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    Here's To 18 Of The Most Crush-Worthy Queer YA Novels — And Cover Reveal For "Here's To Us"

    We're revealing the cover for Here's to Us, plus 18 queer YA books to read while you wait!

    by ,

    What if we not only revealed the cover for our sequel to What if It’s Us, but also shared some recommendations for books we absolutely love? Spoiler: That’s exactly what we’re doing. 

    We’re thrilled to share the gorgeous cover for Here’s to Us (featuring art by Jeff Östberg and design by Erin Fitzsimmons and Alison Donalty) and we can’t wait for you to dive into Arthur and Ben’s big romantic do-over. Here's your first look!

    Courtesy of Harperteen; design by Erin Fitzsimmons and Alison Donalty

    You can now preorder Here's to Us, out Dec. 28. But while you’re waiting, why not check out some of the queer books that made our hearts skip a beat?

    1. The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters

    Interlude Press, julianwinters.com

    As always, Julian Winters is here to tug at our heartstrings with a wildly endearing ensemble cast of lovable queer geeks. Wesley is a gay, biracial (Black and white) 18-year-old grappling with the impending closure of his favorite indie bookstore and a raging crush on his best friend Nico. If you’re looking for an achingly relatable coming-of-age love story (with Empire Records vibes for days), look no further.

    2. The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos

    Quill Tree Books, Dirty Sugar LLC / Via andreweliopulos.com

    In this contemporary fantasy where the three members of a magic club perform actual feats of magic, senior year is about to get more wicked in this conservative Georgia small town. Sam (gay, white) wants to focus on the upcoming magic competition and his feelings for his fellow member James, but James kind of, sort of stole a spell book from sketchy magickers and painted a target on the backs of their friend group. The treatment of magic and queerness being frowned upon cuts deeply and the bewitching characters work hard to fix what magic can’t.

    3. I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

    Katherine Tegen Books, lylaleebooks.com

    Skye is a fat, Korean, bi girl who has no intention of letting fatphobes keep her from becoming a K-pop star. Entering a televised K-pop competition proves to be tough in unexpected ways but Skye tackles every challenge with grit, charm, and sheer talent. And her blossoming romance with bi K-pop star Henry is next-level adorable. Pure joy all around.

    4. How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

    Penguin, arvinahmadi.com

    After a classmate threatens to out Amir Azadi as gay to his Muslim family, Amir flees to Rome to start a new life, where he believes he’ll be more accepted. His summer is one of personal triumphs, cute boys, and misery, but it somehow ends with his entire family being detained in an airport interrogation room. You’ll fall for this story as Amir relays it to a US Customs officer, feverishly turning the pages to see what landed Amir in that interrogation room and what his life looks like outside of it.

    5. The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth

    ciarasmyth.com

    Saoirse is the sharp-tongued, cynical (white, Irish) lesbian of our dreams and she has some very good reasons for avoiding love like the plague. Enter rom-com–loving Ruby, who talks her into a no-strings-attached, just-for-fun series of movie-inspired dates. Saoirse’s story is as gut-wrenching as it is sweet and watching her slowly fall for Ruby is guaranteed to melt even the coldest of hearts.

    6. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

    Swoon Reads, aiden-thomas.com

    When his traditional Latinx family struggles with accepting his true gender, Yadriel decides he’ll prove he’s a real brujo by performing a ritual to find the ghost of his murdered cousin. But it backfires when he accidentally summons Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, who needs to tie up some loose ends before he moves on. This romance between a brujo and a ghost is more lively than haunting, and their story is absolutely groundbreaking and touching.

    7. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

    Scholastic, Reece T. Williams / Via byleahjohnson.com

    Brainy, anxious Liz has no desire to be prom queen — being one of the only Black, queer students in her small-town high school is already more spotlight than she ever asked for. But since the title comes with a scholarship, she reluctantly enters the fray — and ends up falling hard for one of her prom queen competitors. This book is irresistibly geeky, smart, funny, and downright adorable.

    8. A Phoenix First Must Burn, edited by Patrice Caldwell

    Viking Books for Young Readers, patricecaldwell.com

    This speculative fiction anthology has so much to offer its readers, from folktales to futuristic societies, witches, scientists, and more. You’ll find queerness within these pages, including a sapphic romance between a vampire and a human that’s so amazing you’ll want more. Like an entire novel and a TV show.

    9. Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

    Wednesday Books, Melbourne Actors Headshots / Via sophiegonzalesbooks.com

    Darcy (white, bisexual, certified hot mess) runs an anonymous relationship advice service out of an empty locker but her secret identity is at risk of being exposed when she’s caught in the act by popular swim team dude Brougham. There’s a little bit of blackmail, a whole lot of romantic scheming, and a profoundly moving scene in the school’s Queer and Questioning Club. Through it all, Darcy and Brougham banter their way into a love story with real depth and heart.

    10. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

    Dutton Books for Young Readers, Sharona Jacobs / Via malindalo.com

    Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root — that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. But America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not for Chinese Americans like Lily. This slow-burn love story is historical fiction at its finest.

    11. Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

    Bloomsbury YA, stevensalvatore.com

    When Carey (a white, genderqueer, Mariah Carey superfan) gets cast as the lead in their school’s production of Wicked, the anti-queer backlash is overwhelming — but Carey and their friends fight back with passion and heart. Carey’s voice leaps off the page and their journey toward finding their voice is so powerfully affirming. Part love story, part self-love story, and entirely lovely.

    12. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

    harper, imjuliemurphy.com

    Ramona (white with unmistakable blue hair) is sure of three things: She likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she’s sure she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. The return of her childhood friend Freddie leads Ramona to questioning her sexual identity. Ramona’s story is a must-read for those coming to grips with the fluidity of sexuality.

    13. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

    Swoon Reads, clairekann.com

    Alice, reeling from a recent breakup, has no plans of putting her heart on the line again — until she meets Takumi at her summer library job. This book is so funny, so voice-y, and threaded with nuanced conversations about identity (Alice is Black and biromantic asexual), microaggressions, and love in all its forms.

    14. Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

    Tor Teen, Zoraida Córdova | zoraidacordova.com

    Xochitl is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds and aching to share her heart with a kindred spirit. Enter Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous conqueror. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match…if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down. Beautifully written with a full cast of Latinx characters, this is a love story for the ages.

    15. Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

    Roaring Brook Press, kellyquindlen.com

    Codi (a white, gay girl) has never kissed a girl, doesn’t go to parties, and sticks closely to her two best friends. But she’s yearning for new experiences and big firsts — and she just might want them badly enough to step out of her comfort zone at last. Codi’s struggle to navigate the competing demands of old and new friendships is honest, complex, and intensely relatable, and her love story will give you butterflies for days.

    16. Odd One Out by Nic Stone

    Ember, nicstone.info

    Courtney (Black) and Jupiter (Black/Latinx) have been next-door neighbors and best friends forever, but lately Cooper is thinking he wants more than friendship. Then Rae (half–Chinese Jamaican, half-white) moves to town, and she’s crushing on both Cooper and Jupiter. Jupiter has always liked girls but when Rae starts dating Cooper, she finds herself thinking about how she always pictured she’d be the girl by Cooper’s side. Told in three parts, each narrated by a different character, this love triangle offers no easy answers — but it’s so easy to fall in love with Nic Stone’s bighearted, hilariously honest prose.

    17. The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch

    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, robbiecouch.com

    Sky, a white, openly gay high school senior, is ready to bust out of his comfort zone with the most epic promposal his small town has ever seen. But when his plans get derailed by a bigoted, anonymous cyberbully, he and his friends are determined to fight back. Robbie Couch manages to weave a genuinely compelling mystery into a pitch-perfect coming-of-age love story, and the end result is thought-provoking, romantic, and utterly unputdownable.

    18. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

    Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, kacencallender.com

    Art geek Felix aches for first love; and Kacen Callender’s prose is so vivid and heartfelt, you’ll ache right along with him. He’s actively grappling with the nuances of his intersecting identities — Black, trans, and queer — ultimately realizing he’s a demiboy. The narrative gives him space to explore these questions in all their complexity and his insights are genuinely moving. You’ll root for Felix through every step and misstep, all the way to his story’s beautifully romantic conclusion.

    Becky Albertalli is the award-winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, now a major motion picture: Love, Simon. Her other works include: The Upside of Unrequited, Leah on the Offbeat, and What if It's Us (in collaboration with Adam Silvera). Adam Silvera is the New York Times bestselling author of Infinity Son, They Both Die at the End, More Happy Than Not, History Is All You Left Me, and What if It's Us with Becky Albertalli. Here's to Us releases Dec. 28.

    Seth Abel Photography

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