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Love stories with Pride

Two intense, nonlinear explorations of love and loss; one surprising, sweet romance; and one high-stakes, swoon-worthy romp. What these very different (in genre and tone) love stories have in common are nuanced portrayals of a spectrum of sexual identities and experiences, making them welcome new additions to the canon of queer YA. Happy Pride Month!

In Adam Silvera’s History Is All You Left Me, seventeen-year-old Griffin loses Theo, his best friend and first love, twice: first when the young men break up, and again, as the book opens, when Theo drowns. Dual timelines carry readers simultaneously through Griffin and Theo’s sweet romance (and its inevitable dissolution) and Griffin’s heartbreaking journey through the grieving process. Silvera’s prose is raw yet lyrical, a good fit for Griffin’s intensity, and the minutiae of both romance and grief are closely observed and deeply felt. (Soho Teen, 14 years and up)

Dawn and Jessie were childhood best friends until they were caught experimenting sexually and traumatically separated. Now seventeen, the girls reconnect just as they begin to experience parallel dissociative episodes: Dawn in animalistic fugue states, and ballet dancer Jessie in a visceral experimental choreography. Despite the freedom the girls discover in their moments of dissociation and the sense of belonging they find in each another, the pair is led inexorably toward another wrenching parting. Amber J. Keyser’s Pointe, Claw will leave readers unsettled long after the final page is turned. (Carolrhoda Lab, 14 years and up)

Six foot three with dyed-blue hair, the eponymous protagonist of Julie Murphy’s Ramona Blue stands out in small-town Eulogy, Mississippi. She’s also a lesbian, a fact that’s accepted in Eulogy but one that limits her romantic options. Then her childhood friend Freddie moves back to town, and, to her surprise, Ramona discovers that she’s attracted to him. Ramona’s subsequent refusal to label herself as gay, straight, or bisexual is refreshing, as is her frankness about sexuality — Ramona is unapologetically herself. (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, 14 years and up)

Eighteen-year-old Monty, spoiled heir to a wealthy estate in eighteenth-century Britain, embarks on a year-long “Tour” of Europe in Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. One social offense and an antiquities theft later, Monty, his sister Felicity, and his lifelong best friend Percy (with whom Monty is hopelessly in love) are on the run. Mayhem, adventure, and a swoon-worthy emotional roller-coaster of a romance ensue. A historical fiction escapade that’s genre tribute, satire, and exemplar in one: trope-filled in the most gleeful way. (HarperCollins/Tegen, 14 years and up)

From the June 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book. For more on this topic, click on the tags LGBTQIA+ and Pride 2017.

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Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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