Graphic by Marcelo Orrico.
Pride Month celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community and its history, and it’s an especially great time to pick up a queer book. This June, Shifter wanted to show some extra love to women-loving-women with these sapphic recommendations.
"One Last Stop" by Casey McQuiston
Non-binary, bisexual author
“But, you know, that feeling? When you wake up in the morning and you have somebody to think about? Somewhere for hope to go?”
–– Casey McQuiston, "One Last Stop"
Casey McQuiston has done it again. The Red, White & Royal Blue author just released her first sapphic novel featuring characters August Landry, a pancake waitress, and Jane Su, August’s charming, punk-rock love interest straight out of the 70s.
August soon realizes that Jane’s edgy look isn’t 70s inspired; Jane is literally from 1970. August’s innocent subway crush turns into a mystery to solve, and this reformed girl detective decides it’s time to risk it all for a magical, timeless romance.
The cast of characters includes a queer sculptor with a skateboard, a transgender part-time psychic, a broody tattoo artist and an accountant with a drag alter-ego. These characters will have you belly-laughing as you read. No side character is unexplored, and each character contributes effortless one-liners and comes with their own fleshed-out persona.
"One Last Stop" captures modern queer culture from the first page when McQuiston slanders Libras to the last chapter where our star-crossed lovers get their unique happily-ever-after. If you’re looking for a masterpiece of a novel to read for Pride Month, look no further — "One Last Stop" has you covered.
"The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“Don't ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box. Don't do that.”
― Taylor Jenkins Reid, "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo"
Monique Grant has a shot to write the exclusive of a lifetime. Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo decides it’s time for her to release a tell-all biography, and she’s ready to give Monique all of the hidden details of her shocking and alluring lifestyle (and, of course, she’s ready to spill about the seven husbands she’s had along the way).
Evelyn walks Monique through her whirlwind career, her endless high-profile scandals and most importantly, she introduces Monique to the true love of her life. The Cuban socialite also makes sure Monique hears the impact racism, sexism and homophobia in Old Hollywood had on marginalized actors like herself.
Even in her old age, Evelyn has still got it. After hearing Evelyn’s life story — every unbelievable twist and soul-stirring romance — Monique has her hands full. “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid has the perfect whirlwind, sapphic romance to carry you through Pride, and it’ll tug on your heartstrings in the best way possible.
"Bingo Love" by Tee Franklin
Black, gay, disabled woman author
“There are so many various love equations and none of them are wrong. Love is love is love is love.”
–– Tee Franklin, “Bingo Love”
In 1963, Hazel met the love of her life, Mari, at the church’s bingo night. At the time the girls were in middle school. The young lovers exchanged innocent kisses and had deep talks in their backyards until Mari’s grandmother caught them. Facing the threat of being disowned by their families, the girls lost contact for 50 years.
Now grandmothers, they unexpectedly reunite at a bingo night. Their beautiful romance from formative days returns, but now they have a lot more than bigoted grandmas to hide from.
Narrated by Hazel, Bingo Love tells the “Notebook”-esque story of her and her wife. Forced apart by society and their families, they still manage to find each other. But Mari’s declining health poses a new threat. Their families, ex-husbands and therapists all have something to say. These queer, Black grandmas find the courage to stay true to their hearts and show their children there’s always hope. This comic book perfectly encapsulates wholesome gay love, which is perfect for Pride Month.
"Crier’s War" by Nina Varela
Queer female author
“Humanity is how you act, my lady, not how you were made.”
― Nina Varela, "Crier's War"
In a world ruled by the android-like Automae, Ayla seeks revenge. She lost everything in an Automae raid. Her family. Her livelihood. Her innocence and faith in the world. Crier, the heir to the Sovereign who ordered the brutal raid, becomes Ayla’s target. Killing Crier is the goal...but nothing goes according to plan.
This slow-burn sci-fi romance keeps you guessing and breathless. Unlike most queer novels, LGBTQIA+ relationships aren’t taboo in this society, but relationships between humans and Automae are different. Ayla hates Crier’s kind for what they did to her family, but can’t help falling in love with her.
This novel stands out with its refreshing take on queerness. It’s a perfect escape for Pride Month if you’re tired of facing the reality of our world’s views on the LGBTQIA+ community. Ayla and Criers’ romance is at the heart of “Crier’s War” and through them Varela explores what exactly love is and what makes us human.
"Girl Made of Stars" by Ashley Herring Blake
Bisexual female author
“It’s changed me forever, but changed doesn’t have to mean broken.”
― Ashley Herring Blake, "Girl Made of Stars"
"Girl Made of Stars" is uncomfortably real. Published during the peak of the #MeToo movement, the novel follows protagonist Mara after her close friend, Hannah, accuses her twin brother, Owen, of rape. Hannah’s accusation puts Mara’s close bond with her twin to the test and brings Mara’s ex-girlfriend Charlie back into her life.
Rumors surrounding Hannah and Owen make high school unbearable. Eventually, Mara can’t avoid the reality of her situation. Could her brother actually be guilty of rape? Charlie thinks so. Tensions rise and old relationship problems return. Navigating college applications, rekindling romance and finding a way to stay loyal to her family and her morals make for a stressful senior year. And all the accusations flying around cause Mara’s own buried sexual trauma to resurface.
"Girl Made of Stars" shows the devastating effects of victim-blaming and the aftermath of sexual assault. This heart-wrenching queer, feminist novel is more than worth a read this June.
There are plenty of sapphic novels on the market. Check out this list to find even more beautiful books starring queer women. And to support specifically lesbian women of color, check out this list. Celebrating Pride is important, and making sure you put in the work to understand LGBTQIA+ history in culture is just as important. Reading these books can help you on a mission to be a better ally or allow you to find a representation of yourself in literature.