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5 Queer YA Audiobooks for Summer Listening

With Pride Month coming to a close, it's important to remember that recognition and celebration of queer identities doesn't have to be confined to just one month. I'm excited to share these five queer YA audiobooks because they represent and validate a variety of identities while also delivering exciting plots, tender romance, big emotions, and important experiences—with excellent narration on top of everything else. Dive into these audiobooks, talk about them, and keep the conversation about the queer experience going all year long.

Infinity AlchemistIn INFINITY ALCHEMIST, a magical, queernormative audiobook full of political intrigue and dynamic action, Wes Haas’s consistent pacing and tender portrayals absolutely enhance the written word. Transmasculine Ash’s ability to wield alchemy is outlawed in a society where only the elite can obtain the education and license necessary to use it. He learns in secret despite the danger, only to be caught by genderfluid Ramsay, who promises not to turn Ash in as long as he helps them find a sacred book with extraordinary power. Haas's emotional portrayals of Ash and Ramsay falling in love, and later including Callum in their polyamorous relationship, will leave listeners swooning. Their narration utilizes a variety of skills to differentiate the audiobook's large cast of queer characters.

OtherworldlyPrimarily narrated by Em Grosland and Kevin R Free, OTHERWORLDLY hooks listeners to its irresistible romance and suspenseful plot. Ellery, voiced by Grosland, lost faith in the supernatural after a years-long winter devastated their family’s farm. Imbued with grumpy sarcasm and wit, Grosland’s portrayal perfectly fits a teenager struggling to financially support their entire family. Golden Voice narrator Kevin R. Free voices the magical familiar Knox, abandoned to the human realm and on the run from deadly shades. Knox is excited to experience human life, and Free injects his performance with upbeat optimism. Listeners can’t help but swoon as Ellery quickly falls for him. Natalie Naudus briefly narrates a segment at the beginning as Arabelle, Knox’s human charge, hoping to find the secret to immortality.

The Perfect Guide Doesn't ExistFor lovers of fanfiction, Sophie Gonzales's THE PERFECT GUY DOESN’T EXIST, narrated by Jeremy Carlisle Parker, is the audiobook you didn’t know you needed. For years, Ivy has been writing romantic fanfiction starring gorgeous magical boy Weston from her favorite TV show. After a stormy night, Weston magically appears in her bedroom. Ivy teams up with aromantic/asexual Henry, her new fandom friend, and Mackenzie, her ex-best friend and crush. Parker commits to Weston’s melodramatic existence as he cycles through Ivy’s fictional portrayals and tropes, changing from puppy-love adoration one day to antagonistic defiance the next, proving that what Ivy thought was romantic is significantly less so in real life. Parker’s perfect comedic timing leads to several laugh-out-loud moments, and her depiction of bisexual Ivy’s complicated feelings for the best friend she left behind feel tender and sweet.

Canto ContigoAlejandro Antonio Ruiz perfectly captures big emotions in CANTO CONTIGO, earning their performance an Earphones Award. Rafie’s desire to be the best mariachi vocalist is within his grasp—and it's the perfect chance to honor his beloved abuelo’s memory. Then a family move upends his plans and forces him to change schools and mariachi groups. Worse, this new group already has a lead vocalist. Ruiz adopts a leisurely pace as Rafie’s rivalry with transmasculine Rey slowly transforms into heated attraction. Ruiz’s narration emotionally commits to characters who cry, laugh, and even sing. Rafie’s anxiety as he battles between his determination to excel and his total captivation with Rey is performed with tender care.

Gender QueerWith the use of a full cast, music, and sound effects, author and narrator Maia Kobabe’s journey toward gender discovery in GENDER QUEER takes on a new dimension. Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, originally published GENDER QUEER as a graphic memoir, one which has been frequently challenged and banned. The adaptation to audio, primarily narrated by Kobabe with tremendous candor and authenticity, delves into questions of how to self-identify and how to come out amid confusing crushes, connecting over gay fanfiction, and traumatic pap smears. An excellent listen for queer teens and anyone looking to understand what it means to be gender nonconforming. Listen to AudioFile's interview with Kobabe and publisher Nick Martorelli to learn more about turning the graphic memoir into an audiobook.


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