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YA with pride

June is LGBT Pride Month. Before, during, and after the parades have been attended and the rainbow cakes baked, readers can find queer-centric tales of love, struggle, and discovering one’s identity in the following books.

lacour_you know me wellIt’s Pride Week in San Francisco in Nina LaCour and David Levithan’s You Know Me Well, and high-school seniors Mark and Kate have much to figure out about themselves, including how out-and-proud they want to be. Mark hooks up sometimes with his best friend Ryan, but Ryan won’t talk about it; Kate keeps shying away from potential love-interest Violet. The story features funny and introspective teens with big decisions to make — some related to their sexuality, some not. (St. Martin’s Griffin, 14 years and up)

whaley_highly illogical behaviorIn John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior, agoraphobic sixteen-year-old Solomon hasn’t left his house in three years. Aspiring psychologist Lisa thinks she’s found, in Sol, the perfect subject for her college entrance essay, “My Personal Experience with Mental Illness.” As Lisa gets to know him, and then Lisa’s boyfriend Clark befriends him, too, the three become genuinely close. Sol comes out as gay, and subsequently cannot hide his growing attraction to Clark — an attraction that seems to be mutual. The story is skillfully done, from the fully realized supporting characters to the pithy, humorous dialogue. A hopeful novel with lots of heart. (Dial, 14 years and up)

linn_draw the lineAt the start of Laurent Linn’s Draw the Line, Adrian’s junior year in high school is not going well. A closeted gay teen stuck in small-town Texas, he’s surrounded by “Bubbas” whose primary values are football and beer. Although he finds solace in his friends, Adrian’s only true escape from the world of Bubbas is when he works on his anonymously published webcomic about an openly gay superhero, Graphite (episodes of the comic, illustrated by Linn, are interspersed throughout). Despite Adrian’s bitter and sardonic narration, this is a story of love triumphing over hate; art defeating bigotry; and the complexities of life as a not-quite-out gay teen. (McElderry, 14 years and up)

russo_if i was your girlAfter getting beaten up in a mall bathroom, eighteen-year-old transgender girl Amanda, the protagonist of If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, decides to move in with her father in Lambertville, Tennessee, where no one knows her. Though she’s determined to lie low while finishing high school, she finds friendships with a trio of Baptist girls from her class and with art classmate Bee. Even more unexpected is her blossoming relationship with Grant, who has a complicated past of his own. Flashbacks to Amanda’s life pre-, during, and post-suicide attempt and transition are interspersed throughout the narrative. Russo, herself a trans woman living in Tennessee, crafts a thoughtful, truthful coming-of-age tale that is neither overly sentimental nor didactic. (Flatiron, 14 years and up)

From the June 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

For more in The Horn Book’s Pride Month series, click on the tag LGBT Pride 2016.

Siân Gaetano About Siân Gaetano

Siân Gaetano is assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc. Follow her on Twitter @KidLitChick.

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