Happy Pride! This month, I’m sending love to those that are out and proud, those finding their safe spaces to explore themselves, those still figuring it out, and everyone in between. I’ve rounded up a few books I’ve read or plan to read that I think showcase the varied experiences someone can have in life.
Please note, I do identify as she/her and as straight, so please support LGBTQ creators and authors as much as possible this month!
one | Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Aristotle and Dante don’t fit in. Aristotle is angry at the world, and Dante is a know-it-all. But when the two meet at the pool one summer, an instant friendship is created. Together, the two discover everything together, including the most important truth about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. A staple YA book that explores identity at arguable the most crucial time in a young kid’s life.
two | You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
Imagine telling your mother you’re queer, and her responding with, “You exist too much.” That’s exactly what happens to Arafat’s protagonist in this gripping story about cultural, religious, and sexual identities. This book follows a girl from the Middle East to the US as she discovers who she really is by unfolding her traumas and reflecting on the places and things that helped form her.
three | Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Reese, Ames, and Katrina are about to enter into a very complicated relationship. Reese and Ames were together when Ames was Amy. He decided to detransition to a live as a man to make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese, his only family. When Katrina, Ames’s boss and lover finds out she’s pregnant with Ames’s child, he wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for to have it all with Reese. Could they be a family together?
four | How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang
Lucy and Sam only have each other now. After their father, Ba, passes away, they have must trek across the western dessert that promised gold to bury him. Told across three timelines, How Much of These Hills is Gold is a gripping story about Asian American immigrants during the gold rush, family, and adventure. Sure to break your heart in unexpected ways, this book is one of a kind.
five | Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Alex is the First Son of the United States — his mom is the President — and Henry is the Prince of England. They are sworn enemies, until one day they have to pretend to be best friends to save face after toppling a wedding cake at the royal wedding. What originally starts as a forced friendship, blossoms into a full-on love affair. This was a wonderful young adult romance that helped highlight other types of love stories for teens to look up to.
six | Patsy by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn
Patsy knows her future is in America. Her best friend Cicely moved there years ago, and she can’t help but think better things are waiting for her across the ocean in New York. The only thing is, she has to leave her daughter, Tru, behind with her father in Jamaica. When Patsy lands in New York, nothing is the way she thought it would be — Cicely is married to a horrible man, finding a job without papers is nearly impossible, and she can’t even muster up the courage to call her daughter. Told in alternating perspectives from Patsy and Tru, this book is one immigrant’s story about figuring out what the American dream really is.
seven | The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
The Great Believers takes place in 1985-1991 Chicago as well as 2015 Paris. The LGBTQ community of Chicago is experiencing a genocide. AIDS has taken hold of the community, and it is ripping apart families and friendships. Makkai follows Yale’s story in Chicago and Fiona’s story in Paris. Both stories feature the idea of lost love, lost family, and lost time in totally different ways. Fiona is a key character throughout the Chicago timeline as well as the Paris timeline, and as a reader, you can’t help but love and hate her at the same time. Even though you go into this story knowing there probably isn’t any hope, you still cling to it — hoping the best for the boys who you know too well are going to most likely end up as corpses. Makkai has a few tricks up her sleeve and crafts a beautiful story of love, loss, redemption, and friendship. This is a must read.
eight | All My Mother’s Lovers: A Novel by Ilana Masad
When Maggie Krause finds her mother’s old letters addressed to mysterious people after her mother’s untimely death, her world is further shattered. On a road trip to hand-deliver these letters she found, Maggie learns more about her mother than she ever expected. A story about family, grief, and identity, All My Mother’s Lovers promises to be a fulfilling read.
nine | They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Mateo and Rufus live in a world where they know the exact day, but not moment, they are going to die. The two teenagers meet each other on their End Days with the help of the app “Last Friend.” Through their adventures together and a handful of cameo characters, readers get a strong understanding of fate, connection, and living life to the fullest.
ten | Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
Call Me By Your Name is a story about a boy falling in love with a summer guest at his parent’s cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Neither are prepared for the sudden attraction, but both fall victim to the building passion and desire within themselves. Described as a “frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy,” Call Me By Your Name is an unforgettable story.