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8 Must-Read Books For LGBTQ+ Teens

  • by Jamie Skylark

These works are helping readers discover what it's like to be gay and black, bisexual and Muslim, MexicAn-American and queer, and everything in between.

Young adult literature has long been a place to find nuanced and moving stories featuring LGBTQ characters. From Nancy Garden's classic 80s lesbian romance Annie On My Mind to Andrew Smith's apocalyptic Grasshopper Jungle, there are plenty of YA titles to put on your proud reading list. In addition, there is a growing tendency in the world of young adult literature to create transgender LGBTQ stories. The protagonists of these novels are all POC - meaning that while they're exploring their evolving sexual orientation and gender identity, they're also exploring what it means to be gay, black, bisexual, Muslim, MexicAn-American, and queer.

1、The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

SCHOLASTIC PRESS

Rukhsana thought she could keep her queer identity from her parents long enough to escape to Caltech, where she could be with her girlfriend and create a life built around her passion for science rather than her mother's expectation that she become a good wife. But when she's outed, her journey toward an arranged marriage seriously speeds up. Khan does a fantastic job looking at what it's like to try to solidify your own identity when everyone around you has definite, but conflicting pictures of who and what you should be. BUY NOW

 

2、If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

ALGONQUIN YOUNG READERS

Farizan has created an absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking love story between two teenage girls living in Iran who have been everything to each other for as long as they can remember. Now, they're beginning to understand that their intertwined lives will soon be severed by an arranged marriage. The short novel illustrates the pain, denial, and bargaining that comes with the end of any romantic relationship while capturing the specific challenges of being true to yourself in a community and country where that truth could get you killed. BUY NOW

3、For Today I Am A Boy by Kim Fu

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT

Kim Fu's story of a Chinese Canadian trans girl finding the strength to be herself in a household that can be less than open-minded has received a seemingly endless list of awards and accolades, from a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice to Publishing Triangle's Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction. Fu's writing is wonderfully lyrical, evoking a strong sense of a small town, and of what it means to break with that small town's small-mindedness. BUY NOW

4、More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

SOHO TEEN

Silvera is a master of creating terrifying near futures that feature technology that's both intriguing and troubling. In More Happy Than Not, Aaron doesn't think much about the new system that promises it can erase painful memories — even though the recent death of his father continues to weigh on him. It's not until he starts having feelings for a new friend, Thomas, that he begins to wonder if his life with his girlfriend and his more close-minded group of friends might be easier if a specific part of him was taken away forever. BUY NOW

5、The Backstagers by James Tynion IV, Illustrated by Rian Sygh

BOOM! BOX

This graphic novel series is a can't-miss for any former theater kid. The already magical world of high school theater gets a little more literal at St. Genesius Preparatory. A group of stagehands who have created more of a family than a club battle (or befriend) the strange creatures that sometimes emerge from the mysterious back-back stage, while falling in love and making sure all the props get put back in the right place. The characters, the illustrations, and even the monsters are all painfully adorable. BUY NOW

6、Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

BALZER + BRAY

A historical YA novel set in 1989 New York, Like a Love Story weaves together stories of heartbreak and hope. Judy is dealing with the fact her beloved uncle Steven is dying of AIDs. Her best friend, Art, has a crush on Judy's new boyfriend, Reza, who's just beginning to accept that, in spite of what his Iranian family might think about the gay community, he's not straight. This novel is as much a story about friendship and family as it is about first love, and also features an extended love letter to the power of Madonna. BUY NOW

7、Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

DIAL BOOKS

Peppered with fantasy references loved by the titular Darius, Darius the Great Is Not Okay is a sweet and funny story of not belonging. When Darius takes a trip to see his family in Iran, he feels as awkward as he ever did, though that feeling starts to be buried by another when he meets Sohrab. Darius' voice is so strong and unique that every observation — from discovering a new country to battling it out with the water steamer at his job in a tea shop — seems exciting. BUY NOW

8、Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki, Illustrated by Rosemary Valero O'Connell

 

FIRST SECOND

Freddy Riley is quick to point out that she knows having her heart broken by her girlfriend and being able to lean, openly, on her community of queer friends is a privilege of sorts. Just ask Harvey Milk, about who Riley is learning: "I'm aware that I should be grateful that I have the ability to get broken up with and publicly humiliated the same as my hetro friends," Milk said. "I am progress." But that knowledge doesn't take away from the sting of having her heart broken over and over, something that's explored in this beautifully illustrated graphic novel with humor and nuance. BUY NOW

 


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