Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

50+ YA Books Starring Queer Girls Hitting Shelves in 2020

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Tirzah Price

Senior Contributing Editor

Most of Tirzah Price's life decisions have been motivated by a desire to read as many books as humanly possible. Tirzah holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has worked as an independent bookseller and librarian. She’s also the author of the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries, published by HarperTeen, and Bibliologist at TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations. Follow her on Twitter @TirzahPrice.

When I set out to compile a list of YA books starring queer girls as protagonists and point-of-view characters hitting shelves in 2020, I had hoped to find that the number of books releasing had gone up from last year. I did not expect to find an explosion of queer girl YA, but it looks like 2020 is shaping up to be a very gay year! And what’s more, this list is actually more diverse than any in years past (although we could always do better on this front).

This list is by no means complete as publishers aren’t always great about marketing their releases as LGBTQ+ interest. I’ve also done my best to confirm that a central, point of view, or in the case of ensembles casts, a significant female-identifying character is queer, but in a couple of cases I have assumed such character exists based on the author’s body of previous work. In some instances, I’ve had to rely on what other readers have said about the book. I cannot guarantee 100% accuracy as I’ve not read all of these books! Either way, they all sound amazing and are sure topple your TBR. What a way to kick off the decade! Here we go!


We Used to Be FriendsWe Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding

This book follows two childhood best friends through the dissolution of their friendship as they head off to college. One of the point of view characters is queer, with a girlfriend.

Out January 7.

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

A gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo stars a young woman named Amaya who finds unimaginable riches and uses them to exact revenge on the person who ruined her.

Out January 7.

Dark and Deepest RedDark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

This is a retelling of The Red Shoes that spans centuries, and as per usual, McLemore’s books are bursting with queer characters across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum!

Out January 14.

Storm of Life by Amy Rose Capetta

In this sequel to The Brilliant Death, Teadora and Cielo must unite the streghe of the land to overthrow a dictator.

Out January 28.

Deathless DivideDeathless Divide by Justina Ireland

The sequel to Dread Nation follows protagonist Jane as she heads West in search of her mother.

Out February 4.

Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller

A fantasy standalone, this novel is about a noblewoman and commoner who swap lives in order to pursue their dreams, only to have their futures challenged when war breaks out.

Out February 4.

We Unleash the Merciless StormWe Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia

In this sequel to We Set the Dark on Fire, Carmen must choose between the rebellion or the girl she loves.

Out February 25.


The First 7 by Laura Pohl

In this second book in the The Last 8 duology, Clover and her crew search for survivors on Earth and uncover a shocking secret.

Out March 3.

Havenfall by Sara Holland

Maddie Morrow is destined to become the caretaker of Havenfall, a magical place that connects two worlds. But when a new girl arrives in town and a dead body is found, dark secrets emerge.

Out March 3.

When We Were MagicWhen We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

A group of teen witches find their loyalty to each other tested when a boy ends up dead on prom night as the result of some wayward magic, and they have to set things right.

Out March 3.

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E Latimer

Dayna is a recently outed Irish teen who is struggling with somatic OCD and looking forward to finally being initiated into her local coven when another coven with a bad reputation moves in and a murder shakes their community.

Out March 3.

The Midnight LieThe Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

A new fantasy set in the world of The Winner’s Curse, this book is about a character with a secret who must seek out magic and change her destiny.

Out March 3.

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

In an alternate French Revolution with magic, Camille is a Revolutionary’s daughter and fighter for the resistance when they rescue a mysterious young woman with great power, wanted by both sides.

Out March 5.

A Phoenix First Must BurnA Phoenix First Must Burn: 16 Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope edited by Patrice Caldwell

Although not explicitly a queer anthology, this book features stories from an array of voices, and contains some queer storylines and characters.

Out March 10.

Super Adjacent by Crystal Cestari

A funny and lighthearted novel about four teens working for a branch of superheroes in Chicago, whose love lives and friendships tangle with the all-important mission of keeping the world safe.

Out March 17.

We Were Promised SpotlightsWe Were Promised Spotlights by Lindsey Sproul

Set in 1999, this book is about a homecoming queen desperate to leave her small town and admit that she’s gay and in love with her best friend.

Out March 24.

Music From Another World by Robin Talley

Set in 1977, this historical novel is about two teen girls who become penpals during anti-gay political fervor, and how their relationship bolsters them to be brave and take a stand for justice.

Out March 31.

LookLook by Zan Romanoff

A queer coming of age novel about an online influencer whose life takes a turn when her secret is exposed to her followers, and must remake herself in a glamorous old Hollywood hotel undergoing restoration.

Out March 31.

Queen of Coin & Whispers by Helen Corcoran

When a young queen inherits an unstable kingdom, she hires a spymaster to help her restore order. But both young women are hiding secrets and will have to learn to trust one another if they’re to survive.

Out April 6.

Girl CrushedGirl Crushed by Katie Heaney

When Quinn’s first girlfriend breaks up with her at the start of senior year, she decides to throw herself into a new crush and a new love story. But the more she does so, the more she misses her first girlfriend. Can they have a second chance at love?

Out April 7.

Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

This sequel to Once & Future finds Ari and Merlin traveling back in time to find the Holy Grail.

Out April 7.

Late to the PartyLate to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

Codi is not the kind of teen who goes to parties or has wild nights out. But when her friends convince her to give a party a shot, she forges an unexpected relationship with a fellow gay teen who opens up her world.

Out April 21.

When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson

In this new YA collaboration, two cousins (who both happen to be queer) are reunited after their grandfather dies, and head to Toronto for Pride.

Out May 5.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

A young woman escaping poverty poses as a male pirate and falls in love with a young noblewoman headed into an arranged marriage she dreads.

Out May 5.

The henna WarsThe Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Two teens girls enter into a competition with their own henna painting businesses, only to fall for each other along the way. (Adiba is a Book Riot contributor.)

Out May 12.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Soraya is a princess who is poisonous to the touch, living apart from the rest of the world. But when her twin’s wedding approaches, she must decide if she’ll continue to live in the shadows.

Out May 12.

Out NowOut Now: Queer We Go Again edited by Saundra Mitchell

A follow-up anthology to All Out, full of short stories by a wide array of YA authors and voices!

Out May 26.

I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch

Two girls who are hyper competitive in real life unknowingly are collaborators on a graphic novel on an online fan fiction site.

Out May 26.


Six Angry GirlsSix Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner

Six teen girls form a mock trial team to rival the boys’ team, and take on knitting to make political statements about how they’ve been mistreated.

Out June 2.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Liz desperately needs the scholarship awarded to prom king and queen if she’d going to pursue her dreams, but her bid for the throne is complicated by her crush on the new girl—who is also running for prom queen.

Out June 2.

The Dark TideThe Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinka

In a land where a sacrifice must be made to keep their island city from sinking, two young women trying to save the ones they love fall for each other and must decide who—or what—to save as flood waters rise.

Out June 2.

The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth

Relationship-averse Saoirse and Ruby spend one great, beautiful summer having dates worthy of any romcom falling-in-love montage, but when summer is over, can they really just go their own separate ways?

Out June 9.

This Is All Your FaultThis Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi

Three girls working for an independent bookstore clock into work on the first day of summer and learn that the store is in danger of closing—and concoct a wild plan to save it.

Out June 9.

The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell

Rosie and Ivory have grown up in the circus, but when they return to their hometown for the act of their careers, disaster strikes. This is billed as a queer retelling of “Snow-White and Rose-Red.”

Out June 16.

I'll Be the OneI’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee

Skye Shin wants to be a K-pop star more than anything, and she doesn’t care what anyone has to say about her weight. But when she nails her audition for a K-pop competition, she finds that old ideas about weight and beauty are difficult to challenge in the K-pop world.

Out June 16.

You’re Next by Kylie Schachte

When Flora discovers the dead body of her ex-girlfriend, she decides to take matters into her own hands and uncovers a vast conspiracy with terrifying implications.

Out June 23.

Not Your Hero by C.B. Lee

The fourth book in the Not Your Sidekick series, which features diverse queer characters and superhero adventure.

Out in June.

Cinderella is DeadCinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Set 200 years after the Cinderella story we know, the kingdom requires all girls to appear at the ball and be chosen by potential husbands. Sophia would rather marry her female best friend, so she runs away from the ball and inadvertently starts a revolution.

Out July 7.

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Alice has always felt like an anomaly because she’s never had a crush on anyone, much less kissed or gone on a date. When her new college roommate promises to help her figure out her love life, Alice discovers that maybe she’s asexual, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Out July 9.

Love is for LosersLove is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann

Phoebe thinks love is for losers and vows to never fall in love…until she meets Emma, who just might challenge all her theories about love and relationships.

Out July 14.

Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters

Shady Grove has inherited her father’s fiddle, which has the ability to call up ghosts. When her brother is accused of murder, she’ll have to use it to clear his name.

Out July 21.

The Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

When Ash dies after a tragic accident, she’s chosen to become a reaper in the afterlife. But she can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and vows to find her again.

Out in July.


Throwaway Girls by Andrea Contos

Caroline is the model student hiding a secret girlfriend, but when her best friend disappears and she begins her own investigation, she uncovers an unsettling pattern of missing girls…and she’s the only one to link them all together.

Out September 1.

Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall

A closeted bisexual teen loses her secret girlfriend and cannot share her grief with anyone else.

Out September 15.

Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia

Two girls take on their town’s annual beauty pageant in the hope of saving a beloved diner and changing their destinies.

Out September 22.

Under Shifting Stars Alexandra Latos

Twin sisters grapple with changing relationships in the wake of their brother’s death.

Out September 29.

Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

When a self-absorbed young woman accidentally kills the only person in her city with the ability to create water, she must venture out in search of the magic to save her city.

Out in September.

Zara Hossain is HereZara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan

Zara Hossain likes to keep a low profile in her Texas town, but when she speaks up against a bigot, the retribution is swift and it escalates into a violent act that will change her family’s lives forever.

Out November 10.

Tell No Tales by Sam Maggs and Kendra Wells

A graphic novel about two nonfictional queer lady pirates!

Out sometime in 2020.

There are two more titles starring queer girls that might be releasing in late 2020, but I haven’t been able to confirm. The first is the third book in Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy. The last two books have come out in November 2018 and 2019 respectively, so there is a decent chance that we can expect the third in November 2020, but sometimes final books in a trilogy need a little more time. It’s also been rumored that Malinda Lo’s historical debut, Last Night at the Telegraph Club might finally make its debut in 2020—which would be AWESOME! I’ve been following Malinda’s progress on social media and I have been loving the snippets of research she’s shared.

Are there any great YA books starring queer girls that I’ve missed? Let me know on Twitter! And tell me which books you’re most excited to read!