2021 Books By Previous Winners (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of two posts highlighting 2021 titles by previous recipients.

Eleven of the eighteen total Stonewall Book Award winners to date have been books for teens (mostly fiction). The simple fact: books with queer content published for teens far outnumber those for younger audiences. Still, years like 2015, 2019, and 2021 all gave writers for younger readers the gold seal, leaving writers for teens with silver. Will that happen again this year? Here are five new YA releases from previous recipients to get on your radar if they aren’t already.

Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (October 2021)

Publisher marketing: The highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, multiple award-winning novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an achingly romantic, tender tale sure to captivate fans of Adam Silvera and Mary H.K. Choi.

Kazia’s thoughts: Committee members are supposed to solely evaluate the text at hand, and with four starred reviews, this is one to pay attention to. However, readers will have to decide for themselves if Sáenz’s transphobic behavior is something they’re willing to overlook. 

Alec’s thoughts: I reviewed this one for SLJ, which gave one of those stars. It’s twice the size of its predecessor and, in some ways, felt like a different book. Sáenz revisits the transphobic hate crime mentioned in the first book and, I think, tries to make amends. But is it successful?

Fools in Love edited by Ashley Herring Blake & Rebecca Podos (December 2021)

Publisher marketing: Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they reimagine some of the most popular tropes in the romance genre. 

Alec’s thoughts: Such a great roster of authors contributed to this! I don’t think an anthology has ever been honored before and I’d love to see that someday. 

Kazia’s thoughts: I’ve heard that twelve of the fifteen stories feature queer protagonists, and I’m over the moon that we’re getting an anthology of thoroughly queered romance tropes!   

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore (March 2021)

Publisher marketing: When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown.

Kazia’s thoughts: I haven’t had a chance to dive into this one yet, but to be honest I feel like McLemore never misses! 

Alec’s thoughts: I’m with Kazia. McLemore’s writing is just *chef’s kiss*. This was longlisted for the National Book Award, too, so I’m even more eager to read it. 

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson (July 2021)

Publisher marketing: From the author of You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson delivers a stunning novel about being brave enough to be true to yourself, and learning to find joy even when times are unimaginably dark. 

Kazia’s thoughts: After the triumphant success of You Should See Me in a Crown, I am ready for anything and everything Johnson gifts us. 

Alec’s thoughts: I still haven’t read You Should See Me in a Crown and I really need to. So far, it doesn’t seem like reviewers have loved Rise to the Sun to the same degree, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a contender. I’m intrigued by the music festival plot. 

When You Get the Chance by Robin Stevenson & Tom Ryan (May 2021)

Publisher marketing: Follow cousins on a road trip to Pride as they dive into family secrets and friendships in this contemporary novel—perfect for fans of David Levithan and Becky Albertalli.

Alec’s thoughts: I’ve grown to really enjoy Stevenson’s books and I’m excited about this collaboration. Does this book mean Stevenson has effectively written about Pride for every age group now? I kind of love that—and the rainbow road on the cover, of course!

Kazia’s thoughts: I haven’t gotten my hands on this one yet, but who doesn’t love a road trip novel that will tug at your heart? 

Are we missing a book? Have you read any of these yet? Let us know in the comments.