The best books starring queer teen athletes

Who am I?

My newest YA novel, Home Field Advantage, is your typical cliché sports romance between a high school quarterback and aspiring cheer captain…except that they’re both girls. Sports is such a fascinating setting for queer YA to me, because it adds a whole extra social dynamic of being teammates and how that can work for or against you, depending on the culture and who you are. It’s also a great venue for subversion of gender norms, which is always welcome to me! And in general, I really just love protagonists who are really passionate about what they do. If they happen to be queer as well, that’s just a nice bonus!


I wrote...

Home Field Advantage

By Dahlia Adler,

Book cover of Home Field Advantage

What is my book about?

Amber McCloud’s dream is to become cheer captain, but it’s an extra-tall order to be spirited when the quarterback of your team has been killed in a car accident. Watching Robbie get replaced by newcomer Jack Walsh is brutal. And when it turns out Jack is actually short for Jaclyn, all hell breaks loose.

The players refuse to be led by a girl, the cheerleaders are mad about changes to their traditions, and the fact that Robbie’s been replaced by a QB who wears a sports bra has more than a few Atherton Alligators in a rage. It quickly becomes clear that Amber only has a future on the squad if she helps them take Jack down. Just one problem: Amber and Jack are falling for each other.

The books I picked & why

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She Drives Me Crazy

By Kelly Quindlen,

Book cover of She Drives Me Crazy

Why this book?

She Drives Me Crazy does a fantastic job mashing up two of the greatest tropes—enemies-to-lovers and fake dating—and combining them with a spin on the classic sports romance genre by having both basketball player Scottie and cheerleader Irene be girls. It’s not all fun and games—Scottie is nursing a breakup in a painfully relatable fashion—but it is a lot of fun and games, and Quindlen definitely knows how to write romance, too. 

She Drives Me Crazy

By Kelly Quindlen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She Drives Me Crazy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Passing Playbook

By Isaac Fitzsimons,

Book cover of The Passing Playbook

Why this book?

Fitzsimons’s debut, about a stealth trans soccer player named Spencer who’s crushing on a teammate at a new school, is sweet, funny, warm, sporty, and all too relevant. When Spencer’s benched due to the F on his birth certificate, he can either ride the pine with the secret intact, or fight for his right to be on the field, outing himself in the process and risking his crush.

The Passing Playbook

By Isaac Fitzsimons,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Passing Playbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Like Other Girls

By Britta Lundin,

Book cover of Like Other Girls

Why this book?

Lundin writes one of the best explorations of internalized and externalized misogyny I’ve ever read in this contemporary YA about Mara, a lesbian who needs a new sport when she’s bounced off of basketball for a fight and finds herself fighting to join football. She’s soon joined by four other girls (including both her crush and her enemy) aiming to join with her, which pisses her off—why do they have to turn it into some girl power thing when she just genuinely loves the sport? But the way things play out teaches Mara a lot about who’s really on her team. 

Like Other Girls

By Britta Lundin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Like Other Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Some Girls Do

By Jennifer Dugan,

Book cover of Some Girls Do

Why this book?

Dugan is one of my absolute favorite authors of queer YA, and this romance between out-and-proud track star Morgan and closeted Ruby is a perfect illustration why, merging a fun high school setting and passionate main characters with the very relevant situation of managing your public level of queerness. It’s thoughtful and sweet, romantic and funny, and above all, real. 

Some Girls Do

By Jennifer Dugan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Some Girls Do as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Man o' War

By Cory McCarthy,

Book cover of Man o' War

Why this book?

River McIntyre is a swimmer; at least that’s one element of their identity that’s safely and publicly established. But when he ends up “swimming” in the wrong place—a shark tank—it kicks off a journey of self-discovery that will change them forever. It’s such a brilliant path, taking place over the course of years and through different IDs and realizations, and I love the way everything—including River’s chosen name—always comes back to the water. 

Man o' War

By Cory McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Man o' War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An achingly honest and frequently hilarious coming-of-age novel about an Arab American trans swimmer fighting to keep their head above water in a landlocked Midwestern town.

River McIntyre has grown up down the street from Sea Planet, an infamous marine life theme park slowly going out of business in small-town Ohio. When a chance encounter with a happy, healthy queer person on the annual field trip lands River literally in the shark tank, they must admit the truth: they don't know who they are-only what they've been told to be. This sets off a wrenching journey of self-discovery, from internalized…

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