Help me find good YA gay/*lesbian* fiction please? =)
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hey hey, i did half an honours thesis on the topic - have a browse through my library cause i have around 45 YA lesbian titles in there - a few i can mention off the top of my head include:
truth, dare promise
girl walking backwards
good moon rising
empress of the world
email me if you have any questions - i am more than happy to help
I would reccommend Iron Man by Chris Crutcher as a novel and Am I Blue? (a collection of short stories) to be taken in part or whole depending on your purpose.
Joyce Carol Oates has a book called "Sexy," which explores sexuality and sexual harrassment in school. Like most of her books, it's not a very comfortable read though.
I didn't really like Girl Walking Backwards; it's dysfunctional, drug-filled, and depressing. And rather explicit.
I liked the already-mentioned Keeping You a Secret and Empress of the World, as well as the not-mentioned Kissing Kate. Oh, and I also liked Crush by Jane Futcher, although Amazon didn't review it that positively. (It may be because the main character is lacking in confidence and is easily manipulated.)
It all depends on what kind of book you want. Gritty and realistic? Optimistic and uplifting? Young adult fiction in general tends to be more of the latter (or, if the former, somewhat more censored) than adult fiction. And then also: do you want the traditional coming-out-to-oneself book? Or the already-out-but-dealing-with-life kind?
Anyway, this might help you out a bit:
There's an article for gay (male) teen fiction too, but it's a bit more disorganized.
Some gay-themed YA authors to look for are Julie Anne Peters, Nancy Garden, Brent Hartinger, and Alex Sanchez (although his books can grow tiresome). The selection's slightly bigger if it's beyond YA fiction, like Jeanette Winterson, who I don't really think of as a YA author, although I don't know her books terribly well.
It's a good book, but Rubyfruit Jungle is a somewhat explicit for the YA category.
#14, really? i found it less explicit than something like girl walking backwards which is squarely YA. maybe i need to re-read it. as as long as everything is consentual and healthy, well, it serves a good educational purpose.
it's nothing that the teens aren't thinking about or actually doing anyhow ;) ... that's just me though.
oh, one to avoid would be sugar rush which irritated me no end.
an lot of the older titles are worth looking into - happy endings are all alike is fantastic, though a little bleaker and hey dollface is one of my favourite YA books dealing with same-sex crushes between kids who don't know what way they are going yet.
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I've read two relatively new boooks:
- 7 Days at the Hot Corner by Terry Trueman. "Varsity baseball player Scott Latimer struggles with his own prejudices and those of others when his best friend reveals that he is gay."
-Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies by Brent Hartinger. Two books in one that tell of Russel, who is gay, and Min, who is bisexual, as they face separate romantic troubles on the set of a horror movie.
#16 - ah.. i thought i had read somewhere that girl walking backwards was originally meant for an adult audience.... thought i may have just made it up - i am glad to have that confirmed. that intrigues me, because it is so clearly YA in a lot of ways, in regards to the teen angst. oh, and very similar to tomorrow wendy which came out originally in 1998 also, (now i think its available through that nifty print on demand reprint service, and you can still get it through amazon.com et al). have you read that, csokie637? i found it made girl walking backwards seem positively cheery - though it is thematically very similar. the late 90's were a bleak time for YA lesbian novels. everyone cheered up in the early 00's.
it's fascinating question of what defines a YA novel over an adult novel - things like clan of the cave bear et al, which i know most of my friends read as teenagers and subsequently taught us more about sex than sex ed. ever did.... i almost categorize that as YA, which may be heresy, as it was marketed for an adult audience without a doubt.
yet something like oranges are not the only fruit i wouldn't categorize as YA, possibly because of the way it is written? it's an intriguing question, perhaps worthy of another thread.
The fantasy books set in the Kingdom of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey have many characters who are gay or lesbian. One of the best books I have ever read is The Last Herald-Mage. The main character is a very human yet noble hero who is gay. There are no explicit sex scenes yet the character's intimate relationships are very important to the story, and are exceptionally moving. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy.
In the same vein as #20, I'd recommend to fantasy fans The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce -- though since it's a follow up to the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series, I can't say how well it would stand on its own. Still, there's a very thoughtful and complex portrayal of a lesbian relationship there.
I agree with the person who thought that Sugar Rush was a terrible book. The only book I've ever thrown in the trash because I didn't want to be responsible for somebody buying it second-hand from me. I didn't like Girl Walking Backwards very much either.
Empress of the World is very engaging--I liked it a lot. Looking forward to the sequel.
Francesca Lia Block is a genius although somewhat surreal. Violet and Claire is a teriffic book.
For a classic work that's quite amazing, try Rosemary Manning's The Chinese Garden. It's an adult novel about young adults but it's such a good (although odd) book.
For a slightly younger audience, Catherine Brett's SP Likes AD is good.
M.E. Kerr's Deliver Us From Evie is strong and convincing.
Ellen Wittlinger's Hard Love is pretty good.
Benediction by Diane Salvatore--Catholic school story, dated but interesting.
I didn't like Far from Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters.
Love Rules by Marilyn Reynolds--not very good.
I haven't liked the Brent Hartinger books I've read--The Geography Club and Last Chance Texaco. The plot situations seem predictable to me; but I may have just read too much YA genre literature.
Jacqueline Woodson, The House You Pass on the Way--I haven't read it yet but it looks good.
The Last of Eden, an early work by Stephanie Tolan--I just got this, haven't read it yet.
The IHOP Papers--also on my To Read list (it's a long list!).
I am quite sure Last Chance Texaco didn't have anything gay in it... I think it's only Brent Hartinger's Geography Club series that has a gay storyline. Grand and Humble, too, has a character who's mentioned to be gay.
Sara Ryan's The Rules for Hearts came out recently, but I didn't like it as much as its prequel, Empress of the World. Battle's definitely not as cool when Nic's not around. The book's more cynical and less emotional. And I wasn't too thrilled with all the new characters, or the few details on Battle's parents. Their characterization seemed stronger in Empress of the World, although they showed up less frequently there.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.
It is the first book in the series Mortal Instruments and was just released last month.
Julie Anne Peters also wrote Luna: a novel, which features a transgendered character, though the story is narrated by her sister. It's excellent.
Two books that I just read this summer could be what you might want. Since I'm heterosexual, I don't know how accurate the authors are in getting feelings right and whatnot, but it seemed to me like they did a good job.
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson has two main girl characters dealing with homosexuality. She explores everything, like coming out to your friends and family and questioning whether or not you are actually gay. The only thing that bothered me about this book was the fact that the really good guy, Parker, got left out in the cold!
The book Pretty Things has two homosexual characters as well. I thought the book was kind of a mess, but it's the only other book I could think of and I think Sara Manning dealt pretty well with the questions surrounding homosexuality.
I've read Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, which I know is YA. Perhaps a little dated, but lovely story.
I recently finished The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers by Joe Babcock which I enjoyed (and I will hopefully have a review up soon). I don't know that I would really classify it as YA, but other users have tagged it as teen fiction. (Although, that could mean fiction about a teenager, which would be accurate)
if you didn't find enough here, you might try posting to the genderqueer group
I'd like to second Dare, Truth or Promise - my 2 best friends in high school were girlfriends and this book really rang true for me with what I observed of their relationship, particularly the struggles they had with their families.
Although I haven't read it myself, Freak Show by James St. James has been getting a lot of positive reviews on the YALSA-BK listserv and is about a high school drag queen. Likewise, Hero by Perry Moore is about a homosexual male superhero (it's at the top of my TBR pile) has been getting rave reviews.
You may also find Worth the Trip (http://worththetrip.wordpress.com) helpful. It's a blog devoted to books for LGBTQ teens and has regular reviews - and a very recent post about the lack of lesbian protagonists in new LGBTQ novels.
Hope that helps!
*edited for finicky touchstones!
If you like David Levithan and haven't read Wide Awake yet, I would suggest that one as well.
Have you heard of the anthology, So Fey, edited by Steve Berman? I am waiting for my copy, it has some authors I really like.
I recently read and enjoyed "Hello, Groin" by Beth Goobie.
"Parrotfish" by Ellen Wittlinger features a transgender character; it was pretty good - not all pretty nor all hate.
"Touching Snow" by M. Sindy Felin the main characted happens to be lesbian. I don't think it changed the story in a major way; I liked that. It was cool to have it be a part of the story but not what moved the plot - very normal.
yareader2 already mentioned it but So Fey has some good stories for both genders. Some are absolutely atrocious but there are some real gems. Holly Black's story is particularly well written.
Two books I've noticed on the shelf at work and have been meaning to read are Hero by Perry Moore and Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger. The former is about a teenage boy who is a superhero and who is gay, and the latter is about a transgendered teen. (Not necessarily gay or lesbian, but certainly dealing with some of the same issues.)
There's a YA book called So hard to say that features a 13-year-old boy who discovers he is gay. I have yet to read it, but I hear that it is very good.
Melissa Scott has written a set of superb sci-fi books that deal directly w/ gender issues, adolescence, art, AI, class/caste divisions...a host of very artfully interwoven topics. "Night Sky Mine" deals most explicitly w/ a teenage girl's discovering, among MANY other things, that she's gay..But then she's written other v. appropriate books: Dreaming Metal - perhaps the best treatment of art in sci-fi, ever; ShadowMan; and Dreamships could also be very good YA books in this field, although they weren't marketed as such.
She also wrote with her recently dead gfriend, a set of much more conventional high fantasies that are well written, but MUCH less imaginative.
Swimming in a Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvaduria is an excellent YA tite about a teen boy in Sri Lanka coming to the realization that he is gay.
I thought the portrayal of his confusion, disgust and final understanding was very realistic.
I am reading "Jack" and I find the confusion to feel very real. This isn't about a gay teen, but it's the pov of the child of someone who comes out of the closet and leaves his family.
Brent Hartinger's Split Screen was a blast. Fun and frolic with great gay and lesbian characters. Of course it's a teen book so it deals with relationship issues, but all in the context of an overall story ... and without any of the heavy-handed- or heavy-heartedness so common. At the end it's hard to say which of these folks I liked the most.
Wide Awake by David Levithan
It's about the first gay Jewish man running for president and it follows the story of two boys campaigning for him.
My Favorite Levithan!!!
When I was in elementary school/junior high, I loved the book The Drowning of Stephan Jones by Bette Greene. The main character is a pretty good example of a young teenage girl who is easily swayed by her peers against her better judgement. Her boyfriend "terrorizes" (for lack of a better word) a gay couple in town. Though the gay couple is a little too stereotypical, I liked how the friendship between the young girl and the couple develops. In the end, the girl stands up for what is right (equality and non-discrimination), but it still has a bittersweet ending. What I like most about the book is that it deals with the consequences of homophobia.
I also enjoyed Wide Awake, a good read for our politically turmoiled time.
Lots of good suggestions here! I wanted to add a new book, it's coming out sometime summer 08 I think, that I got a galley of: My Tiki Girl by Jennifer McMahon. I thought it was awesome, really beautiful and intense. Not too explicit, and a happy (but realistic, not ridiculous) ending.
I just finished reading Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron and it is billed as young adult novel, although I found some of the emotional stuff quite adult. There is no sex in the book though and the principle character is eighteen and very sweet. I think this book is getting a lot of attention and will probably become even more popular once it is released in paperback.
Okay, so I'm a good five months late to this discussion, but I want to say two things. One, thank you! I will definitely be checking out some of the above suggestions.
And second, I want to recommend a couple of titles. I have recently read two very good books, both with a male teen gay protagonist. From what I understand, the books were no marketed to the young adult audience but, for my mind, they should have been. Both books are by Robin Readon.
I read her second novel, Thinking Straight, first after receiving an automated recommendation from Amazon.co.jp. I'll admit I bought it on a whim so that I could qualify for free shipping on another book I had purchased. I had no absolutely no expectations and was completely amazed by how good it was. I would have finished it in one sitting had I not had to leave for work halfway through. I finished it as soon as I got home!
After that, I sought out her debut novel, A Secret Edge. It, too, was fantastic. I felt that there was a small issue of Readon recycling her material in these books, but it's only brief and it happens towards the end of both books, so I didn't really detract from the story in my opinion.
But, really, both books are great. If you like reading smart and thought provoking YA literature from a gay male prospective, I definitely recommend them both.
Robin Reardon appeared here a few months ago in the gay literature section. I always assumed she was a he, but maybe it's because A Secret Edge is about
a teenage boy. Is he a she?
#58, Robin is a lady. At first I assumed she as a he, but then I found her LT author page.
I read a book called Damned Strong Love by Lutz Van Dijk. It is based on a true story of a Polish teenager who falls in love with a German soldier during WWII. It appears that it may now be out of print, but is available used on Amazon at a reasonable price. I thought it was an excellent book.
Deliver Us From Evie, by M. E. Kerr is excellent. Nothing really lurid or objectionable in it. Well written, highly discussable because of the author's use of language. She creates vivid images of a rural family and the consequences of being true to oneself. Most of the characters have secrets and/or identity problems of one kind or another.
Ellen Wittlinger often writes excellent lesbian and gay characters in her novels. Hard Love is about Marisol a zine creator and young lesbian.
David Levithan's Wide Awake has as a narrator a gay 16 year old, but his best friends are a lesbian couple who attend his HS and work with him to elect the first gay Jewish president.
A political, exciting and topical book to read today!
A comic book series liked by many women (hetero and homo) is Strangers in Paradise: The Collected Strangers In Paradise by Terry Moore.
It is a thriller, but foremost a story about the relationship between 2 young women.
(No, there are no superheroes in it nor any scantily clad women with crazy breasts). I would even rate it 12+
I'll second Deliver Us From Evie by M.E. Kerr -- actually, I've liked just about everything by that author, and several of her books deal with gay themes -- and Totally Joe by James Howe, which is adorable and my 13-year-old sister loved it when I suggested she read it.
House Like a Lotus by Madeleine L'Engle focuses on a straight girl, but has lesbian themes, and is part of the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Austin-O'Keefe-Murray series.
Maurice by E.M. Forster isn't young adult, but it's classic and pretty tame -- I like other of his books better, but I'll always encourage people to read Forster!
M or F? by Lisa Pademetriou and Chris Tebbets is cute, if you have a decent tolerance for embarassment -- I squirmed for the characters a few times.
The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E.L. Konigsburg deals with some homosexual history and has several possibly gay characters, and is as smart and enjoyable as anything she's written.
Am I Blue? is a good collection of GLBT short stories by some really great authors -- I especially like the title story.
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan I remember enjoying, but I was about fourteen when I read it, so I can't really get into specifics -- cute lesbian love story. I also remember liking The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson, but don't remember it very well.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is AMAZING. Really awesome. Main character's straight, but many major characters are queer -- and they go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show! It's like my youth.
Read Geography Club, worst book I've ever read
Read Keeping you a Secret, Best book EVER, it put me to tears the 3d time i read it lol
Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World --I thought this book was so disappointing. E. L. Konigsburg is a genius and capable of so much but she needed some stern words from her editor on that one. I admit the treatment of homosexuality in 1940s Amsterdam was pretty interesting, but even this did not make up for what I can only call a very self-indulgent book.
Looking back through my posts I noticed I didn't mention Saints of Augustine which I read a few months back. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.
I thought I had posted about it before or even found the book from this thread but going back it is not there.
Oh, I just read Hero by Perry Moore yesterday, and it is so, so wonderful. It's like Watchmen-lite. (I mean that in actually a really good way -- it's got more hope/heart than Watchmen, but does some really cool things that remind me of that comic.)
I'd definitely rec it for slightly older teens -- I wouldn't necessarily give it to a 13 or 14-year-old, unless they were fairly mature.
Nothing new here. Just adding my opinion on previously mentioned stuff.
grl2grl: short fictions by Julie Anne Peters (whose touchstone refuses to work) is a personal favorite. She's an interesting writer, but she's very inconsistent (in my opinion avoid everything but Luna, grl2grl, Between Mom and Jo, and Define "Normal")
Also I absolutely adore Francesca Lia Block who I believe is soon to receive a Phoenix award for her Dangerous Angels series!
David Leviathan and Alex Sanchez are fine as brain candy.
Annie on my Mind is a classic and very sweet.
The ALA has a new and pretty extensive list for 2009:
You can check out a ton of good recommendations at my website www.gaybooksforteens.com, i did it as a project in college, hope that helps.
Lookie what I made! :-D
I heartily recommend Wij, twee jongens, by Aline Sax. An English version was released in November, (We, two boys), but it's not on LT yet.
It's a historical YA novel centered around Adrian, a Flemish boy who emigrates to NYC with his family in 1910. Unfortunately, he is the only one to make it through the examinations at Ellis Island, and thus ends up stranded in turn-of-the-century New York, with nary a penny to his name and no knowledge of the language.
And then he meets Jack. :)
A wonderfully honest and romantic novel, and the author being a historian and having done *a lot* of research helps, of course. ;)
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger is about a trans F2M teen. It's a bit clunky at times, but worth a look.
A truly excellent book is Luna by Julie Ann Peters about a girl who supports her transgendered brother as he transitions from male to female.
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan is about lesbian and bisexual girls at a gifted/talented summer camp.
If you're looking for children's books, an adorable picturebook to take a peek at is And Tango Makes Three about two male penguins who adopt an egg together.
I just read the most excellent book on this topic:
The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd...you can review it on my blog:http://www.libraryloungelizard.com/2009/05/vast-fields-of-ordinary-by-nick-burd.html
I loved this book!
My name's Jere' M. Fishback. I just published a YA novel aimed at gay teens and young adults. The title is Josef Jaeger. Here's a link to the blurb:
Here's a recent review:
Feel free to visit my website to learn more about my book and other things I publish:
I hope some members of this group will have a look at "Josef Jaeger".
In this issue of Booklist they reviewed "The Vast Fields of Ordinary" by Nick Burd. Looks pretty good for gay male YA Fiction.
Everything by Julie Anne Peters is awesome! Check out my 'LGBT' tag for more recs. Ones I particularly enjoyed are rated.
Baby Be-Bop was very good. Get it while it's hot and before it's burned.
My Most Excellent year by Steve Kluger was wonderful, funny and very romantically gay. There's three main characters. One of them is Augie, an American born Chinese who loves divas of the past and good musicals, and who slowly realises his falling in love with his new friend Angie. Really recommended!
Don't you mean Andy? And I agree, One of the BEST books I've read this year. Highly recomended.
Try The Shell House by Linda Newbery. A friend had to buy a copy when he left school because he was too good to steal the library copy.
I read both Pink by Lili Wilkinson and A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend: A Novel by Emily Horner this year and enjoyed them immensely.
Oh, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson was a lot of fun.
I personally love the Gay Youth Chronicles. It isn't that the books themselves are mindblowing, but I get seriously caught up in the stories of the characters, who meet, fall in love and grow up to become adults, so there are a couple generations going on there. http://www.markroeder.com/ has all the info on those. They're strictly stories about gay couples, but there are a few lesbians thrown into some of the books. To be honest, I haven't really found anything else. I'm waiting until I finish to the end of the series before I go hunting. Do share if you find anything great. :)
It should be noted that some of these books are almost as good for /parents/ of gay/lesbian kids because it helps them to understand what the children are going through. As a teacher, some of the moments between parents and children touched me a great deal and made me think that I'd have to recommend the book to others I knew who were watching their child go through the same thing and didn't know how to express their support.
The more recent books are getting to be a little supernatural too, so ... there's a lot of variety...
Night Sky Mine by Melissa Scott is not well known, it seems..but a terrific Sci-fi / gender identification novel. Works on many levels. I'm not sure if she won the Lambda for this one, though I know others of her SF books did. She's excellent at both world building and character building.
This isn't gay or lesbian because the main character is trans, but I really enjoyed I Am J. Highly recommended to teens and adults alike.
Love and Leftovers by Sarah Teagay is about a young woman who thinks her boyfriend is gay and her father is bi. It was written for young adults. It is written in verse (poetry) and quite interesting. I just finished it. I met Sarah at Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators workshop. It is a great book.
Know Not Why: A Novel by Hannah Johnson, while maybe not strictly YA (the main character is 22), it's a really well-written, funny and heartfelt story about a guy who gets a job at an arts and crafts store in order to meet girls (because everyone knows that girls like sensitive guys, and what could be more sensitive than knitting and stuff, right?) and instead falls in love with his male boss.
Wattpad.com has a bunch of those that you might like. Go look it up!
I am working on a presentation of my top ten LGBTQ books for 2012-2013. Some of my recent favorites have been:
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
Sin Eater's Confession
October Mourning: A Song For Matthew Shepherd
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Don't Let Me Go
Geography club by Brent Hartinger
Something Like Summer by Jay Bell
Turning 16 by Perie Wolford
Trust me and Dumb Jock by Jeff Erno
are my favorite!
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