I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Chloe Green has survived almost four years in her ultra-conservative high school, focused on the one thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her fiercest rival is Shara Wheeler – it-girl, prom queen, practically perfect. But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe – and vanishes.
On the surface, Prince Jones and Danielle Ford live in separate worlds – he’s the popular kid, not just in school, but in all of Detroit, charming the city with his insight as DJ LoveJones on his uncle’s radio show. Meanwhile, Dani’s spent the last year doing everything she can to stay out of the spotlight, focused only on earning a spot in NYU’s competitive undergraduate writing programme. When they collide in the local library, they start a remix that brings out the best of both their tracks and reminds us that even though love loves to play, it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.
Brighton Funk is a coming-of-age love story set in Brighton in the 1970s, the debut novel from Nofel Nawras. Naseem, or Naz, is a young boy deeply troubled by the world around him. His relationship with his father is practically non-existent. The book opens in the middle of an argument between the young boy and his father, and their relationship only deteriorates from there.
Steve Light has illustrated this book beautifully. The cover draws you in with its intimate detail and sharp contrast of colours. The first page introduces us to Lazlo who is on a quest to give a rose to his love. However, a mischievous cat intervenes and so the story begins to unfold. We are taken on an adventure as we weave through a theatre and its actors, set makers, musicians, props and the audience. It’s a fast chase through the whole building and the backstage world of Alice in Wonderland.
We Come Apart
We Come Apart, a collaborative project between Crossan and Conaghan, is a three-part novel written in alternating voices. The text is in a fractured format, which will be familiar to Crossan’s fans. As you would expect from writers at the top of their game, it seizes the reader’s attention from the first page.
In the acknowledgements of this stunning work, arguably the most important and impressive gay teenage novel ever published in Britain, Patrick Ness cites two influences: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever. He utilises the structure of the former and Blume’s empathetic frankness, making both very much his own. The novel is also informed, perhaps, by elements of authorial experience: Adam Thorn, like his creator, is a gay American from an evangelical background.
Guard Your Heart
Aidan spiralled into grief after his mother died, making every mistake a teenager can possibly make. Now, he’s focused on finishing his exams, and determined to get a one-way ticket out of Derry. Not that he doesn’t love his city, but the wider world beckons – a world where it doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, an Irish speaker or if your father carried a gun.