despite the irritating promote censorship and banning of books In the United States, LGBTQ+ young adult (YA) literature is growing in prominence and popularity. These books are especially important for young readers who are questioning and exploring their sexual orientation and identity. While homophobic parents, people, and politicians try to paint these novels as “corrupting” their children, the truth is far from that. Instead, these books are uplifting, educational, affirming, and insightful.
Whether a protagonist discovers/accepts their identity, overcomes their fear of starting a relationship, or navigates a world that doesn’t understand them, these books trace and teach what it’s really like to be a young LGBTQ+ person. for young adults belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, these books allow them to see themselves and their own lives reflected in the books they read. Meanwhile, for those outside of the community, it shows young readers that LGBTQ+ youth are just like them.
Also, the fact that they are aimed at young adults does not mean that these books lack literary merit. Many of them have received numerous literary awards and deal with important political and social issues. Therefore, they are excellent reads for both young and adult readers. Here are 8 of the best LGBTQ+ YA novels we’ve found.
We are fine by Nina LaCour
We are fine by Nina LaCour was published in 2017. The book won numerous awards, including the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award for Literary Merit. The novel follows Marin, a young woman struggling with grief and trauma, who decides to leave her old life. She left town with little more than the clothes on her back, headed off to college in New York and parted ways with her old friends and family. However, all that is changing, as her closest friend, Mabel, comes to visit for winter break. This means that Marin’s past, her feelings and all the things she didn’t say will slowly come to light.
LaCour’s novel is nothing short of beautiful. It is a moving exploration of pain and loneliness. It is also a tragic look at how one will let go of the person they love for fear of expressing their own feelings. Marin is dealing with the loss, both physical and emotional, and deals with it by letting go of her past, including Mabel. However, she cannot escape who she is. All who have experienced the weight of growing old, who have loved and lost, and learned hard truths, will see their own lives reflected in this novel.
I will give you the sun by Jandy Nelson
I will give you the sun by Jandy Nelson is another Michael L. Printz Award winner and was published in 2014. The novel follows twins, Noah and Jude, who as children are as close as siblings can get. Noah is artistic, imaginative, and forming a growing relationship with the boy next door. For her part, Jude is also artistic, as well as rebellious, daring and independent. However, when tragedy strikes, the twins will never be the same. The past is told by Noah, while the present is narrated by Judas, since each tells half of the same story.
I will give you the sun It is one of the most creative, vivid and imaginative books I have ever read. The prose reads almost like poetry and the book brings Noah and Judas to life in a realistic and innovative way. Meanwhile, the book is also a harrowing exploration of grief, family secrets, and self-infidelity.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by becky albertalli
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was published in 2015 and marks Becky Albertalli’s debut novel. The novel is a coming-of-age novel that follows Simon Spier, who is a closeted 16-year-old gay youth. Over the course of 5 months, he exchanges emails with Blue, an unknown classmate that Simon falls in love with. However, when another student discovers his emails, Simon is blackmailed and forced out before his emails are leaked to the entire school.
This novel won numerous awards and resulted in a film adaptation, With love, Simonand a derived series With love, Victor. In the meantime, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a novel that all teenagers should read as they struggle with who they really are. The book is funny, intelligent and stimulating. One point that Simon and Blue discuss is how everyone should come out, regardless of their sexuality. After all, why do members of the LGBTQ+ community have to come out when straight people don’t? It is these issues that Simon ponders as he struggles to come to terms with who he is and how others see him. The novel also captures the beautiful nature of young love.
Will GraysonWill Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Will GraysonWill Grayson is a novel written by John Green and David Levithan. The story follows two boys, both named Will Grayson. Will 1 has all of his chapters written by Green, while Levithan writes the chapters for the other Will. Will 1 likes to keep a low profile in life, but he has a hard time doing so when his best friend is Tiny Cooper, a flamboyant gay football player who turns heads wherever he goes. Meanwhile, Will 2 is a boy struggling with depression. He falls in love with a boy named Isaac online, only to find out that a girl at his school has cheated on him. When these two testaments overlap, they will see their lives change in unexpected ways.
The novel, published in 2010, made the New York Times the children’s bestseller list, making it the first LGBTQ+ novel to make that list. Meanwhile, this collaboration between two of the biggest names in children’s literature makes for a very special and revealing book. Even though the title is Will GraysonWill Grayson, the novel is largely about Cooper. Cooper is one of the best role models in YA literature: he’s eccentric, funny, has his heart on his sleeve and is unapologetic about himself. The charm of him is even enough to break the sadness of Will 2. It is an unforgettable story of love and friendship.
boy meets boy by David Levitan
boy meets boy is a novel written by David Levithan and published in 2003. The novel follows Paul, an openly gay sophomore living in an LBGTQ-friendly neighborhood in New Jersey. He has a crush on Noah, a new guy in town who is wary of relationships after his previous boyfriend cheated on him. Meanwhile, the story also follows Paul’s best friend Tony, who deals with homophobic parents and lives in a much less tolerant city than Paul. The novel tracks this group of friends over the course of a couple of weeks as they learn what it means to find love, lose love, and find it again.
This story is quite unique in that it follows the standard “boy meets girl” plot: boy meets girl and falls in love, loses her and then gets her back. Only in this novel, it’s a queer relationship at the center. boy meets boy It is an extremely funny and moving novel. Explore first love and the different levels of acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community around the world. While one may be accepted in their hometown, the city next door may not be as friendly. In this novel, love and friendship become the bridge to feel accepted.
Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe is a novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz that was published in 2012. The novel follows two boys, Aristóteles (Ari) Mendoza and Dante Quintana, who meet in the summer of 1987 at the age of 15. The two boys quickly become inseparable and Ari even saves Dante’s life. , bringing their families closer as well. However, it becomes clear that Dante has a crush on Ari, while Ari apparently doesn’t reciprocate the feelings. However, the friendship of the two persists and, ultimately, will be the key for them to discover truths about themselves.
This novel was named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, among many other awards. The book is stunningly beautiful and puts all of his efforts and focus on Ari and Dante. And it’s just impossible not to love Ari and Dante. Readers will find themselves cheering them on throughout the book as they tackle the world together. Even in the face of family secrets, hatred, and identity confusion, the bond between the two is never broken. He boasts of the most beautiful and absolute friendship and Ari does not stop advocating that Dante be who he is and be able to love freely.
Aristotle and Dante dive into the waters of the world by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aristotle and Dante dive into the water of the world is the sequel to Sáenz Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe. In the previous novel, Ari and Dante discovered their love for each other. However, now they must discover what it really means to be in love, especially in a world that doesn’t always accept them. Ari, especially, struggles to be true to himself and make life his own, after trying to hide his feelings from him for so long. When he is faced with tragedy, Ari’s struggle to forge his own path in life becomes even more desperate.
As with the first novel, this book immediately wins readers over with Ari and Dante. While Ari is still struggling, he is also becoming much more of himself. Readers will fall in love with the new Ari as they see how love has turned his life upside down. Meanwhile, Dante remains the same dreamer, sticking close to Ari’s side. However, as in the first novel, the boys face hatred and discrimination from others. Despite their difficult journey, your friendship and the support of their community will see them through.
they both die at the end by Adam Silvera
They both die at the end is a novel by Adam Silvera published in 2017. The book follows Mateo Torrez, a boy who receives a dreaded call from Death-Cast. Death-Cast is a company that gained prominence for its ability to predict deaths. They tell Mateo that he is a Decker, someone with only 24 hours to live. Rufus Emeterio is a foster child with a troubled past, who receives the same call. The two, anxious not to live their last day alone, meet through an app and decide to spend their last day together.
The novel is a moving exploration of life and death. As the title says, this story is tragic. However, it’s also beautiful as Mateo and Rufus set out to live a lifetime in one day. While not solely an LGBTQ+ novel, both Mateo and Rufus are from the LGBTQ+ community. Diversity and representation across the board is strong in this beautiful book and Mateo and Rufus’ bond is the best part of the story. This is the kind of book that makes you question everything about your very existence.
Did we miss any of your favorite LGBTQ+ novels written for a younger audience? Tell us in the comments!
(featured image: 20th Century Studios)
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