Have you ever wanted to learn more about the world but not sure where to start? Looking to relax with a good book but unsure of how to find the representation you want?
Well, look no further.
Here are ten diverse young adult reads you should check out this summer.
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Assassins, angst, enemies to lovers. All the makings of a fantastic adventure set across the sands of a world based on Ancient Arabia. Seventeen-year-old Zafira is the Hunter, a girl disguised as a man in order to provide for her people. When the sultan asks her to go on a quest for an item that will bring magic back to their realm, she has no idea that Nasir, the sultan’s son and notorious assassin, is on her trail. And he has orders to kill her. An ancient darkness is stirring, and it may just have other plans altogether.
If you’re interested in beautiful world-building, astounding prose, slow-burn romance, and a second book already on the shelves, this book is for you.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
So you liked the Shadowhunter Chronicles, but maybe you felt like you were missing something? A little mystery? Some diversity?
Sixteen-year-old Black student Bree Matthews is living in a residential program for gifted high schools at UNC-Chapel Hill. She’s excited to get away from her childhood home in exchange for some peace and quiet.
Until a magical demon attacks.
Bree is thrust into a magical world where a secret society of magicians calling themselves “Legendborn” hunts these creatures down. When a young mage fails to erase the event from Bree’s mind, Bree unlocks a memory that reveals her own magic and the presence of another mage at the hospital the night her mother died. She makes it her mission to infiltrate Legendborn and discover what really happened to her mother.
This book is popular for its stunning urban fantasy and its tackling of race issues, the loss of a parent, and found family.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
If you keep up with book news or have turned on Netflix recently, you know that Six of Crows is a big deal right now. So, if you’re a fan of Six of Crows’ found family, an impossible heist, and a steam-punk world, but you’re ready for a little more diversity, you need to check out Gilded Wolves. It’s 1899 in Paris, and hotelier and master treasure hunter Severin Montagnet-Alarie has been dragged into a mission by the elite Order of Babel. He’s made an offer he can’t refuse: his true inheritance. Severin puts together a crew for the mission, including an engineer, a historian in exile, a dancer with a dark past, and his own brother in arms. Together, this unlikely group may change the course of history if they can make it out alive.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Interested in a classic mystery novel, dark academia, and a cast of characters that deal with mental health issues in a meaningful way? Truly Devious follows Stevie Bell, true-crime aficionado and prodigy, who attends the elite private school Ellingham Academy with one mission in mind: to solve the Ellingham kidnapping. But when murders begin to take place after her arrival, Stevie is on the case, and she can’t help but feel that everything is connected.
This book features a diverse cast of characters, from Black girls in STEM to nonbinary persons. And they all make up Stevie’s found family at Ellingham. Most importantly, Stevie deals with an anxiety disorder, which she must overcome as she continues to navigate a new school, and of course, the mystery.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
This book has won several awards, including the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The story follows Xiomara Batista, who has struggled with fitting into her Harlem neighborhood ever since her body began to get curvy. Outwardly, she reacts toward others with harsh words and fists. Privately, Xiomara pours her feelings and frustrations into poetry wrapped in a leather-bound notebook, including her feelings about her classmate Aman. When she’s invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, Xiomara can’t stop thinking about participating in spite of her mother’s strict religious beliefs and her nervousness to share her work with the world. Even so, Xiomara might find the courage to speak out.
This book explores self-confidence, Black identity, and the importance of finding one’s voice.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Love the aesthetic of the 1950s, but wish you knew more beyond the pink-washed houses of suburbia? Look no further. Last Night at the Telegraph Club follows Chinese American Lily Hu, a seventeen-year-old senior with a love for rocket building and aspirations to become an engineer. But, of course, it’s the 1950s, and Lily is expected to get married and have a family. Even so, she longs for a place in the engineering world. So when she finds a flyer for The Telegraph Club, she wonders if she might want a place there too. When Katherine Miller takes Lily to the Telegraph Club, the pair fall into a romance that they’ll have to fight to protect. If you’re looking for a book that handles queer issues with historical accuracy, explores queer culture in 1950s San Francisco, and tackles Chinese American history and communism, this book is for you.
Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Who doesn’t love a good fake dating trope? High school student Frank Li is caught between his parents’ push for Korean tradition and his Southern Californian upbringing. When he finds out that Joy Song is experiencing a similar problem, the two decide to make a pact in order to gain some freedom. It’s a perfect plan until, of course, they begin to fall for each other. Come for the romance, and stay for the profound exploration of Korean American experiences.
Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore
This book is a recent release and already receiving great reviews. Carey Parker has dreams of being a diva. They can belt any Broadway number and nail every single note. But, dealing with the aftermath of an incident with a homophobic classmate and the quick onset of their grandmother’s dementia, Carey has difficulty finding the courage to pursue their dream.
When they meet singer/guitarist Cris, Carey feels truly seen for the first time in their life and decides to audition for the role of Elphaba in their school musical. This sets off a major negative reaction in their school, giving Carey, Cris, and their friends cause to defend themselves.
If you’re looking for a book that explores what it means to be genderqueer alongside a breathtaking romance, this book is for you.
I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver
Excited about genderqueer representation and ready for a nonbinary main character? I Wish You All The Best follows Ben, a senior in high school who is kicked out of his home when they come out to their parents as nonbinary. Taken in by their older sister and her husband, Ben changes schools, where they discover a love of painting and meet Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student who can’t seem to leave Ben alone.
Not only does Ben’s experiences explore what it means for family members and friends to respect their gender identity, but it also shows what it means for Ben to gain confidence in themself and find love along the way.
If you want a book to make you cry in the first ten pages and then wrap you in a hug, this is the read for you.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This book has been out for some time and is getting a sequel this summer! If you haven’t checked out the world of Aristotle and Dante, now is a perfect time. Aristotle is an angry boy with a brother in prison. Dante is a fast-talking know-it-all with academics for parents. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they find they may have a friendship that will last a lifetime, and maybe even a little more.
This story explores Hispanic American experiences, identity discovery, friendship, and love. It received the Stonewall Award for its stellar gay representation, and its sequel will be coming soon this October. Don’t wait to check it out!
All of these books are perfect for relaxing and learning over the summer. Be sure to check trigger warnings before reading, and dive in!