It's Lit: Queer YA Beach Reads for Summer

There are very few things I love as much as a good book on a sweltering summer day. But those things are:
• A freezing cocktail
• An accessible body of water, and
• If that book happens to be queer YA!

So, here's a list of the books I've most anticipated this year! Grab your beach towel and a healthy supply of sunblock, because you won't be moving until you've finished the last page, and I don't want to be responsible for anyone's skin damage.

Noteworthy

Riley Redgate
Amulet
336 pages
ISBN: 9781419723735

Why I am all over this book:
1. A cappella (Oh, hell yes.) You don't grow up with all the men in your family singing and competing in barbershop quartets and not come out loving some a cappella. Lida Rose, bitches.
2. Girls dressed up as men. This might explain my affinity for suspenders and tipping my hat in greeting. And while the protagonist Jordan isn't actually transgender, but the story does acknowledge the existence of transgender people.
3. I am nothing if not a lover of Boarding School tropes. So sing me up! (See what I did there? That's a little barbershop humor, just for you!)


How to Make a Wish

Ashley Herring Blake
HMH Books
336 pages
ISBN: 9780544815193

Summer love blossoms between two girls on a small cape. Romance and representation—two of my favorite words.


Perfect Ten

L. Philips
Viking Books for Young Readers
352 pages
ISBN: 9780425288115

Sam is one half of a couple that is the total of gay representation at his school. When the relationship ends, what's a boy to do? Cast a love spell in the cemetery at midnight, obviously. Enter the conquests:
• The sexy French exchange student
• The sexy sweet and shy artist
• The sexy tattooed bad-boy musician
• (Are you sensing a theme?)

But wait! The ex! He was pretty great too, wasn't he?


Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Kathryn Ormsbee
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
384 pages
ISBN: 9781481489331

In this realistic novel, we have Tolstoy, vloggers, and a kick ass asexual protagonists! That calls for a whoop. WHOOP!


The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Mackenzi Lee
Katherine Tegen Books
528 pages
9780062382801

I could go on and on about how excited I was for this book, but to keep it short, I will leave it at these little gems:

"It's beginning to feel like he's shuffling his way through the seven deadly sins, in ascending order of my favourites."


"Just thinking about all that blood." I nearly shudder. "Doesn't it make you a bit squeamish?"
"Ladies haven't the luxury of being squeamish about blood," she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison.


"I swear, you would play the coquette with a well-upholstered sofa."
"First, I would not. And second, how handsome is this sofa?"


"God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends."


It's Not Like It's a Secret

Misa Sugiura
HarperTeen
400 pages
ISBN: 9780062473417

Sugiura's protagonist Sana has a lot of secrets: her insecurities, her dad's potential affair, and the one she guards most fiercely—the fact that she has a crush on her best friend. But after a move to California, Sana's ready for some honesty, and to get to know smart and beautiful Jamie Ramirez a little better. That is, as long as their friends don't get in the way. The good: Conversations about race, romance, family bonds, and sexuality. The bad: Teen angst. Who are we kidding, though? We love that too!


Dress Codes for Small Towns

Courtney C. Stevens
HarperTeen
352 pages
ISBN: 9780062398536

Please excuse me if my explanation of this book comes off a bit stilted, but I have recently met Court Stevens and am madly in love with her. That aside, I am genuinely excited for this exploration of small town culture, friendship, and love when it defies the conventions of those nearest and dearest to you. Stevens seems to have a good grasp on handling gender stereotyping, and I'm always a slut for giving the finger to expectations based on gender.


Noah Can't Even

Simon James Green
Scholastic
320 pages
ISBN: 9781407179940

The amount of time I spend with teenagers and online, you would think I would be sick of this vernacular, especially when used as the title OF A NOVEL!!! But, you would be wrong, sir or madam. I love a good sweet, funny story, especially one that doesn't take itself too seriously. The giant banana on the cover pretty much ensures that. And the only way to rate this is 10/10 A summer must!


Dreadnought (Nemesis, Book One)

April Daniels
Diversion Publishing
280 pages
ISBN: 9781682300688

"Genetics aren't destiny."

Danny finally gets the body she’s always wanted when superhero Dreadnought falls from the sky and transfers her powers (and all that goes with it) over to Danny. But the good comes with the bad, when Danny must deal with how her world responds to her new "girlhood." Her father wants to cure her, her best friend wants to date her, and she hasn't even mastered her powers yet! But all of that may have to wait because Dreadnought's murderer is still wreaking havoc on the city. This is literally the book I've waited my whole life to read.


The Wishing Heart J.C. Welker
CreateSpace Publishing
380 pages
ISBN: 9781545287378

Oh mama, yes. Yes to this book. Magic in a real city? Folklore infused with girl/girl romance? A dark city full of intrigue and adventure? I'm just going to go ahead and say "YES!" a third time.


We Are Okay

Nina LaCour
Dutton Books for Young Readers
240 pages
ISBN: 9780525425892

We were miraculous.
We were beach creatures.
We had treasures in our pockets and each other on our skin.

Nina Lacour is one of those authors, I've found, that if you like her, you love her. And this story of Marin, a girl with a secret and a lot of baggage is already a new favorite. It covers trauma, friendship, and heartbreak. So, you know. Approach with caution. But still, approach. There are less poetically appropriate places to be weeping than on the beach.


Honestly Ben

Bill Konigsberg
Levine/Scholastic
336 pages
ISBN: 9780545858267

This is the second book in the Openly Straight duology. When I read the first book, I thought was a standalone, a standalone that gave me (please excuse me as my fangirls shows): All. The. Feels. I would not suggest reading this one first, but I am adding it to the list because if 2017 gives me nothing else, it gave me another dose of bisexual basket case Ben Carver, and that will have to be enough.


Our Own Private Universe

Robin Talley
Harlequin Teen
384 pages
ISBN: 9780373211982

Bisexual girl seeks adventure and sex in an overtly church-y environment. The keywords on this book read like someone took them directly from my adolescence. Except, in like, Mexico.


History Is All You Left Me

Adam Silvera
Soho Teen
304 pages
ISBN: 9781616956929

Oh! Flame Con favorite, Adam Silvera… What the fuck did I ever do to you? Are all of Adam's books destined to make my heart into a repeatedly battered piñata? Probably. Will I continue to read his books? Yes. Do I love him for it? Double yes. Silvera always makes me feel like I am in on a secret. His books make me feel like I am listening to a confiding friend, or reading their personal journal. There's an honesty to all his words that hurt a little, but in that way that makes you sigh contently afterward. This is a hold-the-book-to-your-heart story.


Beast

Brie Spangler
Knopf
336 pages
ISBN: 9781101937167

"…talking always feels like defending and I’m tired of asking for permission to exist."

A tough look into self-harm, body issues, and transphobia. While the Beauty and the Beast parallels are a little thin, having trans girl Jamie as our Beauty is well worth it! Serious trigger warnings for transphobia though, so while this might not be your next fluffy beach read, if you want to brood alone in the corner of that barbecue you've been dreading, you've found the one. You're indignant expression will keep the do-gooders at bay.


Whatever.: Or how Junior Year Became Totally F$@cked

S.J. Goslee
Roaring Brook Press
272 pages
ISBN: 9781626723993

Now, here is your fluffy beach read! Like a fine wine… erm? I mean, like a perfectly packed bowl, Whatever. is funny, crass, and heartwarming. Just imagine your favorite stoner friend coming over and reading you the screenplay to the hot new straight-to-dvd teen movie. It’s just like that, but better, cause its hella gay.


The Upside of Unrequited

Becky Albertalli
HarperCollins Publishers
352 pages
ISBN: 9780062348708

"I mean, here's the thing I don't get. How do people come to expect that their crushes will be reciprocated? Like, how does that get to be your default assumption?"

Read Becky Albertalli, OK? Just do yourself a solid. Her book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda will be coming out on film sometime in 2018, and will be starring (just to name a few) Jennifer Garner and Colton Haynes. Albertalli's style is uniquely self-deprecating, funny and sweet. But her books also have a way of hitting you right in the heart. You feel them afterwards. This will not be a book you donate to the library as soon as you're done. This one will sit on your shelf forever, and you'll lovingly stroke the spine each time you walk by.


The Love Interest

Cale Dietrich
Feiwel & Friends
384 pages
ISBN: 9781250107138

"You aren't going to shoot me. You're just a Love Interest."
"No, I'm not." I lower the gun and aim it at his right kneecap.
Even though I've been through hell, even though I've been told I'm worthless my whole life, even though I'm gay, even though the world wants me to bow down and accept that who I am makes me insignificant, the following is true:
"I'm the protagonist, fucker!"
I pull the trigger.

OMG! A LOVE TRIANGLE TEEN SPY BOOK WHERE THE BOYS FALL IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER!

Let that sink in. Then go read it.


The Gallery of Unfinished Girls

Lauren Karcz
HarperCollins Publishers
352 pages
ISBN: 9780062467775

Magical Realism? ✔
Artsy protagonist? ✔
Girls loving girls? ✔

You can see where I’m going with this. Come to me July 25 (the official release date of The Gallery of Unfinished Girls). Do not play coy.


Mask of Shadows (Untitled, Book One)

Linsey Miller
Sourcebooks
352 pages
ISBN: 9781492647492

Gender fluid Sal is a thief on a mission. Their home has been destroyed and they want revenge. Auditioning with the Queen's band of personal assassins seems like a good place to start. Violence and romance ensues. While I'm not usually one to pick out a good ol' fight to the death story, the world building here is exciting, and I do love to root for the underdog!