10 Queer YA Fiction Recommendations for Summer Reading


Young Adult (YA) novels have always been some of my favourite books to read. Sometimes I’ve pretended that my book choices have been for the sake of research, since I’ve always been involved in youth work with teenagers, but the truth is I genuinely love this genre. I love the intensity of the drama, I love the character development, and I love the ability to tell diverse stories for real human teens. So naturally when I was coming out at the age of 30, I delved heavily into YA media with queer representation. I’ve tried to keep up with the new stuff, although over even the past 5 years, there has been so much more than ever before.

Last summer, our intern Lyds and an amazing volunteer, Jeanette, worked hard to help me annotate the books that we had read and add them to our “Youth and Children” library section. As we created this bibliography, we asked for suggestions and reviews from youth in our online GS group, but never fully highlighted this sweet resource until now. What better time than August to narrow down some choices for your summer reading? Here are our top 10 choices for YA fiction with LGBTQ+ representation. 

Note: The books below represent a wide variety of queer and racial identities, and are recommended to diverse age groups within the “Youth/YA” category. Some of the books deal with heavy themes and content, so please watch for trigger warnings. 

10. I’ll Give You the Sun

Jandy Nelson

The point of view in I’ll Give You the Sun pivots between two twins – Jude and Noah – who were once as close as best friends, but grew apart to the point of not speaking. As the story jumps between voices and time, we begin to piece together the whole story, and realize the importance of multiple perspectives outside of our own. This novel has been a favourite among many of the avid queer youth/YA fiction fans in our community.

I.W. Gregorio

This was the first novel I ever came across that featured an intersex character. Since reading None of the Above, I have made a list of a handful of others, but it remains a unique and necessary story of Krissy, a 17-year-old who discovers she is intersex at her first pap smear. Gregorio, the author of this novel, is a surgeon who wanted to represent an intersex experience and educate youth and YA about sex, gender, and the existence of intersex community and resources. This book does exactly that without losing its narrative flow. Trigger warnings for some very serious betrayal, sexism, misogyny, and transphobia.

Kirsten Cronn-Mills

Gabe is a trans boy who only presents his true self on radio airwaves, so it makes sense that his story of self-discovery, friendship, fandom, and discrimination is woven together through musical analogies and references. It’s refreshing to not only have trans teen representation, but also a lead character who is a hopeful role model for young readers of every gender.

Misa Sugiura

This is a fast and easy read; it’s an adorable romance that also manages to explore a number of important themes such as sexuality, fidelity, racism, identity, and family. The characters in this novel strike a balance between flawed and loveable, inviting readers to see themselves also as loveable people with different perspectives who make horrible mistakes.