I hope that it doesn’t come to this, but if necessary, I will take it to my grave, screaming and crying, that no literary genre captures the essence of having a first love, doomed or otherwise, quite like YA books.
Sometimes, though, it seems like the books that people tout as being the paragon of romance feature only straight characters–The Fault In Our Stars. Eleanor And Park. Forever. All of these books are great, obviously–10/10, would recommend all of them, etc., etc.–but listing them as the only examples of great romance in YA literature is pretty narrow-minded. Plus, it ignores a large number of YA readers who are, in fact, not straight.
If you’re looking for a change–or are trying to figure out some things about your own sexuality–why don’t you check out these books? All of them feature characters who lie somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. Plus, they’re just really good books. Anyone can (and should) read them:
Pink by Lili WilkinsonAva is sick of being herself. Or, you know, the "self"--the kind of person who pushes her radical socialist politics, wears all black, and just generally has an attitude--that she commonly presents to people. She decides to be someone new--someone who fits in, has a boyfriend, and wears pink. So, to pursue this goal, she transfers to the Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence. Just in case things don't work out, however, she has to hide her new lifestyle from her parents. And ex-girlfriend. On this end, things go about as well as you might expect. Buy it at Amazon for $9.99
Annie On My Mind by Nancy GardenThis is an older book, but ti's important because it's one of the first that explored a same-sex relationship in YA literature. of two seventeen-year-old girls, Annie and Liza, who come from different backgrounds--Liza is the student body president at an upscale private school who dreams of going to MIT, while Annie goes to public school, lives in a low-income area, and wants to be a singer. Despite these differences, the girls start a friendship that eventually turns into love. This book is especially relevant because it deals with the initial discovery for each character discovering that they are gay, plus the oppression and stigmas that both Liza and Annie face for being gay. Buy it at Amazon for $8.77
I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy NelsonNoah and Jude are inseparable, finish-each-other's-sentences twins. That is, they are until something terrible happens to both of them and they barely speak to each other anymore. In the mean time, Noah is falling for the boy next door, and Jude meets a charismatic, mysterious guy. Will they be able to reconnect with one another? Told in alternating perspective between Noah and Jude (Noah is the first part, Jude is the second), this book is great because it explores a powerful sibling relationship and how it can change in the presence of romantic ones. Buy it at Amazon for $7.43
Ask The Passengers by A.S. KingAstrid Jones just wants to confide in someone. The problem is that no one is listening to her--her dad just doesn't seem to care, and mother pushes her too much in directions that she doesn't think she can go in. So, she lies on her back on the picnic table outside and watches the airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but she imagines that they might be more interested in what she has to say--that she's falling in love with a girl. Buy it at Amazon for $8
Empress Of The World by Sara RyanNicola Lancaster is spending the summer at the Siegel Institute Summer Program for Gifted Youth, which is basically a dumping ground for super-smart, articulate, and, most of all, competitive teenagers. Sounds fun, right? Things get even more fun when Nicola finds a new squad --Katrina the Manic Computer Girl, Isaac the Nice-Guy-Despite-Himself, Kevin the Inarticulate Composer . . . and Battle, who Nicola finds herself falling for, fast. Even though she's always thought that she likes guys. Buy it at Amazon for $6.51
The Difference Between You And Me by Madeleine GeorgeJesse and Emily are about as different as two girls can be--except, of course, for the "private time" they share together every Tuesday afternoon. They're in love, but when Jesse wants to go public with their relationship, Emily refuses, saying that she has too much to lose. Then, they find themselves on opposite sides of a heated conflict in school and find that they have to decide what matters more: What you believe in, or the person they love. Buy it at Amazon for $5.22
Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara FarizanLeila has just figured out that she likes girls. Life is already tough for her as an Iranian-American student at the elite Amsted Academy, so she figures that if she can just go the rest of the school year--and, perhaps, the rest of her life--without anyone finding out, she should be okay. But then, a beautiful new girl named Saskia shows up, and Leila finds herself falling for her, fast. This book is great because it's both hilarious and touchingly poignant--the perfect coming out story for today. Buy it at Amazon for $8.50
Have you read any of these books? Did I miss any great ones? Let us know in the comments!
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