beloved sketchbook with it, destroying visions of her and a girl she’s never met but somehow envisioned happily being with. Those feelings are something she’s only been able to share with her art; her sister’s already proven she can’t be trusted with a secret of this nature, having ditched her own best friend for coming out. Then the person who found her notebook surfaces, leaving notes in her locker beseeching her to come out. She hopes it’s the girl she’s crushing on who’s leaving the notes, but if she’s wrong, how much does she risk losing?
Hurricane Child, by Kheryn Callender (March 27)
Caroline Murphy has always felt isolated, especially living on Water Island and having to take a boat to school on St. Thomas. Then her mother left, just a little over a year ago, and she’s learning new depths of what it means to be alone. But breaking up the pain of missing her mom and school bullies is the arrival of new girl named Kalinda, who comes from Barbados and almost immediately wins everyone over with her confidence and sense of humor. But it’s with Caroline that she truly clicks, until they’re so tight they’re known as Carolinda. But Caroline’s feelings for Kalinda are confusing; they don’t feel strictly friendly. She can’t risk their friendship, not when Kalinda is the only person willing to brave the hurricane to solve the mystery of Caroline’s missing mother for good. And she knows her feelings wouldn’t be reciprocated, or even welcomed…would they?
Drum Roll, Please, by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (June 26)
No one’s more surprised than mousey Melly that she loves playing the drums; the only reason she even joined the school band was because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But drumming makes her happy, and she’s about to spend two whole weeks doing it at Camp Rockaway. Camp, and her summer, are nothing like she expected, though. Olivia abandons her, her parents break up, and Melly develops a crush on another girl at camp. She’s gotta keep it all together and follow the drumbeat of her heart.
Which 2018 LGBTQ+ MG novels are you excited about?