YA Pride: 2012 LGBT YA Books, April-June

Every Friday in June, I'll be listing the YA novels first published in the United States in 2012 that include LGBT main characters. Today I'm covering books published in the second quarter: April-June. Check out books published in January-March here; and look for July-September next week, followed by October-December the last week of June. If you haven't already read my disclaimers/explanations about how I compiled these lists, you can read them here. Meanwhile, please don't forget that I have not read the vast majority of these titles, and inclusion on this list does not mean that I personally endorse them. I make no guarantees of quality here; I'm only listing the LGBT YA titles published in 2012.

Enjoy browsing the lists!


Radiant Days By Elizabeth Hand Publisher: Viking (Penguin)

Publisher's Description: It is 1978. Merle is in her first year at the Corcoran School of Art, catapulted from her impoverished Appalachian upbringing into a sophisticated, dissipated art scene. It is also 1870. The teenage poet Arthur Rimbaud is on the verge of breaking through to the images and voice that will make his name. The meshed power of words and art thins the boundaries between the present and the past—and allows these two troubled, brilliant artists to enter each other's worlds. Radiant Days is a peerless follow-up to Elizabeth Hand's unforgettable, multiple-starred Illyria.

Collide By J.R. Lenk Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Publisher's Description: Being bisexual is cool now—unless you’re a boy. Or so it seems to invisible fifteen-year-old Hazard James. But when he falls in with bad apple Jesse Wesley, Hazard is suddenly shoved into the spotlight. Jesse and his friends introduce him to the underworld of teenage life: house parties, hangovers, the advantages of empty homes, and reputation by association. So what if his old friends don’t get it? So what if some people love to hate him? Screw gossip and high school’s secret rules. There’s just something about walking into a room and having all eyes on him when just last year nobody noticed him at all. For a while Hazard basks in the attention, and before he realizes the depth of the waters he’s wading, he and Jesse strike up a “friends with benefits” routine. It could be something more, but what self-respecting teenage boy would admit it? Not Jesse—and so not Hazard, either. Not until it’s too late. Hazard and Jesse have collided, and Hazard’s life will never be the same.

Gone, Gone, Gone By Hannah Moskowitz Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster)

Publisher's Description: It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.

Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him...and if he’ll do it again...and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.

Lio feels most alive when he's with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable...and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It) By Julie Anne Peters Publisher: Little, Brown

Publisher's Description: When Azure's principal gives her the chance to turn the school's traditional (and boring) senior prom into an event that will appeal to everyone, not just the jocks and cheerleaders, she jumps at the opportunity. Soon Azure manages to convince her best friends, Luke and Radhika, to join the prom committee as well.

Facing heavy opposition and admittedly clueless about prom logistics, the three friends are nonetheless determined to succeed — if Luke's and Azure's secret crushes on Radhika don't push the committee members, and their friendships, to the breaking point first.

Told in two voices and filled with comical missed connections, It's Our Prom (So Deal With It) explores the ups and downs of planning an alternative prom — while dealing with an unrequited crush on your best friend — and shines with National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters's unmistakable wit and insight.

Way to Go By Tom Ryan Publisher: Orca

Publisher's Description: Kierce has a rule for everything, not to mention his whole future planned out. Jay has bad grades, no plans, and could care less. As for Danny, he’s stuck somewhere in the middle and can’t stop stressing out about it. His dad keeps nagging him about his post-high school plans, his friends won’t stop bugging him about girls, and a run-in with the cops means he has to to get a summer job — about the last thing he had planned. Worst of all, the secret he’s been keeping for years is threatening to spill out into the open.

Just when he’s beginning to wonder how he’ll get through the summer, let alone survive another year in Deep Cove, Danny meets Lisa Walsh. Lisa is dynamic, beautiful, and different from any girl he’s ever known. She’s also from New York City, which is about as far from Deep Cove as the dark side of the moon. For the first time in a while, things begin to look like they might turn out all right after all — that is, if friends, family, and reality don’t get in the way.


Boys of Summer Edited by Steve Berman Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Publisher's Description: Walt Whitman referred to a "Mad, naked, Summer Night!" In the pages of Boys of Summer, acclaimed editor Steve Berman's latest anthology, talented authors and fresh voices reveal the allure and excitement of the season for gay teens. June always promises romance. July entices with its raw heat, and August offers a languid fire that will burn out before autumn's approach. These are stories of young love and adventure, when the sky's ceiling is a bright blue marvel, when another boy's laughter at the beach can distract from dull summer jobs.

Happy Families By Tanita S. Davis Publisher: Knopf (Random House)

Publisher's Description: Teenage twins Ysabel and Justin Nicholas are lucky. Ysabel's jewelry designs have already caught the eyes of the art world and Justin's intelligence and drive are sure to gain him entrance into the most prestigious of colleges. They even like their parents. But their father has a secret-one that threatens to destroy the twins' happy family and life as they know it.

Over the course of spring break, Ysabel and Justin will be forced to come to terms with their dad's new life, but can they overcome their fears to piece together their happy family again?

The Thunder in His Head By Gene Gant Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Publisher's Description: Kyle Manning is a tall, strong, openly gay sixteen-year-old who makes decent grades and plays on his school’s basketball team. He’s a good kid who cares deeply about his family and friends. But his life has become a mess. His mom, Lela, has finally had enough of her husband Joe’s serial cheating. Kyle’s parents are headed for divorce, and the collapse of their marriage torments him.

Divorcing parents is bad enough, but Kyle also has to deal with new people in his parents’ lives. He likes Stephanie, his father’s girlfriend, but he finds himself increasingly attracted to his mother’s handsome boyfriend, Reece. As Kyle struggles with his fear and frustration, he grows angrier and more erratic.

Then he meets Dwight Varley, a buff, attractive athlete from another school who takes an instant liking to him. Having Dwight around doesn’t solve all Kyle’s problems, but it does make life more bearable. As their relationship develops, Dwight becomes a bright oasis in Kyle’s harried life. But Dwight’s life is more complicated than Kyle ever imagined, and just when things start to get better, Kyle discovers the truth about Dwight—and about his father.

Kiss the Morning Star By Elissa Janine Hoole Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Publisher's Description: When Anna sets out on a post high school road trip toward an unknown destination with best friend Kat, she thinks she's prepared for everything. Clipboard in hand, she checks off her lists: Set up tent. Study maps. Avoid bears. Feelings are not on any list. For the past year - ever since her mother's sudden death - Anna has shut down her emotions and shut out the people who love her most.

Kat is a different story. Clutching a well-worn copy of Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, she radiates enthusiasm. Maybe, she thinks, this road trip will shake Anna back to life. Zigzaging across the Northwest, the girls encounter fellow travelers of all kinds. But throughout their journey, one question haunts Anna. It begins like a gentle rain and then becomes a raging storm: What place does Kat have in my life? Are we good friends? Or something more.

37 Things I Love (in no particular order) By Kekla Magoon Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan)

Publisher's Description: Ellis only has four days of her sophomore year left, and summer is so close that she can almost taste it. But even with vacation just within reach, Ellis isn’t exactly relaxed. Her father has been in a coma for years, the result of a construction accident, and her already-fragile relationship with her mother is strained over whether or not to remove him from life support. Her best friend fails even to notice that anything is wrong and Ellis feels like her world is falling apart. But when all seems bleak, Ellis finds comfort in the most unexpected places.

Life goes on, but in those four fleeting days friends are lost and found, promises are made, and Ellis realizes that nothing will ever quite be the same.

The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to their Younger Selves Edited by Sarah Moon with contributing editor James Lecesne Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)

Publisher's Description: This book was conceived as part of the response to a spate of suicides among LGBT youth that revealed how vulnerable and isolated these teens often still are. The popularity of the "It Gets Better" You-Tube campaign shows how badly needed are messages that tell LGBT teenagers that they will be ok if they just hang on. THE LETTER Q takes this one step further by moving beyond the simple platitude of "it gets better" to tell a deeper and more personal story for each of its contributors. Each letter is like a tightly focused biography, where the writer reveals an aspect of his or herself that speaks to the heart of what's important to LGBT teens. With moving stories from contributors such as Brian Selznick, Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom, David Levithan, and Rakesh Satyal, this is a book that should be available to every LGBT kid coming of age today, and fans of this stellar list of authors.

The Winter Garden and Other Stories By Hayden Thorne Publisher: Queerteen Press

Publisher's Description: Strange music from a legendary haunted glade can only be heard by a special boy. A grieving young man turns to the dark arts to bring his deceased lover back. A soiled and tired knight protects the innocent from the threat of a dragon. Young love blooms in a desolate garden.

Familiar and original fairy tales, myths, and legends explore the complexities in a gay teen’s coming-of-age through allegory and metaphor. Rain-drenched circuses, old wives’ tales involving candles in windows, water-irises deep in a wood, lonely fairy kings, and magical Christmas parties not only present valuable lessons, but also provide an escape into worlds in which a gay teen can see himself as the amazing, resilient hero of adventures and romance.


Seidman By James Erich Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Publisher's Description: In Viking Age Iceland, where boys are expected to grow into strong farmers and skilled warriors, there is little place for a sickly twelve-year-old boy like Kol until he catches the eye of a seið-woman—a sorceress—and becomes her apprentice. Kol travels to the sorceress’s home, where her grandson, Thorbrand, takes Kol under his wing. Before long Kol discovers something else about himself that is different—something else that sets him apart as unmanly: Kol has fallen in love with another boy. But the world is changing in ways that threaten those who practice the ancient arts. As Kol’s new life takes him across the Norse lands, he finds that a new religion is sweeping through them, and King Olaf Tryggvason is hunting down and executing sorcerers. When a decades-old feud forces Thorbrand to choose between Kol and his duty to his kinsman, Kol finds himself cast adrift with only the cryptic messages of an ancient goddess to guide him to his destiny—and possibly to his death.

Pretty Little Liars #11: Stunning By Sara Shepard Publisher: HarperTeen

Publisher's Description: In Rosewood, Pennsylvania, four stunningly beautiful girls are haunted by a very ugly past. Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily want nothing more than to forget Alison DiLaurentis, their former best friend who tried to ruin their lives. But someone refuses to let her memory die. A is still out there, lurking in the shadows and digging up the pretty little liars' newest secrets.

Emily's reconnecting with an old flame, one baby step at a time. But is she headed toward true love or another bundle of heartache? Spencer's learning about the highs and lows of campus life on a trip to Princeton. Aria's seeing a whole new side to Noel's dad—and it could drive a wedge between her and Noel. And, for better or worse, Hanna's getting in touch with her inner A.

Secret by secret, lie by lie, the girls get tangled in A's dangerous web. A knows about everything, from their tiniest transgressions to the awful incident in Jamaica. Soon A will have enough ammunition to pull the trigger and end the pretty little liars, once and for all. . . .

Down to the Bone (Author's Edition) By Mayra Lazara Dole Publisher: Bella Books

Publisher's Description: When Shai receives text messages from Marlena, the love of her life, and reads them during class, her dramatic mother finds out what her A-student daughter’s been doing behind her back and kicks her to the curb.

Soon Shai becomes involved with an unusual group of friends in exotic Miami. Can a discarded free-thinker turn the corner into a world as wild, hilarious, and painful as her first love—and create a new kind of family?

Notes: This is an expanded Author's Edition paperback reprint of the original hardcover, first published by HarperCollins in 2008. According to Bella Books, this Author's Edition "has been substantially altered with more than 20% of the original content expanded or revised."

Being Emily By Rachel Gold Publisher: Bella Books

Publisher's Description: They say that whoever you are it’s okay, you were born that way. Those words don’t comfort Emily, because she was born Christopher and her insides know that her outsides are all wrong.

They say that it gets better, be who you are and it’ll be fine. For Emily, telling her parents who she really is means a therapist who insists Christopher is normal and Emily is sick. Telling her girlfriend means lectures about how God doesn’t make that kind of mistake.

Emily desperately wants high school in her small Minnesota town to get better. She wants to be the woman she knows is inside, but it’s not until a substitute therapist and a girl named Natalie come into her life that she believes she has a chance of actually Being Emily.

A story for anyone who has ever felt that the inside and outside don’t match and no one else will understand...

Fair Catch By Del Darcy Publisher: Torquere Press/Prizm

Publisher's Description: When Blake Thompson meets Alex Ayers, his rival on the football field, the attraction is instant. For one tumultuous high school season, their teams clash as they fall in love.

Playing for the Mustangs, Blake works to carve out a place for himself in the always-frustrating role of backup quarterback. He tries to put out of his mind how unlikely it is that someone like him -- a little too short, from a backwater town -- could make it in college football.

Alex is now with the rival Patriots, poised to add to his string of records in placekicking. His family has bounced from town to town across the Midwest, spending barely a year in any one place because of his dad's construction jobs. The college scouts are starting to notice Alex, and a bright future in football beckons.

Blake is able to put aside his feeling that he's just trailing in Alex's wake, overshadowed by Alex's star quality, until Alex gets a scholarship to a prestigious Texas school.

Will jealousy destroy Blake's regard for his boyfriend? Can Alex learn to settle down and trust someone, despite his vagabond life? If he leaves, what becomes of their love affair?