One of the (many!) great things about Pride Month falling in June is getting out of school, kicking back and enjoying a book at the beach, pool or in a lazy hammock strung between trees. An additional pleasure is finding literature that you can relate to, which was once quite challenging for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth. Fortunately, there are more outstanding YA reads available than ever before and we have some terrific, critically praised page-turners here for you that will launch your summer of sun-soaked bliss.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Simon & Schuster)

This coming-of-age novel received no less than five literary awards, including the Stonewall Book Award, and major praise from Publisher’s Weekly, which called it “tender and honest.” Aristotle and Dante are two Latino teens whose differences, however striking, turn out to be the glue that bonds them and challenges them to define their authentic selves. As the pair grows closer they realize that their bond transcends friendship.

Two-Boys-KissingTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan (Knopf Books)

The story takes us through a history of gay men, the AIDs epidemic, and the shift from a once narrow-minded world in regards to homosexuality to one which is more accepting. Narrated by a Greek Chorus of men whose lives were lost to AIDs, they tell the story of two 17-year-old boys, Harry and Craig, who join a 32-hour kissing marathon. Amongst the smooching, the teenagers find themselves standing as trailblazers to the other participants on their road to self-discovery.

TheLetterQThe Letter Q, edited by Sarah Moon (Levine Books)

Have you ever dreamt of receiving advice from your older self? Well-known LGBTQ authors including Amy Bloom, David Levithan, and Michael Cunningham contributed letters they wrote to their younger selves. Included in the topics are the challenges they faced as youth, what they wish they had known when they were young, dealing with bullies, closed-minded parents, and anyone who made them feel shame for being who they were. Their basic message; it will get better. The adversity that life throws at us is in fact a tool, a launching pad if you will, which in turn will help us soar.