Top 9 Young Adult Books for LGBTQ Audiences

Culture

Growing up, I always had trouble finding queer books to represent the LGBTQ community. Hopefully, this list of LGBTQ books will help some of you find great books where you feel represented and at home! 

1. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 

This is not only my favorite queer book, but it is one of my all-time favorite books. I'll Give You the Sun follows twins Noah, a natural artist hoping to form their artistic talents as he grows up, and Jude, a more outgoing and athletic girl searching for adventure. The books alternate chapters from each twin's point of view and from different periods of their lives.

Noah speaks to their lives as children where he deals with bullying, exploring his sexuality, and hopelessly falling for the boy next door. Jude recounts their lives as teenagers when they are no longer as close to each other, but she discovers family secrets through a handsome photographer. I'll Give You the Sun is a must-read young adult book and should be on everyone's lists. 

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz 

Readers will follow Aristotle and Dante's relationship as they grow their friendship to something more. Aristotle and Dante begin to be friends when Dante helps to teach Aristotle to swim one summer at their pool. Soon, Aristotle starts to get very sick, and instead of getting close to Dante, he only pushes him away. After Aristotle recovers, their friendship grows even stronger until a traumatic event changes their relationship and their lives forever.

We see Aristotle and Dante go through ups and downs, grow closer and farther apart literally and figuratively, and we see the boys discover their sexuality and feelings towards each other. This book feels like a rollercoaster ride that ends with the warmest hug in the world and will almost guarantee a good cry. 

3. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is a graphic novel about being in and escaping toxic relationships, but also about the importance of friendships and making sure to keep your friends close whether you're in a relationship or not. The story explores sexuality, friendships, romances, hardships, and gender exploration. 

Graphic novels are a perfect way to unwind during the school year. When there's so much reading to do for class picking up a graphic novel is an easy way to breeze through a book for fun, and this one is perfect to start with! The art is beautiful and the story is truly deep and captivating. 

4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson alternates chapters between two high school-aged boys both named Will Grayson who happen to meet one day by chance. One Will Grayson seems to be a fairly average boy whose best friend is Tiny Cooper, a gay football player who cares very deeply about him. The other Will Grayson is a gay, depressed teenager who despite having some friendships at school, faces many hardships within his mind. 

Their unlikely connection and friendship drives the narrative in the book and makes for a great coming of age story. 

5. This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Just a warning - this book depicts the events of a school shooting. This is Where it Ends explores 4 students' stories during 54 minutes of a school shooting and lockdown. Each student showcased in the story has a personal connection with the shooter, including the shooter's sister and her girlfriend who are trapped together attempting to escape. 

While this story can be hard to read, it is beautifully written and I would highly recommend the read. It is very powerful and makes you really think about the world and in my opinion, it is written responsibly addressing the subject matter. 

6. Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

Boy Erased is a memoir revealing real experiences from a boy who was sent to religiously based conversion therapy. It reveals some things they talked about during the therapy sessions, how they lived day by day, and flashbacks outside of the conversion camp. 

I am currently reading this book and nothing particularly graphic occurs, however the conversations and mindsets within the conversion program and both chilling yet interesting to read about. Also, if you aren't in the mood for a book it has been adapted into a movie!

7. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 

Carry On is a novel within a novel. This book was featured as a fictional book in one of Rowell's novels Fangirl, however she expanded on it and created Carry On to be a real book. It is about young people in a fantasy world at school to learn magic. At this school, a boy named Simon is claimed as the chosen one and his goal is to fight and defeat the evil Humdum who is attempting to rid the world of magic. 

I have not personally read this book yet, but it is high on my reading list and I have hear glowing recommendations for this book. I have read other Rainbow Rowell books and her writing style is absolutely fantastic. 

8. Simon V.S. the Homosapien's Agenda 

This book follows a high school boy named Simon who is gay and in the closet. Someone else at his school is rumored to be gay as well. Simon finds a way for them to email back and forth and even begins to form a friendship, but the only problem their identities are kept secret from one another. 

This queer romance features self-exploration, friendship, romance obviously, and acceptance. Again, if reading isn't your thing, there is a great movie adaptation of this book!

9. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

Perks of Being a Wallflower follows Charlie's journey through his freshmen year of high school where he makes friends with the outcast group. We see his journey through letters he's written to no one in particular. We see Charlie struggle with his feelings and trauma throughout the story, and we also see the tangled relationships he and his friends share. One including a secret love story between his friend Patrick and one of the star football players at school. 

Chbosky tells a complicated coming of age story in this book and while it is very powerful, it can also be confusing and sad. However, I would really recommend reading it if you are looking for a book that is painfully real. This book has also been adapted into a movie that I think is available on Netflix!

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McKenna Meek

Editor

McKenna is a junior at Western Washington University studying English Literature and Sociology. She is very passionate about writing and social justice topics such as fighting for equality and believes in the importance of mental health. McKenna loves to spend time with friends, family, and pets as well as reading, writing, and studying.


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