Queer Jew­ish YA has got­ten a mag­nif­i­cent boost in the past cou­ple of years. And while there’s still a long way to go in terms of rep­re­sen­ta­tion (case in point: how very white and Ashke­nazi this list is), it’s stun­ning to see just how far we’ve come, across both genre- and iden­ti­ty lines. These books are haunt­ing and fun­ny, inspir­ing and roman­tic, and, most of all, only the begin­ning. So shift seam­less­ly from Jew­ish Amer­i­can Her­itage Month to Pride Month by pick­ing up one, two, or all of these titles!

Mar­go Zim­mer­man Gets the Girl by Bri­an­na Shrum and Sara Waxelbaum 

This dynam­ic duo hits it out of the park for their first time writ­ing togeth­er, alter­nate­ly telling the sto­ries of Mar­go, a new­ly real­ized les­bian, and Abby, the out-and-proud girl who agrees to be Margo’s queer men­tor as she stum­bles her way through her first sojourn under the rain­bow (in exchange for some tutor­ing, of course). With plen­ty of humor to spare, this romance is the Jew­ish and neu­ro­di­ver­gent mashup of Cia­ra Smyth and Kel­ly Quindlen. (This isn’t Shrum’s first for­ay into queer Jew­ish lit, by the way. Do also check out Kiss­ing Ezra Holtz, which fea­tures both a bi pro­tag­o­nist and a great Sukkot scene.)

This Rebel Heart by Kather­ine Locke

Locke is well estab­lished as a mas­ter of Jew­ish his­tor­i­cal fic­tion (if you haven’t checked out their Bal­loon Book duol­o­gy, which uses time trav­el to tie gen­er­a­tions of Jews to WWII, you must). That mas­tery is on full dis­play here, in this lyri­cal­ly stun­ning sto­ry about a girl named Csil­la who ris­es to lead­er­ship dur­ing the 1956 Hun­gar­i­an rebel­lion. When the sto­ry begins, Csil­la is in a pre­car­i­ous place — her par­ents have been mur­dered by the Sovi­et police — but she’s deter­mined to fight for the home she loves, even if it doesn’t love her in return. For her, that means team­ing up with rebel Tamás, and Azriel, who just so hap­pens to be the Angel of Death. And yes, it’s as fas­ci­nat­ing — and polyamorous — as it sounds. 

If you’ve already read and loved Locke’s work, make sure to check out When the Angels Left the Old Coun­try by Sacha Lamb as well.

How to Exca­vate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

There’s noth­ing like a great win­ter hol­i­day romance, but for far too long, and espe­cial­ly in queer lit, that’s meant Christ­mas and Christ­mas only. Enter Arlow with this wit­ty, charm­ing Hanukkah tale that takes Shani and May from an extreme­ly untra­di­tion­al meet-cute to a ban­ter­rif­ic pair­ing nei­ther of them sees coming. 

Arlow’s also a great choice for queer Jew­ish read­ers who aren’t quite up to YA yet. Check out Almost Fly­ing and the upcom­ing The Year My Life Went Down the Toi­let.

From Dust, a Flame by Rebec­ca Podos

Podos’s books have got­ten increas­ing­ly queer and increas­ing­ly Jew­ish, cul­mi­nat­ing with this com­pelling Sap­ph­ic fan­ta­sy of Jew­ish her­itage, grief and mourn­ing, mys­ti­cism, fam­i­ly, and even a lit­tle romance. Han­nah and her fam­i­ly have always lived a nomadic lifestyle, but it’s not tru­ly and deeply strange to her until she wakes up the morn­ing of the sev­en­teenth birth­day she shares with her twin, Gabe, and sees that her eyes have trans­formed into some­thing inhu­man. When her moth­er takes off with the promise of find­ing a cure, leav­ing Han­nah and Gabe alone, they pur­sue their own path to the truth — and find way, way more than they bar­gained for. The inter­gen­er­a­tional weav­ing of sto­ries, specif­i­cal­ly around the Holo­caust, is so famil­iar­ly and tan­gi­bly Jew­ish that this book is like imbib­ing four hun­dred pages of mat­zoh ball soup.

Camp by L.C. Rosen

Jew­ish pro­tag­o­nists and hon­est, clear-cut nar­ra­tives about queer life are both sta­ples of Rosen’s YA nov­els; and while I could’ve eas­i­ly cho­sen Jack of Hearts (and oth­er parts) or his newest book, the extreme­ly fun, Indi­ana Jones–inspired Lion’s Lega­cy, I sim­ply can­not make a Jew­ish book list with­out includ­ing one set at sum­mer camp. The camp in ques­tion, Camp Out­land, makes for the per­fect Pride read, giv­en that it’s entire­ly for queer kids, with iden­ti­ties all over the rain­bow spec­trum. In this delight­ful romance, Randy decides to rein­vent him­self as Del” for the sum­mer, in order to secure the affec­tions of the con­sid­er­ably more masc boy he’s been crush­ing on for­ev­er. But he has to decide just how much of him­self he’s will­ing to give up in order to land some­one who may nev­er love him for exact­ly who he is. 

The City Beau­ti­ful by Aden Polydoros

Poly­doros is the unof­fi­cial kidlit king of queer Jew­ish mytho­log­i­cal fic­tion. In his spec­tac­u­lar his­to­r­i­al hor­ror debut set against the back­drop of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chica­go, a Roman­ian immi­grant named Alter must inves­ti­gate the mur­der of his room­mate Yakov, as a dyb­buk won’t leave his body until he does. With the rest of his fam­i­ly still in the old coun­try, the only per­son Alter has to turn to for help is the very last per­son he should: his crim­i­nal old flame, who agrees to help Alter find out who has killed not just Yakov, but oth­er Jew­ish immi­grant teenage boys. While this book is deeply sin­is­ter and haunt­ing, the old world Judaism is so won­der­ful­ly famil­iar that it’s hard not to fall com­plete­ly in love with the world and char­ac­ters Poly­doros has built. 

Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler 

I can’t make a list of queer Jew­ish fic­tion with­out includ­ing my own work, most notably my brand-new con­tem­po­rary romance, Going Bicoastal! (Feel free to read my oth­er queer Jew­ish nov­el, Cool for the Sum­mer, too.) It stars Natalya aka Nat aka Tal, a bi Jew­ish girl forced to choose between par­ents — and coasts — for the sum­mer, and it alter­nates between her two options: home in NYC, where she spends time with her dad and school friends, attends reg­u­lar Shab­bat din­ners with her Ortho­dox neigh­bors, and final­ly pur­sues the girl she’s been crush­ing on for­ev­er; and away in LA, where she lives with the mom she bare­ly knows (who’s basi­cal­ly cast off all Jew­ish obser­vance), takes up a job that may or may not help her fig­ure out what she wants to do with her life, makes new friends, and meets a boy who man­ages to sur­prise her at every turn. Kashrut, Shab­bat din­ners, and the inter­sec­tion of queer­ness and Judaism all fea­ture in this book that’s very close to my heart, and I hope read­ers enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writ­ing it!

Dahlia Adler (edi­tor) is an edi­tor of math­e­mat­ics by day, the over­lord of LGBTQReads by night, and a Young Adult author at every spare moment in between. She is the edi­tor of the antholo­gies His Hideous Heart (a Junior Library Guild selec­tion) and That Way Mad­ness Lies, and the author of many nov­els, includ­ing Cool for the Sum­mer. She lives in New York with her fam­i­ly and an obscene num­ber of books.