EducationDaily Booklist: Recommended YA books for Pride Month (and beyond…)

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

As Pride Month draws to a close today, this list of recommended YA books explore gender diversity and teenage sexuality with rich storytelling and unforgettable characters.

Euphoria Kids – Alison Evans, 2020

This Melbourne-based author delivers a magical story that celebrates trans identity as an incidental part of an exciting story. It’s a joyful fantasy that pivots away from trans tragedies.
Evans blends reality with wonder, and YA readers will love its beautiful atmosphere and its portrayal of vital friendships.

The Boy from the Mish – Gary Lonesborough, 2021

This debut YA novel is an extraordinary coming-of-age story of first love, community and discovering who you are. Seventeen-year-old Jackson lives with his family on the Mish in rural NSW. He’s just broken up with his girlfriend, and he’s struggling with his conflicted feelings and confronting parts of himself he has always kept secret.

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories – anthology, edited by Michael Earp, 2019 

This anthology of fiction stories is written by queer Australian YA authors. The stories, from some of Australia’s finest writers and newcomers, and include tales of fantasy, empowerment, darkness, fantasy, sci-fi that explore what it means to be queer – and what it means to be human. Featuring Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.

I Wish You All the Best – Mason Deaver, 2019

Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as non-binary – and is kicked out of home. When they move in with their estranged older sister, the traumatic situation transforms into fresh opportunities.

Dancing Barefoot – Alice Boyle, 2022

This book won the 2021 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Dancing Barefoot is a feel-good romance about growing up queer, figuring out your place in the world, staying true to yourself and your friends, finding love, and learning to embrace the obstacles life throws in your path.

Breathless – Jennifer Niven, 2020

Compulsively readable and impossible to forget, this luminous novel from this best-selling American author is an insightful portrait of a young woman ready to write her own story. It’s about a about a sensitive girl ready to live her bravest life–sex, heartbreak, family dramas, and all.

Words on Bathroom Walls – Julia Walton, 2017

Adam is a pretty regular teen, except he’s navigating high school life while living with paranoid schizophrenia. But as the miracle drug begins to fail, how long can he keep this secret from the girl of his dreams? This explores some dark territory as an exploration of adolescent sexuality with the backdrop of mental illness.

The cover if felix-ever-after book, featuring Feliz, on a singlet and a flower crown on an orange background

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]