By Victoria Garcia
June to many people might be just another month, but to people in the LGBTQ+ community, this month is a time of acceptance and remembrance, also known as Pride Month. The LGBTQ+ community struggles to be accepted by society and governments alike; people of color who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community struggle even more so.
Though Pride Month is celebrated nationwide, the LGBTQ+ community faces a constant struggle. Yes, many businesses show support by selling rainbow-colored Pride apparel, but many families awake to their Pride flags torn and burnt.
So in the spirit of Pride, I will highlight a few YA WLW books you must read this Pride Month.
WLW stands for Women Love Women, which is an abbreviation for Women who Love Women. This is an umbrella term used for LGBTQ+ women who romantically love women. It is often used by women to describe romantic and sexual relationships with women.
In the context of LGBTQ+ relationships, WLW relationships are often scorned, fetishized, or not seen as real relationships. When media shows “Gay Pride,” it often promotes relationships between men. When you think of all the popular LGBTQ+ books and movies, they feature MLM, Men who Love Men, relationships. Love, Simon; They Both Die at the End; Call Me By Your Name; Red, White & Royal Blue; Love, Victor; The Song of Achilles. While it is good that these relationships are represented, there are other forms of LGBTQ+ relationships besides MLM relationships.
Many WLW readers can relate to and enjoy the content of these books, as they showcase WLW relationships in a refreshing and loving spotlight. Here are seven YA WLW books you must read this Pride Month!
You may also like: 5 Amazing Children’s Books Featuring LGBTQ+ Characters
YA WLW Books You Must Read
1. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
In Girls of Paper and Fire, love is found where it shouldn’t exist. Two consorts to the demon king fall in love while learning skills to please the king. The romance heals these two women who have been broken by the life they were forced into, but their relationship is still forbidden. The women must rebel against the oppressive society to be together and take back their bodies, lives, and hearts.
This fantasy world is inspired by the author’s Malaysian culture. Trigger warning for rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, slavery, and torture. The themes of this novel can get dark, so please read within your own bounds.
2. The Road Between by Courtney Peppernell
The Road Between is a poetry anthology. The author uses her own voice to describe a relationship between two women. WLW readers can personally connect to the poems. This book isn’t about heartbreak, but rather self-love. This book leads the reader to the sun after a long thunderstorm, giving them strength to find the way home.
3. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
We Are Okay explores a common reaction in every WLW life: running away. When hit with the realization of your own deep feelings, you can’t help but want to run away, whether emotionally or physically. This is what Marin has done.
Marin has run away from her past life. She buries the life she left behind under a new life at a New York college. But no matter how far she runs, Marin can’t escape her old life and the tragedy that chased her away.
Now Marin is waiting for her best friend, Mabel, whose arrival will reawake everything she left behind. Only when Marin confronts her feelings will she be able to heal her heart.
This novel is about self-acceptance, discovery, and friendship. Just as much as WLW want love, we also want to be accepted by the ones we love and feel understood by ourselves and others.
4. You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson
In this enemies to lovers novel, Liz Lighty believes she can never shine in her small, rich town. But it doesn’t bother her too much because Liz is getting out of Indiana (as long as everything goes according to her plan).
In a horrible turn of events, Liz’s plan falls apart. Just as she begins to lose all hope of ever leaving her oppressive town, Liz remembers her school’s prom queen and king scholarship. While Liz wants nothing to do with the hassle of prom, she is willing to do anything to get out of her hometown.
The competition is already tough and only grows more frustrating when a new challenger arrives—Mack. Liz struggles to keep her head in the game, caught between falling for her competitor and figuring out how to win.
You Should See Me in A Crown is a lovely example of queer representation and is a wonderful WLW read because the romance isn’t the entire plot, as Liz never loses sight of what matters most to her.
5. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura
In It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, Sana holds in her feelings, believing the world could never understand her. She keeps quiet about her hurt feelings when her friends don’t invite her to parties. She keeps quiet about her dad’s affair. And she keeps quiet about the crush she is developing on her best friend.
All these feelings and secrets start catching up to Sana when she moves to California. It’s becoming harder to ignore her dad’s affair and even harder to ignore her interest in girls, especially after meeting Jamie. Sana tries her best to get close to Jamie, but discovers conflict involving both of their friend groups.
Despite this, Sana wants to let go of her feelings. But Sana will learn “coming out” is the easy part. Life after revealing her secret to the world is the hard part. Sana will find that her feelings are harder to control than what she expected.
6. The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
In this sapphic retelling of a popular Greek myth, Persephone has everything she could want, except freedom. But a chance at choice arrives when Persephone meets Hades, the goddess of the Underworld.
Persephone has grown up sheltered, treated as a fragile flower that needs protecting from the harsh winds of the world. But Persephone is courageous, and through her courage she reclaims herself and fights for her love.
In this heartwarming, female-focused novel, the gods are punished for their wrongdoings, relationships between the Olympians are detailed, and sexualities are not focused on because it’s Ancient Greece and everyone is gay in Ancient Greece.
7. Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen
In Her Name in the Sky, Hannah wants to have the kind of senior year that’s seen on TV, filled with fun, love, and memories. The last thing she wants is to fall in love with her best friend, Baker.
Like many WLW, Hannah feels the pressure of compulsive heterosexuality when nice guy Wally asks her to prom. Wally is nice and a guy, what more could a girl want? It would make everyone’s lives easier if Hannah liked Wally, but Hannah wants to be with Baker, not Wally.
And just maybe, Baker wants to be with Hannah too. Both girls will have to take a chance on each other to discover love.
As a lesbian myself, I struggle to find YA books that portray WLW relationships in a normalized way like straight relationships. While some of these books emphasize coming out, others have normalized the idea of WLW. I find this refreshing as it makes the reading journey more enjoyable.
I hope WLW readers enjoy the books above and find comfort in the stories. Happy Pride Month to all LGBTQ+ readers!