YA authors are recommending other YA books in this BuzzFeed list of The Best YA Books To Gift This Holiday Season, According To YA Authors. Some of the queer books mentioned are The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake, Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins, The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta, and You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson.
Here is a super easy trivia question. Do you know the first trans book written by a trans author to make the NYT bestseller list in fiction? Yes, it’s Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. There’s an article about it here, which includes some context and facts and some celebrating.
Since I am Latina and queer, I probably appreciate those aspects of the book the most. An honorable mention however, goes to the description ‘ghost-story-turned-gay-rom-com.’ If every ghost story turned into a gay rom-com, I would be able to watch and read ghost stories without recoiling in terror.
Cemetery Boys isn’t completely alone as there are multiple popular YA books featuring queer POCs. Though it’s probably very unlikely you would make it to my little corner of the world without knowing these titles, I’m going to mention them here anyway.
YA Books about LGBT+ Characters of Color
Do you ever get a weird song stuck in your head? If you are a human being, the answer is probably. And if the human being is me, then I have a song stuck in my head right now. I guess it’s just the subject matter that’s weird, because the song is oddly catchy. The subject is cults.
Speaking of weirdos, I write a series about a giant loser and his boyfriend. This is a cut part from One Little Lie where Ryan and Luke are hanging out in Ryan’s room being cute. They can’t be as on top of each other as they want to be because Ryan’s dad is home, they are teenagers, and Ryan’s father possibly owns a firearm. Okay, you are caught up.
“As much as I like your dad, you should probably open the door, so he doesn’t come back.”
“I don’t wanna get up.” Ryan groaned and buried his face in my chest. “Carry me.”
“Yeah, like that would work.”
Ryan was taller than me, though it was hard to tell when we were lying on the bed and he was clinging onto me like an octopus. I poked him in the side with a finger and he squirmed, so I did it again. He clung onto me tighter in retaliation, but I didn’t mind him being pressed up close to me in the first place, so I let him.
“Are you calling me fat?” he asked in a mock scandalized tone but didn’t pull away.
“I’m calling you a giant.” I wrapped my arms around him instead of pushing him away like I was supposed to. This wasn’t cuddling or something girly like that. It was just… a lying down hug. Okay, that didn’t sound any better.
He pulled his head back enough to glare. “You’re ruining the mood.”
“Think your dad did that,” I pointed out.
“Yeah, he’s good at that,” Ryan sighed before pulling away and getting up and opening the door.
“Too bad,” I continued. “I’m sure you were looking forward to doing that yourself.” Ryan was a smartass and could be kinda awkward, so he wasn’t the smoothest guy I’d ever dated. Well, no, he was, because he was the only guy I ever dated. Somehow, he made being weird seem attractive.
He came back and sat on the bed, hitting me in the stomach with a hand. “How dare you,” he protested. “I am romantic and sexy and errrrrotic.” He dragged the ‘r’ sound out while waggling his eyebrows at me.
Okay, sometimes he made being weird attractive and sometimes he was just weird. But still, it was cute coming from him. Even if I didn’t tell him that. “See that right there?” I asked smugly. “Ruining the mood.”
My newest obsession is Schitt’s Creek, which has been on my Netflix watch-list literally since I got Netflix. It’s been so long that actually watching it marks the end of era as the show will never again be that thing I want to watch but have never seen. But that’s okay. It’s really freaking good.
I am now going to gush about the show a little, which I have given myself permission to do because I also found a way to relate it back to books.
Premise: Schitt’s Creek is one of those riches to rags stories about a wealthy family who loses everything and has to start over. Which feels like a trope even though the only other show I can think of like it with a similar premise is Arrested Development.
Schitt’s Creek is the name of the town the Rose family starts over in, and Schitt is the name of the town’s founders, and their descendants still live in the town. It’s also ‘shit’ with an extra ‘t’, duh, but that apparently makes it appropriate enough to display with no censorship at all, which I think is really cool.
Why it’s awesome: Everything everyone says is hilarious, or the way they say it is what makes it fantastic, and I adore stories about terrible, selfish people learning to be a little less self-centered, preferably while still being endearingly terrible.
Also, duh, there’s queer characters! Awesome queer characters too. Even though it took me forever to start watching, usually the quickest way I start a book or show is: Do I have a mild interest? Are there gay people? If the answer to both is yes, I’m totally there.
Alexis, the adventurous free spirit. She also has hella style game, and she’s gorgeous. I would love to say I’m more like her, but I’m not.
David is who I uncomfortably identify with. He’s a worried over-thinker who is moody and obnoxious with an acerbic wit that is usually not appreciated. P.S. yay for pansexuality. In terms of growth and personal story, I prefer Alexis’ arc better. But David has the best romance.
Okay, now after being a loser about a TV show I love, here is a quote from One Little Word about being chill and not a weirdo.
What’s new in YA right now and what’s on the horizon?
I have no idea!
Everything is just so much, all the time, you know? Maybe not, because what I said doesn’t make a ton of sense, but I can’t keep up with new releases. So it’s good there’s other people out there to do that for me.
I found this list of YA fiction being released in July-September. These are all sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. The full list is here, but I figured I would just mention the queer ones. Because Hella Gay YA and all that.
Description: Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.
Release: Sept. 24
The only podcasts I’ve ever listened to are fictional ones about gay characters and true crime, and I’m sure there’s other types that are really good… but yeah, I’m only interested in podcasts if there’s true crime or queer characters and hopefully less crime.
Basically, it’s really cool that The Bright Sessions podcast is a book now.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Description: There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question–How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?
Release: Sept. 10
Jam is trans and selectively nonverbal, and this book sounds interesting and too scary for me. I have begun to very, VERY slowly enjoy a little bit of horror, mostly by accident. Otherwise I am a big coward and there’s no shame in that because I said so.
Description: Kylee is ensconsed in the Sky Castle, training with Mem Uku to master the Hollow Tongue and the Ghost Eagle. But political intrigue abounds and court drama seems to seep through the castle’s stones like blood from a broken feather. Meanwhile, Brysen is still in the Six Villages, preparing for an attack by the Kartami. The Villages have become Uztar’s first line of defense, and refugees are flooding in from the plains. But their arrival lays bare the villagers’ darkest instincts. As Brysen navigates the growing turmoil, he must also grapple with a newfound gift, a burgeoning crush on a mysterious boy, and a shocking betrayal.
Release: Sept. 3
Game of Thrones but gayer. And YA.
Is Game of Thrones already gay? I’m gonna get around to watching that eventually. I’m guessing there’s less gay people dying in horrific ways in this novel. Again, I don’t watch GoT, but it always seems like somebody is dying in horrific ways.
Of Ice and Shadows (Of Fire and Stars) by Audrey Coulthrust
Description: Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.
Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.
As rising tensions and unexpected betrayals put Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerge on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?
Release: August 13
This is the book where, whenever I see the first one on the list of top 100 queer YA novels, I’m like that looks cool, I should read that. And then I remember my KU is filled with M/M teen romances because those are the ones I write and occasionally blog about, but I read real slow, so I don’t read this yet.
True story. I’m sure all of this really helped you with your reading selections. I still want to read the first one, then this second one, because I have to go in order and because fantasy novel about princesses in love.
Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre
I’m including the cover of one book that may not be queer, or isn’t as far as I can tell, but I liked the tagline. So simple but memorable. This one also might be too scary for me, but again, love the tagline.
One Day at a Time was cancelled by Netflix a million years ago and I wanted to make a post about it in a timely manner… and then I didn’t. Crazy story, right? It’s all true. I wanted to write a post celebrating the cancelled but marvelous show and talking about how awesome it is, but when I started to do that I realized that I hadn’t even gotten to praising the show yet because I was mostly just pissy about it being cancelled. Basically? It was great and now I’m mad and sad.
Here’s some thoughts about ODAAT, Latnx representation, and queer characters on Latinx shows. And technically, this is still relevant because there is a chance that ODAAT may find a new home. Which yeah, that would be neat. (That’s me playing it cool. I really, really, REALLY want that to happen.)
Rita Moreno is Awesome
For those who don’t know, One Day at a Time is a Netflix show about a Cuban-American family that has Rita Moreno and is hilarious.
It’s so wonderful. A sitcom that’s not forced and terrible and that’s actually funny! And it’s about a Cuban family! And if that weren’t good enough, queer characters. And if that weren’t good enough, there’s whole storylines dealing with mental illness and working to de-stigmatize needing help for these problems. And if that weren’t enough, Rita Moreno! And if it that weren’t enough, it even got three seasons.
Sometimes the show is cheesy, sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s silly. Rita Moreno is an occasionally clueless old Cuban lady who rants about things the elderly fear and what is with kids these days, and then she gets worked into a frenzy about having Cuban pride, and then she loves on her grandson and basically I would believe they put stuff in the script like, ‘and here we’ll just let Rita be cute/funny/crazy and it will be awesome’ and it is.
The Stupidest, Greatest Joke Ever
True story, one time I watched this show called Black Sails because I thought it was about wlw mermaids, it was not, but it was really great anyway. I got interested because of the queer women and yet a straight white guy ended up being one of my faves. So, uh, yay Latinx people, but as I’m thinking of my favorite parts, both of them involve the token white guy. Oops.
This is really dumb, yet it’s by far my favorite thing to happen in the show. Yo enitendo means I understand. I don’t know if you need to know that to enjoy the joke, probably not, but there’s your impromptu Spanish lesson for the day.
My other favorite is anytime Schneider tries to do the sign of the cross.
More Hispanic People on TV, Please
When I was a kid, I remember hearing that the Mexicans were going to take over America. Being Mexican American, that sounded just fine with me. But when it comes to media portrayals of Latinx characters… If we’re supposed to take over, where are we? How come we never appear on TV?
Let me tell you something about our representation on TV. It sucks. Latinx people continue to be so poorly represented even though as a whole things slowly seem to be shifting in the right direction with more diverse casts. There’s a few shows like Brooklyn 99 and Superstore, so I’m mentioning them because they rock.
The Only Good Sitcom About Latinx People in the History of the World
That’s barely an exaggeration, at least when it comes to U.S. shows in English.
In the past undetermined amount of time I’ve been alive, I have watched at least one episode of about every sitcom focusing on a Latinx family. Seriously, even completely terrible ones no one remembers anymore like the Rob Reiner one or George Lopez one after the longer running but terrible first show he had. I’ve been doing this at least since I was a teenager and I usually watch with my mom. We do this for two reasons: one, we want the show to succeed whether we end up liking it or not because yay, Latinx characters and two, because maybe the show will actually be good.
They almost never are. There’s just so few of them already and there’s rarely anything that makes us want to keep watching. Occasionally, something has potential like Cristela and Telenovela, which was rough but I still loved, then it gets cancelled immediately.
Remakes, the Show You Loved Now with More Hispanics!
Not sure if this is good or not, but it seems like the thing to do these days is take a popular show that’s ended and redo it with a Latinx cast. Hopefully, there’s people who want to see it because they liked the first one, but then again there’s also people who liked the first one and hate that another is being made. There’s One Day at a Time, Charmed, Mayans.
So if you see the show you really loved when it was on is now being recreated with Mexicans, Cubans, or Puerto Ricans or something, please don’t immediately hate on it. Yes, I know, another remake, but we don’t get a ton of original content with Latinx casts, so please let us have this.
Hella Gay YA
Hey, that’s me! Or my blog. I figure that, when having a blog, blogging is, you know, better than not blogging. So not everything is always related to my books or gay YA lit, but there is a correlation here!
The show has a queer young adult character in a leading role, Elena. If you are well-meaning and awkward, she’s super relatable. She likes social justice and feminism and ladies and not wearing dresses.
Also, I think this is a callback to the original show or something, I don’t know and it doesn’t really make a difference to me, I just love how excited she is to be a handy (wo)man.
Not all the books on this list are YA, in fact most aren’t, but they’re all FREE. There’s over 30 books and samples for you to browse and find something that suits you. They’re also all queer related.
If you like queer books and free stuff, then you’re in luck. Is it too much of a stretch to say this is St. Patrick’s Day related? It’s March and leprechauns are supposed to be lucky, so… I don’t know. What I do know is that there are TONs of free novels and samples available as part of the March Queer Your Heart Out Event.
I think, technically, a ton is 200 pounds. There’s more than 30 books, so maybe if the weight of all the paperbacks were combined, it would be a ton. Anyway, not all the books are YA but they seem to span the gauntlet of queer fiction. There’s bad boys, alphas, harems, lesbians, and more. Go check it out and find your next book to read!
I’m incapable of going out of order. Books, TV shows, movies, it doesn’t matter. I start at the beginning and move on from there. I’m in Pretty Little Liars Limbo because I’ve started it three times and then quit. Enough time passes where I feel compelled to watch from the beginning again but don’t really want to, so instead I just admire Keegan Allen from afar.
Arrow has been on my watch list since I got Netflix, but the start is just so dull. I wasn’t sure I’d ever watch it despite hearing it was good. Then Tumblr introduced me to the adorableness of Ray Palmer, and I really, really want to see Legends of Tomorrow. I just have to get through Arrow first. I’m on season two and it’s gotten better, and I’m still eagerly awaiting Ray. Of course, I also have to watch the Flash before LOT.
So, I’m slowly making my way through Arrow, then the Flash. However, if I ever need an incentive to keep watching, I think this is it: