June is Pride Month, and what better way is there to celebrate than by reading books?
These 2019 titles are all coming-of-age stories that explore the depths we go for those we love — romantically or otherwise — and act as great reminders for how much we can grow when we set our sights on becoming the most loving and accepting versions of ourselves as possible.
In the graphic novel “Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me” (First Second Books, 2019) by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Laura Dean is Freddy’s dream girl — beautiful, popular, charismatic — and despite the fact that Laura Dean keeps breaking up with her, Freddy can’t help caving in every time she wants to get back together.
When Laura Dean breaks up with her for the third time, Freddy decides to write to Anna Vice, an advice column, and at her best friend Doodle’s recommendation, goes to a psychic. Though the psychic advises Freddy to figure out how to end the relationship, Freddy finds herself getting back together with Laura Dean yet again.
This time around, Freddy is so desperate to keep Laura Dean around that she starts blowing off her friends so she can be available whenever she wants to get together.
When Doodle starts having problems of her own, Freddy is so wrapped up in her drama that she doesn’t even notice when her best friend starts to spiral. Will Freddy be able to unravel her toxic romance in time to save her friendships?
“The Music of What Happens” (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019) by Bill Konigsberg introduces us to Max and Jordan. They could not be more different. Max is laid back, athletic, confident and comfortable with his sexuality. Jordan is high-strung, quietly creative and convinced he’ll never find Mr. Right.
There’s no reason for the two boys to mix until Max ends up getting a job helping Jordan run his family’s rundown food truck, Coq Au Vinny. There, the two have to contend with the fact that neither of them know how to run a food truck — and on top of that, Max and Jordan have issues to work through.
Max is processing what happened between him and an older boy at the beginning of the summer, and Jordan is having trouble taking care of his mother, which is the promise he made to his father before he died. During the course of the summer, Max and Jordan help each other face their fears, open up and learn how to let themselves grow.
“Kiss Number 8” (First Second Books, 2019) by Colleen Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw is a graphic novel set in the year 2004, where instant messaging and flip phones reigned supreme.
Amanda has two best friends. One is her wild and unpredictable friend Cat, whose affinity for boys, dance clubs and adventure makes hanging out with her endlessly exciting. The other is her father, with whom she enjoys attending minor league baseball games, watching their favorite TV shows and playing video games.
This year, Cat has made it a goal to convince Amanda to loosen up and find a boyfriend or two. This plan doesn’t work out because Amanda is much more interested in kissing Cat than she is in finding a boyfriend. When people start catching on to that fact, Amanda’s entire world changes.
On top of all of that, Amanda also finds out that her father has been keeping a huge family secret from her. When she finally finds out the truth, Amanda learns a little bit more about who she is, and becomes more accepting of the world and people around her.
• For more young adult titles with LGBTQIA+ themes, try “Bloom” (First Second Books, 2019) by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau, “Birthday” (Flatiron Books, 2019) by Meredith Russo, or “This is Kind of an Epic Love Story” (Balzer + Bray, 2018) by Kheryn Callender.
Whether you are an ally or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, celebrate the wealth of diversity, love and acceptance the world of young adult fiction has to offer by reading some great LGBTQIA+ titles. Happy reading, and happy Pride Month.