2022 Books by Previous Winners: YA

All (yes, all!) of 2022’s winners have new books coming out that are eligible for the 2023 award, in either children’s or YA. Knowing that much, we got curious: how broad a swath of past winners are represented by the books in this post? Turns out there’s at least one awardee from each of the past seven years of the award with a new queer YA book out this year. That’s pretty remarkable and seems to speak to the opportunities that the explosion of queer YA has given authors to publish more prolifically on LGBTQIA+ themes.

Note: We’ve purposefully excluded titles that appear to have limited queer content but if we’re missing something major, let us know in the comments.

#1. Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi (February 15, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: This timely and riveting novel—a  companion to the National Book Award finalist Pet—explores the power of youth, protest, and art.

Our Thoughts: It’s a companion that could easily be a standalone, with vibrant writing and art poised as a form of revolution. Bonus points for the emphasis on self-care and different ways to engage with protest.

#2. The Chandler Legacies by Abdi Nazemian (February 15, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: From the Stonewall Honor–winning author of Like a Love Story comes a revelatory novel about the enclosed world of privilege and silence at an elite boarding school and the unlikely group of friends who dare to challenge the status quo through their writing.

Our Thoughts: Boarding schools and privilege often go hand-in-hand. This book, inspired by the author’s own experiences, spills some hard truths that feel relevant today despite its late nineties setting.

#3. Destination Unknown by Bill Konigsberg (August 2, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: In Destination Unknown, Bill Konigsberg returns to a time he knew well as a teenager to tell a story of identity, connection, community, and survival in all its heartbreaking, funny, sexy, complicated glory.

Our Thoughts: Konigsberg can be hit or miss for us, but it’s good to have another book set during the height of the AIDS epidemic that can sit alongside We Are Lost and Found and Like a Love Story

#4. How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow (November 1, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: Stonewall Honor author Jake Maia Arlow delivers a sapphic Jewish twist on the classic Christmas rom-com in a read perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Casey McQuiston.

Our Thoughts: After Arlow’s delightful sapphic middle grade debut, we can’t wait to see what she’ll do to our hearts with her first YA novel.

#5. Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram (March 22, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram

Our Thoughts: Boy bands! Boy bands! Boy bands! This book links the fun of concert life while putting the music industry—and fandom—under a necessary microscope.

#6. Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore (March 8, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: In this young adult novel by award-winning author Anna-Marie McLemore, two non-binary teens are pulled into a magical world under a lake – but can they keep their worlds above water intact?

Our Thoughts: One of McLemore’s two (two!!) novels published this year, Lakelore is filled to the brim with their signature gorgeous, hopeful, moving writing and quality representation. With truly excellent representation of neurodivergence (ADHD and dyslexia), we’re hoping the Schneider committee (not to mention Printz!) is strongly considering this one.

#7. Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution by Kacen Callender (September 27, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: From National Book Award–winner Kacen Callender, a contemporary YA that follows Lark’s journey to speak the truth and discover how their own self-love can be a revolution.

Our Thoughts: Considering how much we loved Callender’s last YA, Felix Ever After, we’re excited for their next one, which promises more queer teens learning to love to themselves amid relationship drama and social media messiness. 

#8. Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta (May 24, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: From the Stonewall Award–winning author of The Black Flamingo comes a romantic coming-of-age novel in verse about the beautiful—and sometimes painful—fallout of pursuing the love we deserve.

Our Thoughts: Although we haven’t gotten our hands on this one yet, we’re so glad Atta is back with another thoughtful exploration of queer masculinities!

#9. Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales by Melanie Gillman (September 20, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: Once upon a time . . . happily ever after turned out differently than expected. In this new, feminist, queer fairy-tale collection, you’ll find the princesses, mermaids, knights, barmaids, children, and wise old women who have been forced to sit on the sidelines in classic stories taking center stage.

Our Thoughts: Fairy-tale retellings hold a special place in the canon of queer YA lit; we’re looking forward to seeing what Gillman does to make these stand out.

#10. Queer Ducks (and Other Animals): The Natural World of Animal Sexuality by Eliot Schrefer (May 24, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: This groundbreaking illustrated YA nonfiction title from two-time National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Eliot Schrefer is a well-researched and teen-friendly exploration of the gamut of queer behaviors observed in animals.

Our Thoughts: We were intrigued by this fun, unique nonfiction title that’s getting lots of positive attention, but a few small but glaring errors—most notably the binary-enforcing definition of “bisexual”—knocks this out of the running for us.

#11. A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo (October 4, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: Award-winning author Malinda Lo returns to the Bay Area with another masterful coming-of-queer-age story, this time set against the backdrop of the first major Supreme Court decisions legalizing gay marriage. 

Our Thoughts: The companion novel to Last Night at the Telegraph Club we didn’t know we needed but are overjoyed to have! With the focus on marriage equality, this one may prove to be a very timely addition to historical queer YA. 

#12. Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix by Anna-Marie McLemore (September 6, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: Three teens chase their own version of the American Dream during the Roaring 20s in this YA remix of The Great Gatsby.

Our Thoughts: This is McLemore at their absolute best, and that’s saying something. Do not pass this one over because it’s a retelling, we’re begging you. It’s full of thoughtful explorations and affirmations of identity wrapped up in gorgeous prose and period detail. We’re obsessed.

#13. You Know, Sex : Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg & Fiona Smyth (April 12, 2022)

Publisher Marketing: You Know, Sex is the first thoroughly modern sex ed book for every body navigating puberty and adolescence, essential for kids, everyone who knows a kid, and anyone who has ever been a kid.

Our Thoughts: With What Makes a Baby and Sex Is a Funny Word, Silverberg and Smyth set the standard for quality, inclusive sex ed for kids; we’re thrilled they’re got a third volume for older kids and teens! 

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