15 Impactful YA Books About Identity
From debuts to beloved bestsellers, these YA books cover topics of identity, belonging, and finding your voice. Scroll down for 15 of our recommended reads!
Chasing Pacquiao by Rod Pulido
Experience the extreme joys, sorrows, and triumphs of a queer Filipino-American teenager struggling to prove himself in an unforgiving world. A poignant coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Patron Saints of Nothing and Juliet Takes a Breath.
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sabaa Tahir comes a brilliant, unforgettable, and heart-wrenching contemporary novel about family and forgiveness, love and loss, in a sweeping story that crosses generations and continents.
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.
From Here by Luma Mufleh
In her coming-of-age memoir, refugee advocate Luma Mufleh writes of her tumultuous journey to reconcile her identity as a gay Muslim woman and a proud Arab-turned-American refugee.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root—that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
In a summer bursting with queer brown dance parties, a sexy fling with a motorcycling librarian, and intense explorations of race and identity, Juliet learns what it means to come out–to the world, to her family, to herself.
The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be by Shannon Gibney
Part memoir, part speculative fiction, this novel explores the often surreal experience of growing up as a mixed-Black transracial adoptee.
Free Radicals by Lila Riesen
Afghan-American Mafi’s sophomore year gets a whole lot more complicated when she accidentally exposes family secrets, putting her family back in Afghanistan in danger in this smartly written YA debut.
Not Everyone Is Going to Like You by Rinny Perkins
A debut illustrated manifesto by Rinny Perkins (@RinnyRiot) about what she’s learned as a queer Black woman through the art of self-validation.
Coming soon: books to look forward to!
True True by Don P. Hooper – Coming August 1
In this powerful and fast-paced YA contemporary debut, a Black teen from Brooklyn struggles to fit in at his almost entirely-white Manhattan prep school, resulting in a fight and a plan for vengeance.
All You Have to Do by Autumn Allen – Coming August 29
Powerful, thought-provoking, and heartfelt, this debut YA novel by author Autumn Allen is a gripping look at what it takes (and takes and takes) for two Black students to succeed in prestigious academic institutions in America.
The Meadows by Stephanie Oakes – Coming September 12
A queer, YA Handmaid’s Tale meets Never Let Me Go about a dystopian society bent on relentless conformity, and the struggle of one girl to save herself and those she loves from a life of lies.
Salt the Water by Candice Iloh – Coming October 10
Salt the Water is a book about dreaming in a world that has other plans for your time, your youth, and your future. It asks, what does it look like when a bunch of queer Black kids are allowed to dream? And what does it look like for them to confront the present circumstances of the people they love while still pursuing a wildly different future of their own?
Huda F Cares by Huda Fahmy – Coming October 10
The Fahmys are off to Disney World, but self-conscious Huda worries her family will stand out too much. It’s a vacation of forced (but unexpectedly successful?) sisterly bonding, a complicated new friendship, a bit more independence, and some mixed feelings about her family’s public prayers. Huda is proud of her religion and who she is, but she still sure wishes she didn’t care so much what other people thought.