What’s new in LGBTQIA+ YA October 2019
It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers October 2019 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (September 2019) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2018 master list. I’m working on the 2019 list. I’m happy to send you any list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.
Freeing Finch by Ginny Rorby (ISBN-13: 9781250293725 Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates Publication date: 10/01/2019)
From Ginny Rorby, the author of Hurt Go Happy, winner of ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award, comes Freeing Finch, the inspiring story of a transgender girl and a stray dog who overcome adversity to find love, home, and a place to belong.
When her father leaves and her mother passes away soon afterward, Finch can’t help feeling abandoned. Now she’s stuck living with her stepfather and his new wife. They’re mostly nice, but they don’t believe the one true thing Finch knows about herself: that she’s a girl, even though she was born in a boy’s body.
Thankfully, she has Maddy, a neighbor and animal rescuer who accepts her for who she is. Finch helps Maddy care for a menagerie of lost and lonely creatures, including a scared, stray dog who needs a family and home as much as she does. As she earns the dog’s trust, Finch realizes she must also learn to trust the people in her life—even if they are the last people she expected to love her and help her to be true to herself.
Redwood and Ponytail by K. A. Holt (ISBN-13: 9781452172880 Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC Publication date: 10/01/2019)
Kate and Tam meet, and both of their worlds tip sideways. At first, Tam figures Kate is your stereotypical cheerleader; Kate sees Tam as another tall jock. And the more they keep running into each other, the more they surprise each other. Beneath Kate’s sleek ponytail and perfect façade, Tam sees a goofy, sensitive, lonely girl. And Tam’s so much more than a volleyball player, Kate realizes: She’s everything Kate wishes she could be. It’s complicated. Except it’s not. When Kate and Tam meet, they fall in like. It’s as simple as that. But not everybody sees it that way. This novel in verse about two girls discovering their feelings for each other is a universal story of finding a way to be comfortable in your own skin.
Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry (ISBN-13: 9781641290746 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 10/08/2019)
In her debut novel, award-winning poet Brynne Rebele-Henry re-imagines the Orpheus myth as a love story between two teenage girls who are sent to conversion therapy after being caught together in an intimate moment.
Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has fought to hide her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are outed, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival, Raya vows to assume the role of Orpheus, to return to the world of the living with her love—and after she, Sarah, and the other teen residents are subjected to abusive and brutal “treatments” by the staff, Raya only becomes more determined to escape.
In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath and the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Brynne Rebele-Henry weaves a powerful inversion of the Orpheus myth informed by the disturbing real-world truths of conversion therapy. Orpheus Girl is a story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance.
CW: There are scenes in this book that depict self-harm, homophobia, transphobia, and violence against LGBTQ characters.
Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (ISBN-13: 9780062791177 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/08/2019)
The Thing About Jellyfish meets Raymie Nightingale in this tender middle grade novel from Lisa Jenn Bigelow, acclaimed author of Drum Roll, Please.
Hazel knows a lot about the world. That’s because when she’s not hanging with her best friend, taking care of her dog, or helping care for the goats on her family’s farm, she loves reading through dusty encyclopedias.
But even Hazel doesn’t have answers for the questions awaiting her as she enters eighth grade. What if no one at her new school gets her, and she doesn’t make any friends? What’s going to happen to one of her moms, who’s pregnant again after having two miscarriages? Why does everything have to change when life was already perfectly fine?
As Hazel struggles to cope, she’ll come to realize that sometimes you have to look within yourself—instead of the pages of a book—to find the answer to life’s most important questions.
The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy (ISBN-13: 9780062866417 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/08/2019)
From award-winning actor Maulik Pancholy comes a hilarious and heartfelt middle grade debut about a gay Indian American boy coming into his own. Perfect for fans of Tim Federle’s Nate series.
Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it.
Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge…. But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?
Funny, charming, and incredibly touching, this is a story about friendship, family, and the courage it takes to live your truth.
The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco (ISBN-13: 9780062821799 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/15/2019 Series: Never Tilting World #1)
A world split between day and night. Two sisters who must unite it. The author of The Bone Witch kicks off an epic YA fantasy duology perfect for fans of Furyborn.
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon—until one sister’s betrayal split their world in two. A Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in eternal night, the other scorched beneath an ever-burning sun.
While one sister rules the frozen fortress of Aranth, her twin rules the sand-locked Golden City—each with a daughter by their side. Now those young goddesses must set out on separate, equally dangerous journeys in hopes of healing their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.
Told from four interweaving perspectives, this sweeping duology packs elemental magic, star-crossed romance, and incredible landscapes into a spectacular fantasy adventure that’s equal parts Frozen and Mad Max: Fury Road.
Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor (ISBN-13: 9781338312270 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/15/2019)
The Lunar Chronicles meets Rook in this queer #OwnVoices science-fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sharon Cameron.
A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.
Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.
Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.
When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.
Beyond the Black Door by A. M. Strickland (ISBN-13: 9781250198747 Publisher: Imprint Publication date: 10/29/2019)
Beyond the Black Door is a young adult dark fantasy about unlocking the mysteries around and within us—no matter the cost…
Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers—like Kamai and her mother—can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.
But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.
When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.
A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom …
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett (ISBN-13: 9781984829955 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 10/29/2019)
The uplifting story of an HIV-positive teen, falling in love and learning to live her truth. “Romantic, funny, hopeful, and unflinchingly real.” —Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author of Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda
Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.
Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real—shy kisses escalating into much more—she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.
Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on. . . .
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About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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