Favorite time of year alert! If there’s one thing I love, it’s getting to highlight a whole host of rainbow titles making their way to YA shelves in the near future. The below titles include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, intersex, asexual, agender, and pansexual rep in contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, magical realism, and even nonfiction. Whether you’re looking to see yourself in more lit, diversify your collection, or just find some damn good books that happen to feature queer characters, there’s definitely something for you this season! And for more, make sure you also check out the upcoming sequels post for more info on Sovereign, by April Daniels; Robot Army, by Simon Curtis; Freed by Flame and Storm, by Becky Allen; Chainbreaker, by Tara Sim; and Sea of Strangers, by Erica Cameron.
See all 2017 previews here.
The Art of Starving, by Sam J. Miller (July 11)
When Matt’s sister, Maya, runs away, he knows exactly which group of guys at school is to blame. To find her, he decides to trail Tariq, the guy they both crushed on before she disappeared. But between Maya’s absence and his feelings getting in the way of his goals, Matt needs to get something under control, and for him, that means super strict diet control, to the point of developing an eating disorder. In his mind, forgoing food is keeping him sharp and giving him powers bordering on supernatural. In real life, it’s threatening to take away everything and everyone he has left. If this debut sounds suspiciously like it will wreak havoc on your feelings, there’s a good reason for that: it totally will. But it’s so worth it, especially with the dearth of eating disorder books in YA starring boys.
The Gallery of Unfinished Girls, by Lauren Karcz (July 25)
In this gorgeously written debut, Mercedes Moreno is suffering some serious artist’s block, but in her defense, she’s got a lot going on: her beloved grandmother is in a coma, and her mother’s taken off to Puerto Rico to care for her, leaving Mercedes behind to care for her little sister. Oh, and she’s completely in love with her best friend, Victoria. Her new neighbor, Lilia, won’t let her give up, though, and introduces her to the Red Mangrove Estate, which functions as a sort of artists’ colony. It’s there that Mercedes does her best work and confronts the feelings threatening to overwhelm her—but when she realizes none of that work can leave the estate with her, she has to make a choice: get sucked into the isolated world where her creative mind blossoms, or stick to the real one, no matter what issues that forces her to confront.
Little & Lion, by Brandy Colbert (August 8)
When Suzette (aka “Little”) returns from boarding school, she’s not quite sure what she’s coming back to. Her parents sent her across the country while the family adjusted to her brother’s bipolar diagnosis, she’s still working out what it means for her sexuality that her roommate turned into far more, and while she’s slipping back in with her friends pretty seamlessly, she’s saddened to learn none of them have been there for Lionel (aka “Lion”) through his mental health battle. Oh, and one of those friends is suddenly proving to be romantically intriguing? But he’s not the only one—the girl at the flower shop is proving pretty intriguing herself…to both Little and Lion.
Tiger’s Watch, by Julia Ember (August 22)
It’s a busy year for Ember, whose fabulous bisexual YA Little Mermaid retelling, The Seafarer’s Kiss, just released on May 4, and we couldn’t be gladder for it. Her newest fantasy revolves around a genderqueer teen soldier named Tashi, who flees to a monastery when their capital falls under siege. When the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, Tashi encounters enemy commander Xian, whose interest allows them an excellent opportunity to spy. But the information they uncover when they do turns Tashi’s world upside down, and puts them in a position to make the impossible choice between love and country…at least until the tiger to which Tashi is bonded threatens to make that decision for them, even if it forces Tashi into making the biggest sacrifice of all.
Dress Codes for Small Towns, by Courtney Stevens (August 29)
Growing up in small-town Kentucky as a preacher’s daughter, Billie has never quite fit in; being boxed into one gender really isn’t her style. Finding the space she needs to express both her gender and her sexuality isn’t easy, especially when the latter gets complicated in her close-knit friend group. The last thing she wants to do is upset the balance among the most stable relationships in her life, but if she doesn’t come clean about her feelings and identify with the people she’s tightest with, she might never be able to figure out who she is and what she wants.
They Both Die at the End, by Adam Silvera (September 5)
On the surface, Rufus and Mateo only have one thing in common, but it’s pretty major: the teens are both Deckers, i.e., people who’ve received the call that it’s their death day. They don’t when they’ll die or what’ll kill them; they only know it’s their last day to live, and neither one of them is kicking it off right. Mateo is all alone, his father unconscious in the hospital, and finds leaving the house a terrifying prospect. Rufus is on the run from guys who wanna kick his ass in revenge, meaning he doesn’t get to spend his last day with his best friends. They both need company as they wind down their final hours, but when the Last Friend app sets them up as death day buddies, neither could possibly foresee the importance of the last friend either of them will ever make.
Mask of Shadows, by Linsey Miller (September 5)
Genderfluid teen thief Sal has lost everything and everyone who’s ever mattered to them, and they want revenge. So when the perfect opportunity arises in the form of an audition for the Left Hand, the queen’s elite group of assassins, they gladly put their life on the line for a shot at the position. What ensues is a fight to the death between more than twenty competitors, just about all of whom have greater connections and training than a poor teen robber. But what Sal lacks in privilege, they make up for in gumption, cunning, fearlessness, and a willingness to do whatever needs to be done…unless it conflicts with their plans. Can Sal put aside their vengeful bloodlust if it means joining the group? Or will their emotions rule all, landing Sal on the wrong end of a knife? Not knowing which way morally questionable Sal would turn throughout the story was one of my favorite things in a long list of what I loved about Miller’s debut, and there aren’t a lot of tricks I wouldn’t steal from Sal if it meant getting my hands on the duology’s sequel ASAP!
Girls Made of Snow and Glass, by Melissa Bashardoust (September 5)
If the idea of a feminist retelling of “Snow White” told from the dual POVs of a lesbian Snow White and her conflicted stepmother sounds amazing, please allow me to tell you how desperately you need this debut: very. Lynet is fifteen, just a year younger than her stepmother, Mina, was when she married Lynet’s father. She adores Mina, and she thinks the feeling is mutual…until her father gives her control over the southern territories that were once to be Mina’s, and suddenly the person who matters most to her in the world might be her worst enemy. But Lynet and Mina share a secret: both are alive due only to magic performed by Mina’s dangerous, powerful father. And their searches for the love they crave and for meaning in their artificial survival just might be able to bring them back together.
I Hate Everyone But You, by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin (September 5)
Some books just sell you on the title, and if this isn’t one of those for you, then you and I have very little in common. But that’s okay, because as hardcore besties Ava and Gen embark on their first year of college, they rapidly learn they don’t have that much in common anymore, either. For Ava, college means slowly stepping out of the shell anxiety has trapped her in, finding her first boyfriend, and learning how to make friends now that her most reliable one is across the country. For Gen, it means exploring her sexuality, some confusing relationships, and where she fits on the queer spectrum. Think a combo of Gena/Finn, Leila Sales’s Mostly Good Girls, and Catherine Lo’s How it Ends, and you’ve got this debut novel by the cohosts of the YouTube channel Just Between Us, and one of the few LGTBQIAP+ YA novels that truly center around friendship, and one of the even fewer set in college.
Autoboyography, by Christina Lauren (September 12)
Tanner was out and proud as a bi guy in California, but now that his family is back in Utah (despite his mom’s LDS status being completely in the past), he’s back in the closet. Or at least, that was the plan…until he met Sebastian, a recent graduate of his high school who has returned to help teach Tanner’s creative writing class. Sebastian’s an author, a strict Mormon, and way too hot and sweet for Tanner to resist crushing on, even though he knows Sebastian’s religious convictions mean his feelings can’t go anywhere. But when it turns out his affection is reciprocated, and Tanner can’t help writing his book for class on their budding love story, they’ll both have big choices to make about the future, reconciling queerness and religion and the limits of devotion. This is such an excellent addition to the tiny canon of LGBTQA YA dealing with issues of faith, and the fabulous romance certainly doesn’t hurt!
Spinning, by Tillie Walden (September 12)
In this graphic memoir Walden reflects on the ten years figure skating took over her life, and how much she hated it. While it was initially a refuge from a difficult life, major changes resulting from a move to a new school—including falling in love with her first girlfriend—led her to look at the culture of her sport through a new lens, forcing her to realize the environment might not be the right one for who she truly is. As she examines the life she’d been living up to that point, she confronts the reality that the Olympics were probably never in her future, and what that means for how she spent her time thus far and who she’ll be in the future if she chooses to set herself free.
Jaya and Rasa. a Love Story, by Sonia Patel (September 12)
Morris Award nominee Sonia Patel (Rani Patel in Full Effect) returns with a sophomore novel about a privileged Gujarati trans boy named Jaya and a girl named Rasa who have a fortuitous meeting on a mountain in Hau’ula. Both Jaya and Rasa have struggled to find love and a true sense of family, despite the fact that he seems to have everything and she’s in a house full of siblings. But in finding each other, they just may get everything they’ve been looking for.
Release, by Patrick Ness (September 19)
Ness’s newest is a genre mashup with alternating storylines a la Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds that pulls inspiration from Judy Blume’s Forever and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Adam is the black sheep of the Thorn family, a gay kid surrounded by strict religious observance who can’t quite feel at home anywhere but with his best friend, Angela. His family doesn’t have money, which makes him extremely reliant on his job—a job that has just been threatened by his boss via sexual harassment, on the very same day his ex-boyfriend, Enzo, is leaving town for good. As Adam deals with the emotional overload and struggles with how to handle the situation (made especially tricky by his still being in the closet to his family, if not to anyone else), he must also take a hard look at the relationship he’s currently in—with sweet, wonderful Linus—and figure out why he’s unable to reciprocate love, and whether a lasting attachment to the guy who broke his heart is the key.
Kaleidoscope Song, by Fox Benwell (September 19)
Neo and Tale live in South Africa and are both obsessed with music—Neo with being behind the scenes on the radio, and Tale with making it on the stage. What they find one night after a chance meeting at a bar is another unexpected shared passion: each other. Neo knows she’s supposed to be with guys, and that Tale’s off limits, but she can’t help what—and who—she wants. Others think they can, though, and it means a major threat to Neo in this contemporary novel that addresses the epidemic of corrective rape.
Wild Beauty, by Anna-Marie McLemore (October 3)
National Book Award longlister, Stonewall Honoree, and Morris Award nominee (not bad, eh?) McLemore returns with her third novel steeped in magical realism, about a family of women who’ve tended lush, enchanted gardens for decades, and are stricken with a curse that makes any lover disappear if they fall too deeply. Estrella seems to defy doom when she discovers a boy wandering in the gardens, but the boy himself is something of an outlier—he has no idea who he is. Together, Estrella and Fel work to solve the mystery of his origin and identity, but they never expected what their journey would uncover about the danger and magic of the gardens of La Pradera.
27 Hours, by Tristina Wright (October 3)
Frequently billed as “Queer Teens in Space” (the book is set on a colonized moon and includes pansexual, bisexual, asexual, gay, and transgender representation among its lead characters), Wright’s sci-fi debut revolves around four runaway teens driven by secrets and desires who must stop a war between the colonies and the monsters before it renders everyone extinct…even if it requires them to commit treason.
Top Ten, by Katie Cotugno (October 3)
Gabby and Ryan are best friends, and despite all their differences, they’re the best parts of each other’s high school experiences. But now high school’s coming to an end, Gabby’s ex-girlfriend is off at college, and the thus-far platonic friendship Gabby and Ryan have always shared is getting…complicated. When they cross the blurry line of friendship, both have to assess what it means for their future as they get ready to part ways. But as they reflect on the best moments of the past four years and how they came together, will they realize best friendship is their destiny, or were they meant for something else entirely? With her fourth book (and first bi YA), New York Times bestseller Cotugno effortlessly affirms her spot at the top of my instabuy list and makes me hope this won’t be the last of her in LGBTQIAP YA!
That Inevitable Victorian Thing, by E.K. Johnston (October 3)
Morris Award nominee and New York Times bestseller Johnston has tackled everything from a cheerleading contemporary to Star Wars, but her newest might be have her most fascinating setting yet. In the near future of an alternate universe in which the British Empire never fell and the Victorian line reigns, direct descendant crown princess Victoria-Margaret is about to be genetically sorted into an advantageous marriage. First, however, she’ll have a final summer of freedom. She meets and bonds with Helena and August and adventures abound, as do bisexual and intersex representation.
Not Your Villain, by C.B. Lee (October 5)
Lee’s Not Your Sidekick is one of my favorite LGBT YA genre reads, so what could be better than revisiting the great cast from a new perspective? Where book 1 revolved around bisexual supervillain-intern Abby and her crush on classmate and coworker Jess, the sequel follows one of her best friends, Bells, a trans guy with his own superpowered secret…as well as a pretty supersized crush on his and Abby’s third BFF, Emma. Together, the trio embarks on a secret mission to find the Resistance opposing the corrupt superhero league exposed in the first book—an overwhelming proposition for a guy who’s just trying to get through high school and navigate his feelings. But with great power comes great responsibility, and Bells’ shapeshifting power may be exactly the solution they’re looking for.
Echo After Echo, by Amy Rose Capetta (October 10)
Winning the role of Echo at the legendary Aurelia Theater is a dream come true for Zara, but preparing for it is turning into a nightmare. Mysterious deaths, dangerous legends, and a frighteningly intense director make for a terrifying experience for the rising actress, but one thing makes it a whole lot better: Eli, the girl behind the lighting. The chemistry between them is undeniable, but deny it Zara must, for she has committed her whole heart to her part, and that doesn’t leave any room for love. In a place where death lurks around every corner, it might be too high a risk to be with Eli, but with feelings like hers, can Zara afford not to? Gorgeous, mysterious, intense, and darkly romantic, this bi YA is a book not to be missed.
Like Water, by Rebecca Podos (October 17)
Savannah is stifled by her small town, but her determination to help care for her father as his Huntington’s disease worsens means she’s homebound for the foreseeable future. She’s learned how to keep herself entertained, though, between a rash of hookups and a new job as a mermaid at a water park. But she doesn’t expect the best distraction of all: Leigh, who isn’t like anyone else Vanni knows, and leads her to recognize her bisexuality. The closer they get, the more Savannah is forced to confront how desperately she yearns for life outside New Mexico, no matter what and who she’ll be leaving behind. As with her debut, Podos proves she’s got major skills in crafting heartachey father-daughter relationships, a rarity in a category in which fathers are more often than not relegated to the background. And as with her debut, I loved this book.
A Line in the Dark, by Malinda Lo (October 17)
First fantasy, then sci-fi, and now Morris Award nominee Lo (Ash) is delving into thrillers with a concept that’s every one of my favorite things rolled into one super compelling and creepy delight. Jess is used to blending into the shadows, which is why even her best friend, Angie, is clueless as to Jess’s bordering-on-obsession romantic feelings. It’s also why Angie has no idea how much she’s hurting Jess when she hooks up with and falls for Margo, a boarding school girls whose social circle pulls Jess into a world of trouble. But are they the ones to fear? Or is Jess?
The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater (October 17)
In 2013, an agender teen named Sasha fell asleep on the 57 bus in Oakland, and woke up to find their skirt set aflame. The culprit? A Black sixteen-year-old boy who was subsequently charged as an adult and hit with two felonies carrying hate-crime clauses. Dashka Slater is the writer who captured the entire story for the New York Times Magazine in 2015, and is now behind this nonfiction YA, subtitled A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives, that presents the story and its aftermath in great detail.
The Sidekicks, by Will Kostakis (October 24)
Isaac’s death was a shock to all three of his best friends, and it isn’t helping in the aftermath that Isaac is the only thing they had in common. For Ryan, the loss of Isaac also means the loss of the only person who knew he was gay, which is exceptionally painful when it collides with his secret boyfriend’s “come out or we’re over” ultimatum. Now he’s left with no one to share the repercussions of his imploding life except these two guys he barely knows. Will they be enough to help him pick up the pieces and move forward to live to the fullest?
Runebinder, by Alex R. Kahler (November 14)
Everything around Tenn is perpetually on the brink of destruction, and as a Hunter, he’s in the only class with the power to fight back against the necromancer-fueled monsters threatening everyone who remains after magic has destroyed the world as we know it. When he draws the attention of both a monster named Tomás and a fellow Hunter named Jarrett, Tenn finds himself in an entirely new role in the all-encompassing war. And as his heart veers in a dangerous direction, his magic may follow.