Happy Pride Month! Every year, I do a little round-up of YA books starring LGBTQ and BIPOC characters that have come out so far this year. This year was particularly exciting — there were so many books that I loved or have at the very top of my TBR! So, without further ado, here’s 9 of them for your TBR!
The Wicked Bargain by Gabe Cole Novoa
El Diablo is in the details in this Latinx pirate fantasy starring a transmasculine nonbinary teen with a mission of revenge, redemption, and revolution.
On Mar León-de la Rosa’s 16th birthday, el Diablo comes calling. Mar is a transmasculine nonbinary teen pirate hiding a magical ability to manipulate fire and ice. But their magic isn’t enough to reverse a wicked bargain made by their father and now el Diablo has come to collect his payment: the soul of Mar’s father and the entire crew of their ship. When Mar is miraculously rescued by the sole remaining pirate crew in the Caribbean, el Diablo returns to give them a choice: give up your soul to save your father by the Harvest Moon or never see him again. The task is impossible–Mar refuses to make a bargain and there’s no way their magic is any match for el Diablo. Then, Mar finds the most unlikely allies: Bas, an infuriatingly arrogant and handsome pirate — and the captain’s son; and Dami, a genderfluid demonio whose motives are never quite clear. For the first time in their life, Mar may have the courage to use their magic. It could be their only redemption — or it could mean certain death.
Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee
Heartstopper meets Crazy Rich Asians in this heartfelt, joyful paperback original rom-com that follows an aspiring chef who discovers the recipe for love is more complicated than it seems when he starts fake-dating a handsome new customer.
Dylan Tang wants to win a Mid-Autumn Festival mooncake-making competition for teen chefs—in memory of his mom, and to bring much-needed publicity to his aunt’s struggling Chinese takeout in Brooklyn.
Enter Theo Somers: charming, wealthy, with a smile that makes Dylan’s stomach do backflips. AKA a distraction. Their worlds are sun-and-moon apart, but Theo keeps showing up. He even convinces Dylan to be his fake date at a family wedding in the Hamptons. In Theo’s glittering world of pomp, privilege, and crazy rich drama, their romance is supposed to be just pretend… but Dylan finds himself falling for Theo. For real. Then Theo’s relatives reveal their true colors—but with the mooncake contest looming, Dylan can’t risk being sidetracked by rich-people problems.Can Dylan save his family’s business and follow his heart—or will he fail to do both?
Ander & Santi Were Here by Jonny Garza Villa
Aristotle and Dante meets The Hate U Give meets The Sun Is Also A Star: A stunning YA contemporary love story about a Mexican-American teen who falls in love with an undocumented Mexican boy.
Finding home. Falling in love. Fighting to belong. The Santos Vista neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas, is all Ander Martínez has ever known. The smell of pan dulce. The mixture of Spanish and English filling the streets. And, especially their job at their family’s taquería. It’s the place that has inspired Ander as a muralist, and, as they get ready to leave for art school, it’s all of these things that give them hesitancy. That give them the thought, are they ready to leave it all behind?
To keep Ander from becoming complacent during their gap year, their family “fires” them so they can transition from restaurant life to focusing on their murals and prepare for college. That is, until they meet Santiago López Alvarado, the hot new waiter. Falling for each other becomes as natural as breathing. Through Santi’s eyes, Ander starts to understand who they are and want to be as an artist, and Ander becomes Santi’s first steps toward making Santos Vista and the United States feel like home. Until ICE agents come for Santi, and Ander realizes how fragile that sense of home is. How love can only hold on so long when the whole world is against them. And when, eventually, the world starts to win.
She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran
A house with a terrifying appetite haunts a broken family in this atmospheric horror, perfect for fans of Mexican Gothic.
When Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam for a visit with her estranged father, she has one goal: survive five weeks pretending to be a happy family in the French colonial house Ba is restoring. She’s always lied to fit in, so if she’s straight enough, Vietnamese enough, American enough, she can get out with the college money he promised. But the house has other plans. Night after night, Jade wakes up paralyzed. The walls exude a thrumming sound, while bugs leave their legs and feelers in places they don’t belong. She finds curious traces of her ancestors in the gardens they once tended. And at night Jade can’t ignore the ghost of the beautiful bride who leaves her cryptic warnings: Don’t eat.
Neither Ba nor her sweet sister Lily believe that there is anything strange happening. With help from a delinquent girl, Jade will prove this house—the home her family has always wanted—will not rest until it destroys them. Maybe, this time, she can keep her family together. As she roots out the house’s rot, she must also face the truth of who she is and who she must become to save them all.
Venom & Vow by Anna-Marie McLemore, Elliott McLemore
Keep your enemy closer.
Cade McKenna is a transgender prince who’s doubling for his brother. Valencia Palafox is a young dama attending the future queen of Eliana. Gael Palma is the infamous boy assassin Cade has vowed to protect. Patrick McKenna is the reluctant heir to a kingdom, and the prince Gael has vowed to destroy. Cade doesn’t know that Gael and Valencia are the same person. Valencia doesn’t know that every time she thinks she’s fighting Patrick, she’s fighting Cade. And when Cade and Valencia blame each other for a devastating enchantment that takes both their families, neither of them realizes that they have far more dangerous enemies.
Cowritten by married writing team Anna-Marie and Elliott McLemore, this is a lush and powerful YA novel about owning your power and becoming who you really are – no matter the cost.
You Don’t Have a Shot by Racquel Marie
A queer YA romance about rival soccer players from author Racquel Marie, perfect for fans of She Drives Me Crazy .
Valentina “Vale” Castillo-Green’s life revolves around soccer. Her friends, her future, and her father’s intense expectations are all wrapped up in the beautiful game. But after she incites a fight during playoffs with her long-time rival, Leticia Ortiz, everything she’s been working toward seems to disappear.
Embarrassed and desperate to be anywhere but home, Vale escapes to her beloved childhood soccer camp for a summer of relaxation and redemption…only to find out that she and the endlessly aggravating Leticia will be co-captaining a team that could play in front of college scouts. But the competition might be stiffer than expected, so unless they can get their rookie team’s act together, this second chance―and any hope of playing college soccer―will slip through Vale’s fingers. When the growing pressure, friendship friction, and her overbearing father push Vale to turn to Leticia for help, what starts off as a shaky alliance of necessity begins to blossom into something more through a shared love of soccer. . . and maybe each other.
The Dos and Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar
A pun-filled YA contemporary romance, The Dos and Donuts of Love by Adiba Jaigirdar finds a teenage girl competing in a televised baking competition, with contestants including her ex-girlfriend and a potential new crush – perfect for fans of The Great British Bake Off and She Drives Me Crazy!
“Welcome to the first ever Junior Irish Baking Show!”
Shireen Malik is still reeling from the breakup with her ex-girlfriend, Chris, when she receives news that she’s been accepted as a contestant on a new televised baking competition show. This is Shireen’s dream come true! Because winning will not only mean prize money, but it will also bring some much-needed attention to You Drive Me Glazy, her parents’ beloved donut shop.
Things get complicated, though, because Chris is also a contestant on the show. Then there’s the very outgoing Niamh, a fellow contestant who is becoming fast friends with Shireen. Things are heating up between them, and not just in the kitchen. As the competition intensifies, Shireen will have to ignore all these factors and more― including potential sabotage―if she wants a sweet victory!
My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron
In this gothic YA remix of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, a teen boy tries to discover the reason behind his best friend’s disappearance—and the arrival of a mysterious and magnetic stranger—in misty Victorian London.
London, 1885. Gabriel Utterson, a 17-year-old law clerk, has returned to London for the first time since his life— and that of his dearest friend, Henry Jekyll—was derailed by a scandal that led to his and Henry’s expuslion from the London Medical School. Whispers about the true nature of Gabriel and Henry’s relationship have followed the boys for two years, and now Gabriel has a chance to start again. But Gabriel doesn’t want to move on, not without Henry. His friend has become distant and cold since the disastrous events of the prior spring, and now his letters have stopped altogether. Desperate to discover what’s become of him, Gabriel takes to watching the Jekyll house.
In doing so, Gabriel meets Hyde, a a strangely familiar young man with white hair and a magnetic charisma. He claims to be friends with Henry, and Gabriel can’t help but begin to grow jealous at their apparent closeness, especially as Henry continues to act like Gabriel means nothing to him. But the secret behind Henry’s apathy is only the first part of a deeper mystery that has begun to coalesce. Monsters of all kinds prowl within the London fog—and not all of them are out for blood…
As You Walk On By by Julian Winters
The Breakfast Club meets Can’t Hardly Wait with an unforgettable ensemble cast in another swoony YA contemporary from award-winning author Julian Winters!
Seventeen-year-old Theo Wright has it all figured out. His plan (well, more like his dad’s plan) is a foolproof strategy that involves exceling at his magnet school, getting scouted by college recruiters, and going to Duke on athletic scholarship. But for now, all Theo wants is a perfect prom night. After his best friend Jay dares Theo to prompose to his crush at Chloe Campbell’s party, Theo’s ready to throw caution to the wind and take his chances.
But when the promposal goes epically wrong, Theo seeks refuge in an empty bedroom while the party rages on downstairs. Having an existential crisis about who he really is with and without his so-called best friend wasn’t on tonight’s agenda. Though, as the night goes on, Theo finds he’s not as alone as he thinks when, one by one, new classmates join him to avoid who they’re supposed be outside the bedroom door. Among them, a familiar acquaintance, a quiet outsider, an old friend, and a new flame . . .