Book Recs: Queer Historical Reads

Crushed on by Christy Jane, on February 23, 2023, in Book Recommendations, New Releases / 1 Comment

Book Recs: Queer Historical Reads

We love a good queer historical here at BookCrushin. Many explore the history of the queer community through different lenses, whether geographical, racial, or time period, and add to the rich options in the YA community. I’ll Take Everything You Have is a new queer historical set in 1930s (during the Depression) Chicago. In honor of its upcoming release, we thought we would put together a list of some of our favorite queer historicals. Leave us a comment and tell us what we need to add to our TBR!

Book Recs: Queer Historical Reads

I'll Take Everything You Have

by James Klise
Published by: Algonquin Young Readers
on February 28, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Young Adult

From an Edgar Award-winning author, this historical noir novel follows the life-changing summer of sixteen-year-old Joe Garbe as he discovers queer community in 1930s Chicago and gets caught up in the city's crooked underbelly.

In the summer of 1934, Joe Garbe arrives in Chicago with one goal: Earn enough money to get out of debt and save the family farm. Joe’s cousin sets him up with a hotel job, then proposes a sketchy scheme to make a lot more money fast. While running his con, Joe finds himself splitting time between Eddie, a handsome flirt on a delivery truck, and Raymond, a carefree rich kid who shows Joe the eye-opening queer life around every corner of the big city.

Joe’s exposure to the surface of criminal Chicago pulls him into something darker than he could have imagined. When danger closes in—from gangsters, the police, and people he thought were friends—Joe needs to pack up and get lost. But before he can figure out where to go, he has to decide who he wants to be.

I’ll Take Everything You Have is a vivid portrayal of queer coming of age in Depression-era Chicago, and a timeless story of trying to make your future bright when the rest of the world is dead set on keeping it hidden in the dark.

Queer Historical Reads

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth: I know, we don’t like to think about the 90s as historical but after 30 years, we have to admit defeat. This is definitely a book written in its time (2012) but its setting in Montana and examination of being queer in the 90s sets it apart.
  • Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian: This book nearly broke me. Being queer in the late 80s, during the AIDS crisis, in NYC. It’s everything all wrapped into one package. Bring tissues.
  • The Edge of Being by James Brandon: I don’t understand where Brandon finds all these beautiful words but I love every one of them. This is a contemporary story that is a dive into queer history in California (specifically SF).
  • Music from Another World by Robin Talley: Another story set in California, but this time in the late 70s. What I loved about this one is the examination of religion and the harm it causes for queer youth.
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo: At the intersection of being queer and Asian during the Red Scare, this one is not to be missed.
  • Pulp by Robin Talley: This is one of my favorite books EVER. It’s also a joint contemporary and historical story, set both now and in the 50s. The way Robin weaves their stories is magical.
  • Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson: This one bounces between the now and the late 60s (yes, I have a type) and becomes a love triangle through time.
  • Ziggy, Stardust, and Me by James Brandon: Absolutely lyrical (I mean, there is Bowie woven throughout) and a lot of heart.


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One response to “Book Recs: Queer Historical Reads

  1. James Klise

    Love this list! Along with “Like a Love Story,” Bill Konigsberg’s “Destination Unknown” is a powerful window into queer NYC in the 1980s.