The young adult novel is a powerful genre of literature. Some of the greatest titles in history have been focused on adolescent protagonists, fromRomeo and JuliettoLord of the Flies. With works of today likeHunger GamesandHarry Potterbecoming multi-million dollar franchises, it’s no secret that the young reader is more influential than ever.
As real and honest as these stories often are, the wider known ones rarely give us a proper queer character. It’s an impressionable age, and with more kids identifying as LGBTQ+, it’s a perfect opportunity to tell their stories. A burgeoning few have pushed the barrier to help broaden this genre.
At the Edge of the Universeby Shaun David Hutcherson
Tommy and Ozzie are childhood sweethearts, having known each other since the second grade. But when Tommy vanishes and nobody else seems to remember him, Ozzie begins to wonder if the universe is shrinking. With time running out, he has to find out what happened to Tommy before he’s gone forever.
Drag Teenby Jeffery Self
JT is at a dead end. A teenage drag enthusiast, his parents are not supportive and his college prospects are not great. With his boyfriend ready to leave for school, his only chance for a scholarship and a ticket out of town is to take the crown at the Miss Drag Teen pageant in New York City.
Dreadnought: Nemesisby April Daniels
Danny is a transgender girl who just wants to hide her identity from the world. But when the superhero Dreadnought falls from the sky and dies right in front of her, she inherits his powers, which transform her into the body she belongs. As she struggles to adjust to life in her new body, she must also find Dreadnought’s killer before they bring destruction to her city.
Fire Shut Up in My Bonesby Charles M. Blow
This memoir tells the story of Charles M. Blow as he grew up in a segregated town in Louisiana. With a fiercely strong mother, young Charles was often attached to her hip. But when an older cousin takes advantage of him, he’s forced to abandon his childhood.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Bodyby Roxane Gay
Feminist author Roxane Gay pens a beautiful memoir through a vulnerable lens. In this book, she tackles food, weight, self-image, and the struggle to love yourself when the world sees you as less than.
It’s Not Like It’s a Secretby Misa Sugiura
When Sana and her family move to California, she finds herself going through some common teenage issues. With mean girls, guys with crushes, and her dad’s affair on her mind, all she can think about are her feelings for her new best friend, Jamie. But owning up to her feelings are not as easy as she’d hoped.
Little & Lionby Brandy Colbert
Leaving her New England boarding school, Suzette is happy to return home to LA. In addition to her friends and family, she’s missed her stepbrother who’s recently been diagnosed as bipolar and needs her support. But things become complicated when she finds herself falling for the girl he loves.
Perfect Tenby L. Philips
It’s slim pickings for a gay kid at Sam’s high school. So, when he breaks up with the only other eligible gay guy in his school, he’s left with his few options. But when his Wiccan best friend performs a love spell with him, he finds himself the object of desire for three eligible bachelors.
Prettyby Justin Sayre
For Sophie, middle school is more of a burden than for most of her adolescent peers. With an alcoholic mother, her home life is somewhat of a nightmare. When her aunt steps in to take care of her, she finds herself questioning boys, beauty, and gender.
Symptoms of Being Humanby Jeff Garvin
Teenage Riley is a rebellious, gender-fluid teenager who’s starting at a new school. With the added pressure of a conservative congressman father, being in the public eye makes it difficult to stay in the closet. When his identity is discovered via his anonymous blog, he has a choice to make about whether or not he’ll come out.