In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Sunday I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicles, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
With Spring here and summer around the corner, there’s plenty to read this May. From a queer baker trying to find her place to historical romances with transgender twist we’ve been waiting for, we’ve got you covered for the month of May with a list of LGBTQ+ books you should check out.
A special shoutout goes to Netgalley, the premier source of getting books in advance if you’re looking to review books. All the summaries were sourced from Netgalley and we hope this helps get readers interested in these creative queer writers!
1. Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond
Summary: Amy, a semi-closeted queer baker and bartender in mid-2010s Oklahoma, has spent a lifetime putting other people’s needs before her own. Until, that is, she’s fired from her job at a Christian bakery and turns her one-off gig subbing in for a bridesmaid into a full-time business, thanks to her baking talents, crafting skills, and years watching rom-coms and Say Yes to the Dress. Between her new gig and meeting Charley, the attractive engineer who’s just moved to Tulsa, suddenly Amy’s found something—and someone—she actually wants.
Her tight-knit group of chosen family is thrilled that Amy is becoming her authentic self. But when her deep desire to please kicks into overdrive, Amy’s precarious balancing act strains her relationships to the breaking point, and she must decide what it looks like to be true to herself—and if she has the courage to try.
2. Answers in the Pages by David Levithan
Summary: When Donovan left his copy of The Adventurers on the kitchen counter, he didn’t think his mom would read it—much less have a problem with it. It’s just an adventure novel about two characters trying to stop an evil genius…right?
But soon the entire town is freaking out about whether the book’s main characters are gay, Donovan’s mom is trying to get the book removed from the school curriculum, and Donovan is caught in the middle. Donovan doesn’t really know if the two boys fall in love at the end or not—but he does know this: even if they do, it shouldn’t matter. The book should not be banned from school.
Interweaving three connected storylines, David Levithan delivers a bold, fun, and timely story about taking action (whether it’s against book censors or deadly alligators…), being brave, and standing up for what’s right.
3. Perfect Rivalry by Radclyffe
Summary: Ren Dunbar is used to never fitting in—anywhere. Graduating high school at thirteen and med school at nineteen pretty much guaranteed she’d always have trouble proving she belonged, but she’s okay with that. She prefers the solitude of the lab over the raucous atmosphere in the OR, which would be fine except she’s a surgery resident. Winning the Benjamin Franklin Prize in surgery is just the proof she needs to show everyone she deserves to be part of their world.
Dani Chan knows she’s disappointed her family in choosing a mundane clinical career—in surgery no less—over the far more valuable world of medical research. When she wins the Franklin Prize and the national acclaim that comes with it, she’ll finally gain their approval, and maybe, at last, their affection.
Ren and Dani set out to win, no matter what it takes, but their unexpected attraction is an obstacle neither has counted on and love may be the final reward.
4. The Wicked and the Willing by Lianyu Tan
Summary: 1927, colonial Singapore
Monsters don’t scare Gean Choo. And there are monsters aplenty among the Europeans on sultry Singapore island, all of them running away from something—or someone. When she starts her new job as a lady’s companion, she can’t imagine falling for the impassioned, demanding mistress of Ambrosia Hall, nor the gruff, brooding woman who serves as her lady’s majordomo.
The latter holds her heart; the former, her body, blood, and loyalty. Both want her. Both need her. And one of them will die for her.
5. Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan
Summary: Fallon is Type A, looks before she leaps, and always has a plan (and a backup plan). Chloe is happy-go-lucky, flies by the seat of her pants, and always follows her bliss.
The two girls used to be best friends, but last summer they hooked up right before Chloe left for college, and after a series of misunderstandings, they aren’t even speaking to each other. A year later, Chloe’s back home from school, and Fallon is doing everything in her power to avoid her. Which is especially difficult because their moms own a business together—a gourmet ice cream truck where both girls work.
When a meeting with some promising potential investors calls their parents away at the last minute, it’s up to Fallon to work a series of important food truck festivals across the country. But she can’t do it alone, and Chloe is the only one available to help. Tensions heat up again between the two girls as they face a few unexpected detours—and more than a little roadside attraction. But maybe, just maybe, the best things in life can’t always be planned.
6. The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers to be known for her killer eyeliner, not for being one of the only Mexican kids at her new, mostly white, very rich Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way.
After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend before transferring to Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: keep her brother out of trouble, make her mom proud, and, most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami.
The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. So cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?
Told in a captivating voice that is by turns hilarious, vulnerable, and searingly honest, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School explores the joys and heartaches of living your full truth out loud.
7. Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Mack is a hopeless romantic—likely a hazard of growing up on film sets thanks to his father’s job. Mack has had a crush on Karim for as long as he can remember and he can’t believe it when gorgeous, popular Karim seems into him too.
But when Mack’s father takes on a new directing project in Scotland, Mack has to move away, and soon discovers how painful long-distance relationships can be. It’s awful to be so far away from Karim, and it’s made worse by the fact that Karim can be so hard to read.
Then Mack meets actor Finlay on set, and the world turns upside down again. Fin seems fearless—and his confidence could just be infectious.
8. A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall
Summary: When Viola Carroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.
Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognizes her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.
As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.
9. Milo and Marcos at the End of the World by Kevin Christopher Snipes
Summary: Milo Connolly has managed to survive most of high school without any major disasters, so by his calculations, he’s well past due for some sort of Epic Teenage Catastrophe. Even so, all he wants his senior year is to fly under the radar.
Everything is going exactly as planned until the dreamy and charismatic Marcos Price saunters back into his life after a three-year absence and turns his world upside down. Suddenly Milo is forced to confront the long-buried feelings that he’s kept hidden not only from himself but also from his deeply religious parents and community.
To make matters worse, strange things have been happening around his sleepy Florida town ever since Marcos’s return—sinkholes, blackouts, hailstorms. Mother Nature is out of control, and the closer Milo and Marcos get, the more disasters seem to befall them. In fact, as more and more bizarre occurrences pile up, Milo and Marcos find themselves faced with the unthinkable: Is there a larger, unseen force at play, trying to keep them apart? And if so, is their love worth risking the end of the world?
10. Boys Come First by Aaron Foley
Summary: Suddenly jobless and single after a devastating layoff and a breakup with his cheating ex, advertising copywriter Dominick Gibson flees his life in Hell’s Kitchen to try and get back on track in his hometown of Detroit. He’s got one objective—exit the shallow dating pool ASAP and get married by thirty-five—and the deadline’s approaching fast.
Meanwhile, Dom’s best friend, Troy Clements, an idealistic teacher who never left Michigan, finds himself at odds with all the men in his life: a troubled boyfriend he’s desperate to hold onto, a perpetually dissatisfied father, and his other friend, Remy Patton. Remy, a rags-to-riches real estate agent known as “Mr. Detroit,” has his own problems—namely choosing between making it work with a long-distance lover or settling for a local Mr. Right Now who’s not quite Mr. Right. And when a high-stakes real estate deal threatens to blow up his friendship with Troy, the three men have to figure out how to navigate the pitfalls of friendship and a city that seems to be changing overnight.
What did you think about these LGBTQ+ books for April? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!
Queerly Not Straight posts every Sunday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)