Books
5 min

10 queer books we can’t wait to read this summer

Whether you're looking for a love story in a hopeless place or a heart-stopping thriller, we've got you covered

Credit: Dmitr1ch/iStock/Getty Images Plus; Francesca Roh/Xtra

If you want more from Toronto than Drake

Shut Up You’re Pretty by Téa Mutonji (VS Books)

Catherine Hernandez’s novel Scarborough, which was longlisted for Canada Reads 2018, put this culturally diverse suburb of eastern Toronto on the map. And now Téa Mutonji’s debut collection of stories follows Loli as she matures and moves from a childhood in the Congo to young adulthood in Scarborough. Throughout this coming-of-age collection, Loli navigates losing her virginity, becoming a sex worker, falling in love, facing abortion and dealing with loss.

Mutonji is the first author to receive a book deal though VS Books, an imprint of Arsenal Pulp Press. It was founded in 2017 by multidisciplinary artist and author Vivek Shraya as a means to support writers of colour.

If you wish Prince Harry had married a man instead of a Markle

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (St Martin’s Press)

When Alex Claremont-Diaz’s mother becomes president of the United States, he gets to enjoy the  royal treatment — that is, until the tabloids find out he’s got transatlantic beef with Henry, an actual prince. Their handlers (which include US/British heads of state) scramble to devise a plan to control the fallout, but things take an unexpected turn: Alex and Henry embark on a secret romance, one that could derail both their countries.

If you need to be reminded that you are strong

Brave Face: A Memoir by Shaun David Hutchinson (Simon Pulse)

“I wasn’t depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay.” In his new memoir, the critically acclaimed author of We Are The Ants gets real about what it’s like to experience depression as a gay man, and how he began the road to recovery.

If you’ve ever felt out of place

We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib (Viking, June 4)

As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, Samra Habib continually faced threats from Islamic extremists; from her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in greater danger. After her family arrived in Canada as refugees, Habib faced new challenges — from racism and bullying to poverty and an arranged marriage. Tired of being policed by the people in her life, Habib sets off on a journey of self-exploration through faith, art, love and queerness.

If you need reassurance that you can be busy and still fall in love

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann (Swoon Reads, June 4)

Winnie is a high school grad with a lot on her plate: she’s starting college in the fall, she’s working at her grandmother’s diner (and trying to save it from going out of business), she’s in a queerplatonic relationship and, just as she thinks she’s about to have one last perfect summer before starting school, she becomes the newly-crowned Misty Haven’s Summer Queen. Now Winnie has to participate in a never-ending list of social events, even if she’s afraid of the attention and obligations they bring — and the romantic feelings she’s beginning to have for the crowned Summer King.

If The Perfectionists is not the Pretty Little Liars sequel you had hoped for

All Eyes on Us by Kit Frick (Margaret K McElderry Books, June 4)

Amanda is in a committed relationship with Carter, but so is Rosalie — at least she’s pretending to be in order to hide her actual relationship with her girlfriend from her Christian fundamentalist parents who don’t know she’s queer. An anonymous texter targets both Amanda and Rosalie in the hopes they’ll take Carter down, but instead the two band together to figure out who their stalker is.

If you like unearthed small-town secrets

Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas (Bloomsbury USA, June 4)

Even though she returns to her small town of Samsboro, Kentucky, under a pseudonym, high schooler Kalyn Spence learns she can’t separate herself from the brutal murder her father committed decades before. Meanwhile, Gus Peake, who’s called “disabled kid” at school because of his cerebral palsy, is looking for his father’s killer. When Kalyn and Gus meet, they form a deep friendship — until their families’ pasts are revealed.

If you want to brush up on your history

A Queer History of the United States for Young People by Michael Bronski (Beacon Press, June 11)

In this revised version of A Queer History of the United States for young-adult audiences, Bronski uses stories, letters, poems, drawings and more to detail over 400 years of queer history that hasn’t been taught in schools. He highlights important moments and key figures of queer movements, from Sylvia Rivera and Bayard Rustin to Kiyoshi Kuromiya, to illustrate the role LGBTQ2 people have long played in the shaping of America.

If you’ve binged The Handmaid’s Tale and you need a new dystopian fix

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante (GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, June 11)

Seventeen-year-old Marisol is an undocumented immigrant who gets caught trying to cross the US border with her sister Gabi after fleeing violence in their home country of El Salvador. Desperate to stay in America and to keep her sister safe, Marisol agrees to participate in a risky experimental study as a “grief keeper,” someone who takes another’s grief into their own body to save a life. She never imagined one of the risks would be falling in love.

If you’re looking for the queer feminist version of Lord of the Flies

Wilder Girls by Rory Power (Delacorte Press, July 9)

Hetty has been quarantined at Raxter School for Girls for the past 18 months, ever since the “Tox” took over her town. It killed the teachers first, then it infected the students, turning their bodies into something strange and foreign. Soon after, it infiltrated the woods surrounding the school, making them lethally dangerous. But when her friend goes missing, Hetty is determined to breach the quarantine and face the woods to save her.