The best queer YA novels for kids of color

Who am I?

As a gay Cuban-American kid, I always wanted more books with queer protagonists and I wanted more protagonists to be kids of color. I rarely found either (and never both in one book). Happily, a few decades later, we live in a moment where these stories are finally getting their due; you can now find all facets of the LGBTQ+ experience in print with characters from an array of cultures. As a writer, I’m excited to be part of that with my book Spin Me Right Round, featuring a gay Cuban-American protagonist. Seeing his face looking back at me from the bookstore shelves is a dream come true.

I wrote...

Spin Me Right Round

By David Valdes,

Book cover of Spin Me Right Round

What is my book about?

Cuban-American Luis wants to bring his boyfriend to prom, but his school is stuck in the past and says no. When a freak accident sends him back in time to 1985, he finds out what his school is afraid of, breaks up his own parents (oops!), and makes it his mission to save the school closet case from a terrible fate. Back to the Future but more gay and less white, Spin Me Right Round is a tale of making the future you want when the world isn’t quite ready.

The books I picked & why

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If You Could Be Mine

By Sara Farizan,

Book cover of If You Could Be Mine

Why this book?

I remember well how starved I was as a teen for books about kids like me—queer, Cuban, or both—so I love books that fill a void. Sara Farizan does that with Iranian girls Sahar and Nasrin, including a swoony kiss you won’t want to miss. For anyone who’s ever had sparks with a friend, this is an extra special read.

Felix Ever After

By Kacen Callender,

Book cover of Felix Ever After

Why this book?

I went to college for art while trying to figure out my future, so I fell hard for the story of Felix, a Black and trans teen who is subjected to harassment, finds potential romance, and wrestles with whether he’s the artist he thinks he is. His relationship with his dad is complicated and heartfelt, and you’ll feel compassion all the way.

Labyrinth Lost

By Zoraida Córdova,

Book cover of Labyrinth Lost

Why this book?

I love magical realism and Zoraida Cordova’s our reigning queen. A young Latina witch is torn between her female bestie and a hunky brujo, creating a queer triangle to remember in a fantastical world called Los Lagos. (Serious worldbuilding is Cordova’s gift.) And if you love this, it’s just the beginning—there are two more books in the series.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

By Malinda Lo,

Book cover of Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Why this book?

Did you know there were lesbian bars in San Francisco in the 1950s? I didn’t until fellow author and neighbor Malinda Lo wrote this beautiful romance about two girls in Chinatown during the red scare. While the heroine discovers a whole new world, so do we. And interspersed chapters help us understand where her parents are coming from.

They Both Die at the End

By Adam Silvera,

Book cover of They Both Die at the End

Why this book?

I cried when I finished this swoony love story about the short romance of two Latinx boys. I mean, the author warns you what’s coming, but he’s made their love story so sweet, you can’t help but root for an “ever after” that can’t come. Along the way, Silvera has made up a world like ours but with its own rules and logic, an almost-us society that is completely believable.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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