By Rhys Wright, Becca Binnie and Rosie Green
As the weather gets warmer… or perhaps not.
Going into summer, rain or shine, an uplifting LGBTQIA+ inclusive book is what we recommend to bring some positivity to your shelf! It is important that we can see heart-warming, hopeful and confident LGBTQIA+ representation that could help readers who may need support or reassurance, but also titles that readers can relax and enjoy. We hope you find our recommendations suitable for both!
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
For any lover of Sophie Gonzales’ Perfect on Paper (or YA romances more generally), Only Mostly Devastated is the heart-warming queer take on Grease you never knew you needed.
Ollie can’t believe that his whirlwind summer romance is over. After getting abruptly ghosted by Will, the handsome and charming summer fling he’s still convinced is far too out of his league, he’s ready to head home to California and start a new year. But fate has other ideas. Instead, his family stays in North Carolina to care for his sick aunt, leaving him to attend the same school as Will, who’s still closeted and gives him the cold shoulder.
Like Gonzales’ other novels, Only Mostly Devastated is full of joyous and uplifting representations of queer love and growing up without shying away from the awkwardness and hardships of adolescence. Ollie’s narration really puts you into the headspace of an overdramatic, lovestruck teen who thinks his every awkward social interaction is practically world-ending and feels his first love and heartbreak even more intensely. His emotional highs and lows and the vibrant supporting cast make for a delightful read.
Proud of Me by Sarah Hagger-Holt
Proud of Me is a middle-grade, coming-of-age fiction work by Sarah Hagger-Holt that you won’t want to miss! Published by Usborne in 2021, the story follows twelve-year-old siblings Becky and Josh. With an anonymous donor father, Becky and Josh are born eight days apart to their two mums and have been raised like twins.
When Becky and Josh begin to drift apart, they must explore the thoughts troubling them. Josh yearns to learn more about his donor dad and Becky is confused over feelings that crop up for the new girl at school, Carli. Things get tough for Becky when Carli’s parents want the LGBTQIA+ club at school banned. All Josh and Becky want is for their mums to be proud of them, but they come to realise self-acceptance is the first step. Coming to a head at their mum’s fiftieth birthday party, Sarah Hagger-Holt’s book is a heart-warming story of friendship, love and relationships.
Proud of Me is funny and honest; it depicts an everyday LGBTQIA+ family story whilst inspiring important conversations and encouraging readers to share their problems and worries. As Becky and Josh start at secondary school, they learn about change and growing up this is conveyed with dual alternate narration that is both hopeful and authentic.
This beautifully inclusive book is helpful, positive and encouraging whilst also being delightfully candid. It is the perfect edition to uplift your bookshelf!
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Calling all fans of Becky Albertalli’s hit novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens! Leah on the Offbeat is the third instalment of Albertalli’s ‘Creekwood’ series and follows Leah Burke. Leah nails every beat at the drum kit, but it is real life she finds a little harder to manage. Leah is too self-conscious to show people how much she loves to draw, and she definitely hasn’t mustered up the courage to come out as bisexual to her friends. Not even to her best friend Simon, who happens to be openly gay.
So yeah, Leah is finding life a little hard to navigate right now. Things only feel more uneasy when her friendship group, who she thought were unshakeable, starts to fracture. As prom nears and talk of college gets louder, Leah can feel the tension when the people she loves start to fight. Oh, and Leah might also have realised she loves one person a whole lot more than she intended.
Read along as Leah navigates teenage life whilst she learns to embrace her confidence and come to terms with her feelings and the changes that are happening.
Becky Albertalli is a refreshing voice in LGBTQIA+ Young Adult literature. She depicts teenage struggle and growth without forgetting the awkwardness of being a young person. The successful film adaptation of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens (named Love, Simon) adds to Albertalli’s admirable reputation. Explore Leah’s story in the heartfelt and honest Leah on the Offbeat!
Just Like Everyone Else by Sarah Hagger-Holt
Just Like Everyone Else was released in June 2023, and is Sarah Hagger-Holt’s third book for children, and like her other books, it explores the experience of being LGBTQIA+ within the family in an accessible and inclusive middle-grade story.
The book centres around Ade, a thirteen-year-old boy from a working-class family in Sheffield, who already feels lost and unable to breathe in the chaos of his big and busy family, when two more people enter his life to shake things up even more. The arrival of husbands Justin and Atif suddenly seem to threaten Ade’s plan to fit in at all costs as his mum offers to become a surrogate for them. He panics that their proximity throws a spotlight on him and on a secret that he isn’t ready to expose yet – that he, like them, is gay.
Struggling with his identity, scared about his mum’s pregnancy and worried about his best friend’s bullying, Ade finds that even running can’t solve his problems, and he has to decide whether fitting in is worth his relationships with his friends, his family and himself.
With relatable characters and honest emotional exploration about family and the fear of coming out even in an accepting environment, Just Like Everyone Else is a tender and hopeful read that encourages compassion and understanding in readers of any age.