Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that SCOTUS officially legalized gay marriage. First off, their last paragraph was BEAUTIFUL and I’m a word nerd so here you go:
#LoveWins, y’all. There are a lot of people who can write a lot more eloquently than I can on the subject – on what our country’s done. Instead, I figured I’d put together some reading choices in YA lit that really show the struggles, beauty, and impact of what these rulings and lifestyles mean. There’s a website the Gay YA that does a whole lot better of a job than I do for recommendations but here are my individual favorites:
Novel: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour | Goodreads
Release Date: May 15, 2014
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.
Nina LaCour blew me away with this one: it’s soft and lovely and absolutely heartwarming. Instead of using her sexuality as a primary struggle, Emi (the narrator) has her own issues to go through and simply has a beautiful romance with a girl on the side. Somebody (David Levithan?) wrote about how it’s hard to avoid only writing issue books when dealing with other sexualities because of how prevalent those issues are, but it’s still a bit refreshing to simply read a romance. Her writing is stunning. This book is one of my overall favorites, not just relating to Gay YA.
Novel: Speechless by Hannah Harrington | Goodreads
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret
Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.
Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.
But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.
This one DOESN’T have an LGBTQIA+ main character. Instead, it focuses on the girl who spurred a hate crime against two gay boys, and the resulting struggle. An outcast, she’s forced to completely restructure the way she thinks. It’s not one for anybody who has to like their main characters (a la my character morality post) but it’s a valuable read and speaks volumes. Plus, it has some really really good scenes of people standing up for love – and some great monologues on the subject.
Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.
After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden’s powers to unlock Belle Dam’s secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father–and Trey, the enigmatic guy he’s falling for, is Catherine’s son.
To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.
I think it’s so hard for gay YA to break out of the contemporary genre – there aren’t THAT many fantasy, paranormal, or otherwise out-of-genre picks for books featuring LGBTQIA+ romances or main characters. Scott Tracey has a really unique humor and I love the atmosphere within his plots. His stories are really good and definitely deserve more credit.
There are plenty that I’ve read and loved, or haven’t gotten around to, but still deserve their credit nonetheless. It was so hard to pick a top three, honestly! But I figured I’d leave it to the experts.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan | Goodreads
Why? DAVID LEVITHAN. He is MAGNIFICENT and I adore him and his eloquence and you’ve heard me gush about him at BEA 2015 but basically: anything this man says, I will repeat. I value his opinions and his insight, and his writing always hits you hard with reflective lines.
Shine by Lauren Myracle | Goodreads
Why? I read this a few years ago and was blown away by the subtle grace of the narrative. The Southern charm (and some of the conservatism that goes with that) was handled so delicately and with such gritty poignance. Despite its awards, I feel like it’s pretty under the radar. Beautiful story though.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth | Goodreads
Why? This one’s long and slow – so it’s not necessarily for everyone – but is rooted in a more intolerant atmosphere that creates a perpetual coming-of-age struggle. Cameron’s family life intersects with her explorations of her sexuality in emotional ways.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson | Goodreads
Why? Half the book focuses on Noah, who at thirteen, knows that he’s gay. The scenarios that cropped up in this book were realistic – invested with the same kind of heart-tugging, sometimes cringeworthy scares that would be present in real life for a preteen kid coming out for the first time. Plus, I have a weakness for synesthesia and adored how strange he was. The writing is phenomenal.
What books do Y’ALL recommend?