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The month of June is marked by the end of the school year for most students, the beginning of summer, and Pride Month. While often associated with a time for celebration, it is important to honor its history. The first Pride events were held in New York City in June 1970 on the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots that served as a transformative moment in U.S. history. The Library of Congress has more information on these events.
June also serves as a somber reminder of those in the LGBTQIA+ community who have lost their lives to hate crimes as well as the HIV/AIDS crisis. Locally, Tanager Place is home to the LGBTQ Center, which supports youth, teens and families in the Cedar Rapids area.
Here are some young adult book recommendations featuring proudly bisexual characters for Pride month and beyond.
Charlie lives her life out loud as a vlogger and actress who is openly bisexual and excited to show the world she has moved on from a very public breakup. She runs into Alyssa, her long time crush, while at SupaCon, where Charlie is promoting her first movie. In another fandom of the SupaCon, Taylor is a quiet Aspie who likes to blend in but wishes she stood out to her best guy friend Jamie. Maybe the Con is her chance? These two stories are told in alternating chapters of what happens when different communities collide at conventions in “Queens of Geek” by Jen Wilde.
In “Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating” by Adiba Jaigirdar, Hani is an easygoing, popular girl with a great group of friends. OK, not-so-great. When she confides in them that she is bisexual, she is immediately dismissed and told she can’t be bisexual if she’s only ever dated boys. Hani panics at being so quickly invalidated and tells them she does have a girlfriend, Ishu, a studious girl Hani’s friends absolutely hate. Ishu and Hani strike a deal: Ishu will “fake date” Hani to quiet her friends’ ignorance and Hani will “fake date” Ishu to make her more popular and help her get elected Head Girl before she applies for college. It doesn’t take long for the “dating” to become less fake.
Sophie Gonzales’ “Perfect on Paper” explores bierasure with Darcy, the bisexual main character. She runs a questionable anonymous dating advice service through an abandoned locker in her high school. Darcy has feelings for her best friend, Brooke, who definitely has feelings for someone else. Focusing her efforts on the contents of Locker 89, Darcy is caught in the act by the annoying and annoyingly popular Alexander. Alexander agrees to keep her secret if she helps him win back his ex-girlfriend. After spending more time together, are these begrudging enemies turning to chaotic lovers?
Morgan, an openly lesbian athlete, is forced to transfer out of her private Catholic school in her senior year after it is determined that being queer is against the school’s code of conduct. She transfers to a nearby school where she meets Ruby. Ruby is complex, with an overbearing mother, and she is not ready to come out as bisexual. Morgan and Ruby have a budding relationship, but Morgan doesn’t want to hide herself or her relationship, while Ruby is fully closeted and unprepared to change that. Jennifer Dugan’s “Some Girls Do” cautiously explores the complexity of what being true to yourself can mean, especially with regards to LGBTQIA+ communities.
Lara has spent her entire high school experience pining over Chase. Popular, athletic, kind Chase. As if out of nowhere, he’s even speaking to her now — and not just speaking. He’s definitely flirting. Three years of wanting no one else in her life, and he’s finally there. But now she keeps thinking about Jasmine. “Cool for the Summer” by Dahlia Adler captures the chaotic young love of not knowing who is right for you.
“Let’s Talk About Love” by Claire Kann follows Alice, a biromantic, asexual college student trying to gain the courage to tell her parents she does not want to be a doctor. Oh, and her ex-girlfriend broke up with her when Alice confessed that she is asexual. Nothing hits the spot like everything you want being disappointing to the ones you love. While working at her local public library, she meets new employee Takumi and is smitten. But it’s too dangerous to have feelings for someone when they don’t understand you yet, right?
Vetty has had enough, thank you. Her mother died from lymphoma four years before “All the Invisible Things” by Orlagh Collins takes place, and ever since then she has taken on more and more to care for her father and sister. The family is moving back to London, and Vetty is very concerned about her relationship with her childhood friend, Pez. They used to be inseparable, but now that they are teenagers, can boys and girls successfully be … just friends? Are they just friends if Vetty thinks she has feelings for Pez? But maybe she doesn’t have feelings for him — maybe she has feelings for his girlfriend, March.
Nathan loves the movies but is confident happy endings only live there and not in the real world. After so much heartbreak, he’s safer avoiding relationships despite his friend (and former girlfriend) Florence pushing him otherwise. Florence believes Nathan just needs to meet the right person. In a classic, romantic comedy twist, in walks Oliver, Nathan’s childhood best friend. Perhaps this was the meet-cute Nathan was waiting for in Kacen Callender’s “This is Kind of an Epic Love Story.”
In “Faith Takes Flight” by Julie Murphy, Faith is a pretty average high school student with good friends, volunteer work, and a love of pop culture. And she can fly. Managing flying, her growing crush on Johnny, and the exciting news that her favorite show is relocating to her hometown means a summer of chaotic fun, right? Even more exciting is Dakota, an actress from the show, taking a romantic interest in Faith. But soon Faith’s flying powers need to be put to use as animals and then people go missing.
Sarah Voels is a materials librarian at the Cedar Rapids Public Library.