Fiction Books --
Teen, Youth & Young Adult

There are many books of fiction written by or for trans, non-binary and gender diverse young adults and teens. Here are a few.

 

    ADULT FICTION

    TEEN, YOUTH & YOUNG ADULT FICTION

See also CHILDREN'S BOOKS.

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BOOK CLUB - ALBERTA

 

Outloud Book Club

Outloud St Albert serves children, youth and young adults in St Albert and surrounding area.

"Do you like reading and want to do more of it? Join our queer youth book club. Each month you'll be given a theme that your book pick should fit and then we'll get together and talk about it. Sound fun?

    Message us or email bekah@outloudstalbert.ca for more info"

 

 

YOUTH & YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

 

BOOK LISTS / BIBLIOGRAPHIES

8 scintillating queer YA books for every type of reader

"...which young adult book should you pick up this summer?"

By Mel Woods. Xtra Magazine. May 18, 2021.

Trans YA books by trans authors  (bibliography of titles)

By YA Pride.  2019  (US)

“…we wanted to publish a list of our favorite trans YA books written by authors who are trans and/or non-binary. (While I believe cisgender depictions of trans character can be great, at a moment like this, trans voices need to be uplifted.)

Transcend Australia: Reading, listening, viewing

"Transcend Australia has collated this list to help you find the books, zines, comics, graphic novels, podcasts and programs that will guide and inform you, your child, family, friends, colleagues and communities in understanding gender diversity better.

This list has reading material for children, teens/young adults, parents/carers and allies, covering fiction and non-fiction.  Everyone has their own tastes and preferences so we have gathered a wide range to select from. It’s not an exhaustive list  and are simply suggestions. This collection is an opportunity for you to gather information, discover and learn."

"Transcend Australia is working towards a world where trans, gender diverse and non-binary children are embraced and given every opportunity to thrive and flourish.  Transcend’s purpose is to support, affirm and celebrate the lives of trans and gender diverse and non binary (TGDNB) children and their families and carers.  Kindness and authenticity will underpin/guide/motivate all our interactions."

Transparenthood

Book and film suggestions. Book titles include adult and young adult books.

Stand With Trans children's books

Stand With Trans.  (US)

Bibliography. 'This includes an annotated list of transgender and non-binary themed materials, listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name.  The list includes (in order):

  • Children’s Picture Books - for littles of preschool and early elementary school ages

  • Juvenile Fiction and Nonfiction for elementary school ages

  • Young Adult Fiction, Biographies, Nonfiction and Magazines for middle school and high school ages

  • Books, Training Resources, and Articles and Information of Interest for Parents and Adults including Fiction, Biographies, Nonfiction, and Articles

  • Transgender Themed Documentaries, Feature Length Films, Television Shows"

BOOK TITLES

Being Alice

By Marcus Tallberg.  2020. Ages 12-18. (Sweden)

“They’ve called her Oliver since the day she was born. Alice hates that. She has never been or ever wanted to be Oliver. Alone, abused and suicidal, Alice yearns to break free ‘from the lie that has been my life.’ That life changes forever the day she meets her fairy godmother, the wise and witty Vincent, a genderfluid drag star named Ursula Undress. Under Ursula’s wing, Alice embarks on a tumultuous, bittersweet and empowering journey to become herself.
  Told through letters to Alice’s beloved Aunt Esther, “Being Alice” may be fiction, but the experiences and inspirational wisdom within are very real, based on interviews with ten trans and intergender contributors.”

Being Emily
By Rachel Gold. 2012.  Ages: about 14-15
“They say that whoever you are it’s okay, you were born that way. Those words don’t comfort Emily, because she was born Christopher and her insides know that her outsides are all wrong.
  They say that it gets better, be who are you and it’ll be fine. For Emily, telling her parents who she really is means a therapist who insists Christopher is normal and Emily is sick. Telling her girlfriend means lectures about how God doesn’t make that kind of mistake.
  Emily desperately wants high school in her (small town) to get better. She wants to be the woman she knows is inside, but it’s not until a substitute therapist and a girl named Natalie come into her life that she believes she has a chance of actually Being Emily.”

 

Between perfect and real

By Ray Stoeve. Apr 2021.

A moving YA debut about a trans boy finding his voice—and himself
”Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a ‘nontraditional’ Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?”

Bianca & Roja

By Anna-Marie McLemore.  2018.

“The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.
The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they're also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.”

Birthday

By Meredith Russo. 2020. (US)

Lovers who surmount the odds have always been intense emotional fodder, but rarely have we seen a story like Birthday...true and raw, haunting and undeniable." -The New York Times Book Review
”Two best friends. A shared birthday. Six years...
ERIC: There was the day we were born. There was the minute Morgan and I decided we were best friends for life. The years where we stuck by each other's side - as Morgan's mom died, as he moved across town, as I joined the football team, as my parents started fighting. But sometimes I worry that Morgan and I won't be best friends forever. That there'll be a day, a minute, a second, where it all falls apart and there's no turning back the clock.

MORGAN:  I know that every birthday should feel like a new beginning, but I'm trapped in this mixed-up body, in this wrong life, in Nowheresville, Tennessee, on repeat. With a dad who cares about his football team more than me, a mom I miss more than anything, and a best friend who can never know my biggest secret. Maybe one day I'll be ready to become the person I am inside. To become her. To tell the world. To tell Eric. But when?
  Six years of birthdays reveal Eric and Morgan's destiny as they come together, drift apart, fall in love, and discover who they're meant to be - and if they're meant to be together. From the award-winning author of If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo, comes a heart-wrenching and universal story of identity, first love, and fate."
Beautifully written, Birthday is an altogether singular contribution to the gradually growing body of transgender literature and, indeed, to mainstream literature, as well." -ALA Booklist, starred review”

Can’t take that away

By Steven Salvatore. Mar 2021.

" An empowering and emotional debut about a genderqueer teen who finds the courage to stand up and speak out for equality when they are discriminated against by their high school administration.
  Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother's spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice.
  Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey's tormentor and others in the school. It's up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights--and they refuse to be silenced.
  Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore's Can't Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.”

A charming, inspired story about being true to who you are." - Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us

Cemetery boys

By Alden Thomas. Sept 2020.  (US)

“A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas's New York Times-bestselling paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as 'groundbreaking.'
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him.
  When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
  However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school's resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He's determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave."

Praise for Cemetery Boys: Longlisted for the National Book Award // "The novel perfectly balances the vibrant, energetic Latinx culture while delving into heavy topics like LGBTQ+ acceptance, deportation, colonization, and racism within authoritative establishments." -TeenVogue.com  // "This stunning debut novel from Thomas is detailed, heart-rending, and immensely romantic. I was bawling by the end of it, but not from sadness: I just felt so incredibly happy that this queer Latinx adventure will get to be read by other kids. Cemetery Boys is necessary: for trans kids, for queer kids, for those in the Latinx community who need to see themselves on the page. Don't miss this book." -Mark Oshiro, author of Anger is a Gift

The collection: Short fiction from the transgender vanguard

Edited by Riley MacLeod and Tom Leger.  2012.  (US)

“A dynamic composite of rising stars, The Collection represents the depth and range of tomorrow’s finest writers chronicling transgender narratives. 28 authors from North America converge in a single volume to showcase the future of trans literature and the next great movements in queer art.”

The death of Vivek Oji: A novel

By Akwaeke Emezi. 2020.  (Nigeria / US)

“What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew? 
One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings.

   As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.

   Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations—a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.”

 INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.
"Electrifying." — O: The Oprah Magazine . // Named a Best Book of 2020 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, USA TODAY, Vanity Fair, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Shondaland, Te
en Vogue, Vulture, Lit Hub, Bustle, Electric Literature, and BookPage.

 

Dreadnought: Nemesis – Book one

By April Daniels.  2017.  (US)

“An action-packed series-starter perfect for fans of The Heroine Complex and Not Your Sidekick.
"Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world's greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she's transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny's body into what she's always thought it should be. Now there's no hiding that she's a girl.

   It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny's first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father's dangerous obsession with ‘curing’ her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he's entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she's in over her head.

   She doesn't have time to adjust. Dreadnought's murderer - a cyborg named Utopia - still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can't sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.”

I didn't know how much I needed this brave, thrilling book until it rocked my world. Dreadnought is the superhero adventure we all need right now."  -- Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky

Felix ever after

By Kacen Callender. Apr 2021.  (US)

“A Stonewall Honor Book. From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

   Felix Love has never been in love -- and, yes, he's painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it's like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What's worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he's one marginalization too many--Black, queer, and transgender -- to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

   When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages -- after publicly posting Felix's deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned -- Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn't count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle....

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

   Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve. Felix is attending an ultracompetitive arts summer program to have a better shot at a full scholarship to Brown when someone posts Felix's dead name beside photos of him, pre-transition, in the school's lobby. Felix's plot to get revenge throws him onto the path of love and self-discovery.”

(Publishers Weekly, An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List)

Gender queer: A memoir

By Maia Kobabe. 2019.

"In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

   Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

   Maia Kobabe is a nonbinary, queer author and illustrator from the Bay Area, California. Eir first full length book, GENDER QUEER: A MEMOIR, was published in May 2019. Maia's short comics have been published by The Nib and in many anthologies including THE SECRET LOVES OF GEEKS, FASTER THAN LIGHT Y'ALL, GOTHIC TALES OF HAUNTED LOVE, SHOUT OUT, ADVANCED DEATH SAVES and BE GAY, DO COMICS. Before setting out to work freelance full-time, e worked for over ten years in libraries. Eir work is heavily influenced by fairy tales, homesickness, and the search for identity.
2020 ALA Alex Award Winner and 2020 Stonewall—Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book
"It’s also a great resource for those who identify as nonbinary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies that way and wish to better understand." — SLJ (starred review)

I hope we choose love: A trans girl’s notes from the end of the world

By Kai Cheng Thom. 2018.  (Canadian)

“What can we hope for at the end of the world? What can we trust in when community has broken our hearts? What would it mean to pursue justice without violence? How can we love in the absence of faith?

   In a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, acclaimed poet and essayist Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions that haunt social movements today. With the author's characteristic eloquence and honesty, I Hope We Choose Love proposes heartfelt solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, family, vengeance, and forgiveness. Taking its cues from contemporary thought leaders in the transformative justice movement such as adrienne maree brown and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, this provocative book is a call for nuance in a time of political polarization, for healing in a time of justice, and for love in an apocalypse.“

American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards Honor Book.

Winner, Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature.

I wish you all the best

By Mason Deaver. 2020.  (US)

"It's just three words: I am nonbinary. But that's all it takes to change everything.

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they're thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents' rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

   But Ben's attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan's friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

   At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.”

“Perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli, Mason Deaver's stunning debut will rip your heart out before showing you how to heal from tragedy and celebrate life in the process.

"Heartfelt, romantic, and quietly groundbreaking. This book will save lives." -- Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

I'll give you something to cry about: A novella

By Jennifer Finney Boylan. 2017.  (US)

"The Rileys, of Bar Harbor, Maine, negotiate the changes in their family as they head to Ford's Theatre, in Washington, DC, for their son's violin performance. Sweet, comic, and exuberant, the novella also tells the story of a transgender adolescent as she comes to terms with her family, world, and sexuality."

    Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of 13 books, including the national best seller She's Not There. A professor of English at Colby College, she is also the national co-chair of GLAAD and a trustee of the Kinsey Institute for Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. She lives in Maine with her wife, Deirdre, and their two sons, Zach and Sean.

If I was your girl

By Meredith Russo. Jun 2018.  (US)

"The award-winning, big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are, and a love story you can't help but root for.
  Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she's determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.
  Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

Meredith Russo's If I Was Your Girl has been named:
Stonewall Book Award Winner // Walter Dean Myers Honor Book for Outstanding Children's Literature. // iBooks YA Novel of the Year. // A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. // A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. // An Amazon Best Book of the Year. // A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist. // A Zoella Book Club Selection. // A Barnes & Noble Best YA Book of the Year. // A Bustle Best YA Book of the Year. // An ABA IndieNext Top 10 Pick. // One of Flavorwire's 50 Books Every Modern Teenager Should Read .

Lizard radio

By Pat Schmatz.  2015

“In a futuristic society run by an all-powerful Gov, a bender teen on the cusp of adulthood has choices to make that will change her life—and maybe the world.

   Fifteen-year-old bender Kivali has had a rough time in a gender-rigid culture. Abandoned as a baby and raised by Sheila, an ardent nonconformist, Kivali has always been surrounded by uncertainty. Where did she come from? Is it true what Sheila says, that she was deposited on Earth by the mysterious saurians? What are you? people ask, and Kivali isn’t sure. Boy/girl? Human/lizard? Both/neither? Now she’s in CropCamp, with all of its schedules and regs, and the first real friends she’s ever had. Strange occurrences and complicated relationships raise questions Kivali has never before had to consider. But she has a gift—the power to enter a trancelike state to harness the ‘knowings’ inside her. She has Lizard Radio. Will it be enough to save her?

   A coming-of-age story rich in friendships and the shattering emotions of first love, this deeply felt novel will resonate with teens just emerging as adults in a sometimes hostile world.”

Obie is man enough

By Schuyler Bailar.  Sept 2021.   (US)

"A coming-of-age story about transgender tween Obie, who didn't think being himself would cause such a splash. For fans of Alex Gino's George and Lisa Bunker's Felix Yz."
  "Obie knew his transition would have ripple effects. He has to leave his swim coach, his pool, and his best friends. But it’s time for Obie to find where he truly belongs.
    As Obie dives into a new team, though, things are strange. Obie always felt at home in the water, but now he can’t get his old coach out of his head. Even worse are the bullies that wait in the locker room and on the pool deck. Luckily, Obie has family behind him. And maybe some new friends too, including Charlie, his first crush. Obie is ready to prove he can be one of the fastest boys in the water—to his coach, his critics, and his biggest competition: himself."

Schuyler Bailar is an internationally renowned inspirational speaker, inclusion advocate, and diversity advisor. He holds a degree in cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology from Harvard University, where he was also the first transgender athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA Division I men's team. He was one of the USA's top 15-year-old breast-strokers. By 17, he set a USA national age-group record. In college, he finished in the top 15% of all collegiate athletes in his event. Schuyler's difficult choice--to transition while potentially giving up the prospect of being a champion swimmer as a female--was historic and timely. His story appeared everywhere from 60 Minutes to The Ellen Show. Schuyler's tireless advocacy of inclusion through public speaking and social media (@pinkmantaray) has earned him numerous notable honors. His corporate clients include Microsoft, Qualcomm, Capital One, American Eagle, Monte Nido & Affiliates, and many more.

The other boy
By M. G. Hennessey.  2019.  (US)
“Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his friends and teammates, even Josh. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.”

A beautifully heartfelt story about one boy’s journey toward acceptance. A book that Jill Soloway, the award-winning creator of Transparent, called “a terrific read for all ages” and Ami Polonsky, author of Gracefully Grayson, called “an emotionally complex and achingly real read.”

Pet

By Akwaeke Emezi. 2019.  (US)

“There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother's paintings and a drop of Jam's blood, she must reconsider what she's been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question -- How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?”
”A riveting and timely young adult debut novel that asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial. “
"The word hype was invented to describe books like this." –Refinery29

Snapdragon

By Kat Leyh. Feb 2020.  Ages 9-12.

 

"Kat Leyh's Snapdragon is a magical realist graphic novel about a young girl who befriends her town's witch and discovers the strange magic within herself.

​Snap's town had a witch.
At least, that's how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a crocks-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online-after doing a little ritual to put their spirits to rest. It's creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it's kind of cool, too.
They make a deal: Jacks will teach Snap how to take care of the baby opossums that Snap rescued, and Snap will help Jacks with her work. But as Snap starts to get to know Jacks, she realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic-and a connection with Snap's family's past."

REVIEWS & AWARDS: 

A School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Parents Magazine Best Book of 2020
"Epic." —Parents Magazine, from their 2020 Best Books for Teens list
"Snapdragon invigorates a classic hero's journey with magic and heart."—The AV Club
"Full of magic and humor, this intersectional, layered tale offers joyful and affirming depictions of social outsiders and comfortably complicated families." —Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review and a Publisher's Weekly Best of Book 2020
"Vibrant colors bring a lovable cast and more than a few spells to life." —School Library Journal, fron their Best Books of 2020 list
"This endearingly offbeat story emphasizes found community, the importance of love and friendship, and a fierce commitment to individuality—all powerful themes for middle-grade readers." —Booklist, starred review

Kat Leyh is a Chicago based writer and artist. She's best known as the current co-writer and cover artist for the series Lumberjanes, and for her queer superhero webcomic Supercakes. She's also worked as a cover artist, and back-up writer/artist for several BOOM! Studios series.

The thirty names of night

By Zeyn Joukhadar. 2020.  (US)

“Five years after a suspicious fire killed his ornithologist mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. As his grandmother’s sole caretaker, he spends his days cooped up in their apartment, avoiding his neighborhood masjid, his estranged sister, and even his best friend (who also happens to be his longtime crush). The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria.
  One night, he enters the abandoned community house and finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z, who dedicated her career to painting the birds of North America. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that both his mother and Laila Z encountered the same rare bird before their deaths. In fact, Laila Z’s past is intimately tied to his mother’s—and his grandmother’s—in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z’s story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his own community that he never knew. Realizing that he isn’t and has never been alone, he has the courage to officially claim a new name: Nadir, an Arabic name meaning rare.
  As unprecedented numbers of birds are mysteriously drawn to the New York City skies, Nadir enlists the help of his family and friends to unravel what happened to Laila Z and the rare bird his mother died trying to save. Following his mother’s ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along.

Featuring Zeyn Joukhadar’s signature “magical and heart-wrenching” (The Christian Science Monitor) storytelling, The Thirty Names of Night is a timely exploration of how we all search for and ultimately embrace who we are.”

Winner of the ALA Stonewall Book Award—Barbara Gittings Literature Award //

Named Best Book of the Year by Bustle //

Named Most Anticipated Book of the Year by The Millions, Electric Literature, and HuffPost //
​The author of the “vivid and urgent…important and timely” (The New York Times Book Review) debut
The Map of Salt and Stars returns with this remarkably moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by a mysterious species of bird and the truths they carry close to their hearts.
xx

To be a girl: A transgender girl's breathtaking fight to survive as herself in Victorian England

By Alexandra Hamer. Aug 2021.

"In 1874, at the age of four-and-a-half, Thomas Stanton realises that ‘Thomas’ is a boy's name and that everyone, even her mother, thinks she’s a boy.
  So begins the extraordinary journey of a transgender girl who must not only try to understand what it means to be a girl inside the body of a boy, a century before there was even a name for it, but she must soon find some way to change her body before the horror of puberty casts her as a man forever.
  This is one girl's breathtaking fight to survive as herself, and to be loved for who she is."

REVIEWS:

This is one of the most extraordinary books I've read... It's harrowing in parts, it's glorious in its descriptions and heart-warming with its gentle romance and deep love. Took me on a journey that made me realise the importance of being who we are and recognising that acceptance, tolerance and understanding should be applied in every aspect of our lives. --- Amazon Customer

...totally gripped from start to finish. Hamer’s writing was so vivid and evocative it transported me to another time and place. She doesn’t shy away from the violence and fear of a life as a transgender women in Victorian times but the book is also full of love, hope and joy. Everyone should read this book! --- Jai Mackenzie

...This book will pull you in and let you feel the emotions of the central character. Truly a portal into a world that a lot of us don't understand, but we as humans need to... deeply touching. --- Elaine Simpson

Her feelings, thoughts, and tentative steps to realizing her dream caused me to reflect on my own childhood, a rare achievement in a work of fiction... HW Coyle

I think anyone, trans or not, will enjoy this! --- Caroline M Mathieson

...I just absolutely adore Emmeline as a character; intelligent, resourceful, creative and with big heart... my only complaint is that it had to end.  --- Lily Nichole Robinson

...very quickly became totally enthralled... a real page turner to be read almost at a sitting. --- Robyn Hoode

This is undoubtedly a precursor to a very bright future for the author, well written, broad scope fully intriguing and believable in all ways... a true romantic novel with the grit and love, violence and desperation... I was smitten with the main character and found her totally believable and very relatable... --- Jar

...just a great, gripping story, wonderful characters, and a perfect ending. --- LibrarianCyn

This is not just a book for trans people, it is a book for everyone who has struggled with feeling different, worthless, not good enough, and for everyone lucky enough to have never had those feelings this book will make you more understanding. --- Amazon Customer

...this book instilled genuine fear and excitement and a whole spectrum of emotions I haven't felt from reading a book in the past. And the realism and accuracy truly made it hard to stop reading... This book has genuinely left me stunned and changed my life as a trans woman myself. --- Salem"

Too bright to see!

By Kyle Lukoff.  Apr 2021.  Hardcover coming out May 24, 2022.

"It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn't particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there's something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug's eerie old house in rural Vermont...and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they're trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light -- Bug is transgender."

• A Newbery Honor Book 

• Winner of the Stonewall Book Award  

• A National Book Award Finalist

"A gentle, glowing wonder, full of love and understanding." –The New York Times Book Review

The unintentional time traveler

By Everett Maroon. 2016.  

“Fifteen-year-old Jack Bishop has mad skills with cars and engines, but knows he'll never get a driver's license because of his epilepsy. Agreeing to participate in an experimental clinical trial to find new treatments for his disease, he finds himself in a completely different body--that of a girl his age, Jacqueline, who defies the expectations of her era. Since his seizures usually give him spazzed out visions, Jack presumes this is a hallucination. Feeling fearless, he steals a horse, expecting that at any moment he'll wake back up in the clinical trial lab. When that doesn't happen, Jacqueline falls unexpectedly in love, even as the town in the past becomes swallowed in a fight for its survival. Jack/Jacqueline is caught between two lives and epochs, and must find a way to save everyone around him as well as himself. And all the while, he is losing time, even if he is getting out of algebra class.”

What makes you beautiful

By Bridget Liang. 2019.   (Canada)

“Logan Osborne knows he likes boys, but has not come out to his family or at school, and no one knows that he likes to sometimes wear girls' clothes and makeup. When he starts at a school for the arts he finds a wider range of gender and orientation being accepted. Logan is attracted to Kyle, who has gay dads. But Kyle is straight. Logan finds he doesn't like the way gay boys treat him, and a disturbing hookup with a boy who is fetishistic about Logan's half-Asian background makes Logan even more confused about what he wants and who he is.

   Encouraged and supported by his friends at school, Logan experiments with nail polish and more feminine clothes in public. Logan begins questioning his gender and decides to use they pronouns while trying to figure things out. Logan meets a classmate's chosen mother, who is a transgender Chinese woman, and begins to come to terms with their gender identity. Realizing they are not a gay boy, but a transgender girl, Logan asks for people to call them Veronica. As a girl, does Veronica stand a chance with Kyle?”

"Bridget Liang is a mixed race, queer, transfeminine, autistic, disabled, fat fangirl. They came into their queerness in Hamilton, Ontario, and co-founded RADAR Youth Group at the LGBTQ Wellness Centre (the Well), the first queer group in a Hamilton high school. This is their first novel for teens. Bridget lives in Toronto, Ontario"

Zenobia July

By Lisa Bunkder. 2019.  (US)

“The critically acclaimed author of Felix Yz crafts a bold, heartfelt story about a trans girl solving a cyber mystery and coming into her own.
  Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father; now she's in Maine with her aunts. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she's coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. People used to tell her she was a boy; now she's able to live openly as the girl she always knew she was.
  When someone anonymously posts hateful memes on her school's website, Zenobia knows she's the one with the abilities to solve the mystery, all while wrestling with the challenges of a new school, a new family, and coming to grips with presenting her true gender for the first time. Timely and touching, Zenobia July is, at its heart, a story about finding home.”

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ADULT BOOKS (NOTE:  18+)

Little fish

By Casey Plett.  2018.  (Canada)

“It's the dead of winter in Winnipeg and Wendy Reimer, a thirty-year-old trans woman, feels like her life is frozen in place. When her Oma passes away, Wendy receives an unexpected phone call from a distant family friend with a startling secret: Wendy's Opa (grandfather) -- a devout Mennonite farmer -- might have been transgender himself. At first she dismisses this revelation, but as Wendy's life grows increasingly volatile, she finds herself aching for the lost pieces of her Opa's truth. Can Wendy unravel the mystery of her grandfather's world and reckon with the culture that both shaped and rejected her? She's determined to try.

   Alternately warm-hearted and dark-spirited, desperate and mirthful, Little Fish explores the winter of discontent in the life of one transgender woman as her past and future become irrevocably entwined.”

WINNER, Amazon Canada First Novel Award; Lambda Literary Award; Firecracker Award for Fiction; Finalist, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award; A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year

A safe girl to love

By Casey Plett.  2014.  (Canada)

“Eleven unique short stories that stretch from a rural Canadian Mennonite town to a hipster gay bar in Brooklyn, featuring young trans women stumbling through loss, sex, harassment, and love.”

This is how it always is: A novel
By Laurie Frankel. Jan 2018.  (US)

“This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

   This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

   This is how children change...and then change the world.
  This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

   When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

   Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.
   Laurie Frankel’s This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.”

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