June and Pride Month ended, but Pride is not something that only exists for one month a year. For some, it’s part of their everyday lives, whether the media and companies pay them attention (for commercial or other reasons) or not. I’m not part of the LGBTQ+ community, but I know people who are. Recent events in my country pissed me off enough to want to keep the Pride Nights at Queen’s series going on for at least one more month. And as my government especially tries to block children and young adults from learning about different identities and genders, I definitely wanted to include a list of books for that age group.
That being said, today we welcome S. Kaeth representing Indie Story Geek, who shares with us a list of MG and YA novels with LGBTQ+ representation. Because it doesn’t matter how old you are, everyone has the right to explore their own identity and gender, and what can be better for that than books?
(To learn more about the situation in Hungary and Poland, check out Bjorn’s guest post if you missed it, who expressed things much better than I ever could.)
Indie Story Geek is a project by indie author S. Kaeth and her computer programmer husband, with the goal of helping connect readers with amazing indie stories. Indie Story Geek is a place to highlight amazing indie books, whether they are self-published, web serials, or published by small presses. Since the reader experience can be so subjective, we’ve broken down the reading experience into eight different criteria using Kriti Khare’s system from Armed With a Book. Anyone can submit a story for review. When reviewers submit their review, they can optionally include a link back to their full review on their own blog.
Stories are powerful, and we’ve been telling stories for as long as humans have existed. They help us process the world and they help us imagine a better one. There’s a special kind of empowerment that happens when a reader sees themselves in a character, which is one reason why diversity is so badly needed in publishing.
Indie authors—whether from small presses or self-published—can sometimes tell stories that show even more diversity. Even middle grade readers are beginning to wonder about the feelings of attraction they have. Middle grade and young adult LGBTQ books absolutely have a place in the market, but there aren’t many books that have been traditionally published that show this representation. And no one should feel alone. So today, I give you a short list to get you started on just a few of the indie books out there with LGBTQ+ representation for MG and YA audiences.
Chase: The Boy Who Hid by Z Jeffries
Don’t hide from your feelings. Hide from the giant robot trying to kill you.
I always knew I’d inherited my grandad’s mind for science and technology, but when he goes missing, I get his spot in a top-secret government game of hide and seek. The military camouflage challenge, DARPA’s game where shapeshifters, mechs, and telepaths hide from a robot seeker, is also where Grandad vanished.
To find out what happened, I’ll play along- gain the team’s trust, master the tech, and avoid catching feelings for the team navigator. If I can do all that, then maybe I can survive the dangerous game. But if it comes down to winning or finding Grandad, I’ll ditch the game and betray my team in a millisecond. Even if it means I go missing, too.
Book One in the Hide & Seek Series, the action-packed coming of age stories of STEM-minded queer kids getting their hands on the tech of the future.
Heir to the Darkmage by Lisa Cassidy
Ambition drives her. Danger thrills her. But magic always has a price.
Twenty years have passed since the Darkmage was destroyed and the war between mages ended. For Lira Astor, the single living heir to the Darkmage, escaping her name is impossible. People still fear what is long dead, and they see in her the rise of another dangerous mage with deadly ambition. Desperate to claw her way free of her grandfather’s shadow, to make her own name amongst the world of mages, Lira is willing to do whatever it takes. Even if that means joining the secretive rebel group looking to restore his vision.
Survival is a lesson Lira learned early and often, yet when she is abducted and held prisoner in a deadly game of cat and mouse, she finds herself facing a nemesis she may be no match for. Forced to band together with unlikely allies who challenge everything she believes about what it means to be a mage, she will have to rely on every bit of ruthlessness she possesses.
Because the war may only just be beginning…
…and Lira Astor intends to come out on top.
LOVE HIM/HATE HIM by Chris Bedell
17-year-old Connor doesn’t believe his best friend’s death was an accident. Falling down the stairs was random, and Connor can’t help but wonder if someone might’ve pushed her… Determined to find out the truth, Connor starts his own investigation. Along the way, he discovers Evelyn’s affair with a married man and thought she was pregnant before she died. Connor thinks he’s found her killer, but an airtight alibi forces him to look in a new direction. Perhaps closer to home. Complicating the situation more is Connor’s own secret – an unexpected hook up with Evelyn’s twin brother, Liam, at a party the previous spring. Afterward, Liam goes on a homophobic rant and punches Connor, leaving him confused. His confusion deepens when, after Evelyn’s death, Liam apologizes and they start to hook up secretly. Liam is trapped between his attraction to Connor and his abusive father. Connor struggles with his growing attraction for Liam. Their secret rendezvous are fun, but if Connor is going to have more with Liam, he’ll have to be honest about his feelings and his suspicions on who killed Evelyn. Will either survive the truth coming out?
Never Do a Wrong Thing by Marcus Herzig
Best friends since kindergarten, best friends forever. That was the plan. High school sophomores Tim and Tom know everything there is to know about each other … or at least they should, but Tim has a secret that could change everything he doesn’t want to see changed. Tim is gay and almost ready to be out and proud. Tom is already proud—a proud homophobe, that is. As if the stakes were not high enough already, things get even more complicated when Tom talks his friend into double-dating a pair of girls. But sometimes unwanted challenges offer unexpected opportunities, and after the most embarrassing night of his life, Tim knows he can no longer avoid the inevitable. The question is, how will his best friend take it? From the author of Cupid Painted Blind comes a captivating new Young Adult LGBTQ novel that provides insight into the conflicted soul of a teenage boy who finds himself torn between honesty and friendship.
Boy Wizard by Cameron James
Leon’s just like every other teenager, he’s trying to figure out algebra, hide spots that pop up all too often, and still tongue tied around pretty girls – and boys all the while training to be a fully fledged Wizard. Sure everybody goes through puberty, but not everyone goes through a puberty like this and with Leon’s hormones sending his magic and his emotions haywire, whispers of a fairy hunter on the loose and a full moon approaching, Leon’s training is about to be kicked into overdrive.
The Hidden King by E.G. Radcliff
Hidden truths. Hidden power. Hidden destiny. On the shores of a rusty sea, in the streets of a starving city, a young man named Áed scraps to build a life for himself and the makeshift family he loves. Scarred by a trauma he cannot remember, and haunted by the brutal damage it left behind, he has no idea of the courage his future will demand. When tragedy strikes, a desperate Áed risks a treacherous, life-changing journey in his last chance to save the only family he has left – but an ancient legacy smoldering within him is about to turn deadly. Neither he – nor a kingdom – will ever be the same.
A Million Little Souls by Chase Connor
In the last two weeks of the school year, four teenagers check out books from the Long-Moore High School Library. Mrs. Clark, the high school librarian, says she has never seen the books before. They must have been shelved incorrectly because all of the books are from the city public library. Entrusting the teens to return the books to their rightful home once they are done, she lets them check out the books. Inside of each, the teens learn, is an invitation to attend a special event—one that only happens every 25 years. You have been selected. Your presence is requested at 7 pm on the 5th. Tell no one. Come alone. Otherwise, your invitation will be invalidated. Cordially, The Librarian. Though all of them think better of it, one by one, they all arrive at the City Public Library alone, ready to attend this mysterious event the messages in the books conveyed. As the night unfolds, they find themselves locked inside the dark building all alone, with nothing to do but wait for dawn. But are they alone? Or is there something more than books inside the library…? Get to know each other… Take a stroll through time… Reach a higher plane… Go by the numbers… Respect the books.
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Check out all of the Pride Nights at Queen’s posts HERE!