Alyssa's Staff Pick
A thrilling fantasy adventure rooted in West African and Igbo history and mythology that celebrates the family, friendships, discoveries, and triumphs of a Black boy from Atlanta magically transported to Chidani — a fabled country under threat and in need of a hero. Fans of Tristan Strong and Aru Shah will love Cameron Battle! - Alyssa
Big-hearted, electrifying, and triumphant, Phil Stamper's middle-grade debut is a love letter to small town queer kids — and to anyone feeling out of place and longing to escape — that reminds and inspires us to find courage, acceptance, and hope right where we are. - Alyssa
A love letter to gay, nonbinary, artistic teens and to every reader who has ever been plagued with shame, self-loathing, anxiety, and depression. Joyful, heartbreaking, and tender, AND THEY LIVED... is an empowering, heartwarming story of true belonging, first love, and self-love. Queer, sex-positive, and body-positive, this is exactly the kind of coming-of-age novel and real-world fairytale romance we need. - Alyssa
In Salvatore's heartfelt and inspiring debut, musically talented, genderqueer Carey Parker must defend themselves against queerphobia and discrimination when they are cast as the traditionally female lead in their high school musical. With its rallying cries of #LetCareySing and #WeWillNotBeSilenced, CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY is a necessary and timely call to action—encouraging us to raise our voices and rise up against injustices. - Alyssa
Emery Lee's #ownvoices debut offers a fresh twist on popular romance tropes. MEET CUTE DIARY celebrates trans and nonbinary teens, exploring the complexities of love, joy, friendship, family, identity, and authenticity. It asks tough questions about what it means to be true to ourselves and to others. Who are we and what do we want...in real life vs. in our dreams and on social media? Relatable, timely, and thought-provoking, this is the perfect coming-of-age story and rom-com for our times. -Alyssa
At once heartbreaking and hilarious, Reyes' debut brilliantly captures the challenges and joys of finding love and acceptance as a Mexican American and queer teen navigating a mostly White Catholic high school. It's funny, sharp, and relatable, with characters you'll root for! - Alyssa
Riley Mayes is such a relatable, delightful character! This graphic novel portrays her experiences of school, family, friendships, and identity with the perfect amount of humor, honesty, and heartbreak. Highly recommended. - Alyssa
The Black Flamingo, a coming-of-age novel-in-verse, is fast-paced, immersive, emotional, and inspirational. Michael, a British boy of Greek Cypriot and Jamaican descent, grapples with issues of race, sexuality, gender, and identity. His painful -- yet fiercely hopeful -- journey to discover who he is, what he stands for, and how he fits in will especially resonate with readers who feel caught between worlds and are struggling to find the courage, resilience, and self-empowerment to define themselves on their own terms. - Alyssa
Ashley Woodfolk beautifully captures the fierce passion and pain of messy queer love. NOTHING BURNS AS BRIGHT AS YOU is a triumphant novel-in-verse — right up there with THE POET X, WHITE ROSE, THE BLACK FLAMINGO, and HOME IS NOT A COUNTRY. - Alyssa
Stay Gold is a classic boy-meets-girl rom-com with a refreshing twist. Here "the new guy" and "the cheerleader" who start to fall for each other on their first day of senior year are not stereotypical characters. Pony is a transgender guy who is living stealth at his new school; and Georgia wants to do more than cheer and date a jock, but she fears risking her popularity. Their struggles with how to be true to themselves and to others is explored in great depth -- and with lots of humor -- through their alternating first-person narratives. McSmith's debut is a great choice for readers of Becky Albertalli, Jenny Han, and David Levithan. -Alyssa
Full of raw emotion and trans rage, this book tackles heavy topics like genocide in the name of religious zealotry, transphobia, and abusive relationships.
Benji joined a cult that wiped out the world's population with a bioweapon when he was a preteen. But when he comes out as transgender, the Christian community he's raised in won't accept him. Benji soon realizes that maybe becoming a monster is the only way to free himself of the beliefs that hold him captive.
This book sunk its fangs in and did not let me go until the final page. -Jessi
Thirty years after THELMA & LOUISE, Julia Lynn Rubin brings us TROUBLE GIRLS. This #MeToo-era road-trip thriller and queer love story about high schoolers turned fugitives is fierce, beautifully written, and thought-provoking, full of heartbreak, rage, resilience, and joy. Their search for freedom is so real, so immersive, you'll feel like you're on the road with Trixie and Lux — and believe me, you don't want to miss this getaway! -Alyssa
This captivating debut is a sweet summer romance taking place at an ice cream shop, plus so much more. It stars a demisexual Métis teen struggling with confusion, intergenerational trauma, complex family and friendship dynamics, and racism. Her journey to self-discovery and self-acceptance is messy and inspiring. Grab a pint of your favorite flavor and dive in! - Alyssa
AS FAR AS YOU'LL TAKE ME is a profound and relatable coming-of-age story about leaving home for the first time in search of true belonging. When closeted, socially anxious, oboe-playing Marty Pierce flees his small Kentucky hometown for London, he reinvents himself—finding a LGBTQ-friendly community of musicians and having a meet-cute with a guy coincidentally named Pierce. Stamper's follow-up to THE GRAVITY OF US will resonate strongly with readers struggling to break out of their shell or start over when they feel stuck.
The author of CINDERELLA IS DEAD is back with another exciting twist on a classic story. Full of deadly plants, ancient family secrets, Black girl magic, and queer romance, THIS POISON HEART reimagines Greek mythology, with THE SECRET GARDEN and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS mixed in to this enchanting elixir. - Alyssa
COOL FOR THE SUMMER is the love story you've been waiting for. Lara's struggle to make sense of her bisexuality and complicated feelings for Chase and Jasmine will resonate powerfully with all of us who have felt torn between conflicting desires, identities, and worlds. A love letter to Demi Lovato's song "Cool for the Summer," Dahlia Adler's fun, sexy, and heartfelt novel is a celebration of romance, self-love, self-discovery, and resilience that will make you want to sing and dance. - Alyssa
This book was such a delight! It's a really fun mystery with a scavenger hunt and lots of twists; plus it's full of witty banter, fierce rivalry, and queer romance. Casey McQuiston is on fire! - Alyssa
I'm so glad I read this book. The romance was so sweet and I loved the historical love letters quoted by Alex and Henry. This is the world as I wish it were, progressive presidents and societal acceptance. - Julie
For her whole life, August has never let herself grow attached to any place or anyone, preferring to study people rather than actually getting to know them. Until she meets Jane, an impossibly perfect girl on the subway who she's inexplicably drawn to. A girl who inspires her to let people in again and cracks her wide open. There’s just one problem: Jane is from a different time.
With subway parties, drag shows, and a band of hilarious and sweet queer friends I would love to be adopted by, One Last Stop manages to provide laughs, queer history and love, a heist, time travel, and a feeling of belonging that is impossible to get from most other books. This book really describes the feeling of being afraid to let people know you, but also the feeling of relief when you decide to be your unapologetic self and are embraced by a community. It cured my pandemic loneliness, and filled me with bubbling laughter and heart squeezing happiness. Like August, I felt myself open up to the impossible magic that is love.
This book was a love letter to the magic of New York City and the heart that its people have. And also to the queer community. This book is one that is tattooed permanently on my heart. - Jessi
A dying Black father writes to his estranged gay son in this beautifully crafted, profoundly moving, and wholly immersive epistolary novel about our need for empathy, love, hope, and redemption. DON'T CRY FOR ME is one of my favorite books of 2022. Read it! - Alyssa