This month we were tasked with a freebie post, so I’m choosing to share some of my favorite books that prominently feature LGBT characters. Here are 10 of the best LGBT themed novels in young adult literature.
Many thanks to Algonquin Books for sending us all review copies of the book!
High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.
1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
I could cry just writing about this gorgeous contemporary about best friends — Ari and Dante — who slowly realize over the years that their love is complicated. When they finally realize how they each feel, it’s breathtaking.
2. Proxy by Alex London
London’s excellent dystopian thriller follows Syd, a gay, black protagonist who finds himself in the middle of a class struggle in a super consumerist future.
3. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
There’s nothing Jandy Nelson could write that I wouldn’t immediately read. I adored her heartbreaking tale of loss and art and love. The main characters are boy-girl twins, and the boy is gay.
4. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that by book three it’s clear that one if not two of the Raven Boys is gay, and the character development is startlingly good. I’m hoping the boys will finally get together in the final installment.
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky:
Although the main character isn’t gay, one of Charlie’s best friends Patrick is, and Charlie’s perfectly comfortable with it. Patrick is secretly hooking up with a popular boy who’s deep in the closet, and it’s clear the relationship is more than just experimenting for Patrick.
6. Far From You by Tess Sharpe
On the surface this book is a whodunit murder mystery, but it’s also a tear-jerking romance about two girls who seemed like typical best friends but who were so much more.
7. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
We just read the book last month for the YA Diversity Book Club, and it’s a powerful fictional story about a black teen who’s part of a small group who integrated an all-white Virginia high school in the 1950s. There, she falls in love with the daughter of the town’s segregationist newspaper editor.
8. Pink by Lili Wilkinson
Ava isn’t the most likable character, but she is definitely memorable. She leaves one high school for another and sheds her lesbian identity to fit in with the popular smart girls, wearing pink, pretending to like a boy, and working with the theater crowd.
9. More Than This by Patrick Ness:
Ness’ otherworldly story features a passionate love story between the main character and one of his best friends (even though said best friend also sleeps with a girl). This love is so powerful it transcends death.
10. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith:
We’re not sure where the on LGBT spectrum most of the characters fall, but it doesn’t matter, because Austin loves his girlfriend Shann as well as his best friend Robbie, who’s openly gay. This is a story about lust, love, sexed up killer grasshoppers, and the way history shapes our future.
Interested in the book? Make sure to read our book club discussion at The Reading Date, our Q&A with Sara Farizan at Gone Pecan, and We Heart YA’s post “All the Flavors That We Are.” Also check out our past book club selections and pick up stay tuned next month when we share our favorite diverse titles of the year.