Books for Young Adults (LGBTQ Friendly)

A + E 4Ever by Ilike Merey

Asher Machnik is a teenage boy cursed with a beautiful androgynous face. Guys punch him, girls slag him and by high school he’s developed an intense fear of being touched. Art remains his only escape from an otherwise emotionally empty life. Eulalie Mason is the lonely, tough-talking dyke from school who befriends Ash. The only one to see and accept all of his sides as a loner, a fellow artist and a best friend, she’s starting to wonder if ash is ever going to see all of her…. a + e 4EVER is a graphic novel set in that ambiguous crossroads where love and friendship, boy and girl, straight and gay meet. It goes where few books have ventured, into genderqueer life, where affections aren’t black and white.


Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle

Steven may be a lot of things, but he is absolutely, positively NOT gay. Determined to stop thinking about men’s health magazine covers, and how good-looking his (male) health teacher is, Steven tackles a list of “Healthy Heterosexual Strategies”… or at least tries to.


Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student breezes through the halls of his smalltown high school. Sage Hendricks befriends Logan at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. One day, Logan acts on his growing feelings for Sage. Moments later, he wishes he never had. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. But once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.


Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden

One of the most controversial youth novels published in the last 30 years, Annie On My Mind follows Liza and Annie, two girls, both outsiders, who form an unlikely friendship and a beautiful love.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire

Saenz Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.


The Arizona Kid by Ronald Koertge

I was in the West. The Old West. The Wild West! A whole summer in a new place: a place away from my parents, a place so hot the girls probably wore bikinis to church, a place where I’d take a giant step toward my dream: becoming a vet. A place where — who knows? — anything might happen.


Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Paul’s classmates aren’t like most: the cheerleaders ride motorcycles, the star quarterback transitioned from Darryl to Infinite Darlene and won homecoming queen, and the gay-straight alliance teaches dance lessons. It’s in this environment that Paul falls for – and loses – Noah, and in this environment that he fights to win Noah back.


Deliver Us From Evie by M.E. Kerr

Parr has always been glad his masculine, brusque sister Evie is a dedicated farmhand, because there’s no way he wants to do that work for the family. What doesn’t make him – or anyone in their rural Missouri town – happy is when Evie starts spending time with the town banker’s daughter, Patsy, and not just on platonic terms.


Empress of the World by Sara Ryan

When Nicola starts the summer at smart-kid haven the Siegel Institute, she’s excited to make new friends, like Katrina, Isaac, and Kevin. She’s also excited about Battle, the beautiful blonde girl whose friendship might be more-than-friendship. What’s a girl (who thought she liked guys) to do?


Far from Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters

Small town girl Mike has already had to grow up fast by the time Xanadu moves to town. Though Mike has “acknowledged” that she has same-sex attractions, she’s not about to label herself, not like her best friend Jamie did when he came out. But that may have to change when Mike starts falling —hard—for decidedly straight Xanadu.


Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

The inspiration behind the Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home,” this graphic memoir revisits Alison Bechdel’s adolescence, culminating in her coming out to her parents just before her father’s death. Grappling with themes of acceptance and self-discovery, this tragicomic is not just telling a story, it’s taking us on an emotional and psychological journey.


Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

Russell is convinced he’s the only gay person in his whole high school—until they suddenly start coming out of the woodwork: his best friend, her girlfriend, and even his secret online crush, Kevin! Needing a space to talk but worried about how the rest of the school will react, they band together by starting a club so boring no one else would ever try to join—Geography Club.


The God Box by Alex Sanchez

High school senior Paul has dated Angie since middle school, and they’re good together. They have a lot of the same interests, like singing in their church choir and being active in Bible club. But when Manuel transfers to their school, Paul has to rethink his life. Manuel is the first openly gay teen anyone in their small town has ever met, and yet he says he’s also a committed Christian. Talking to Manuel makes Paul reconsider thoughts he has kept hidden, and listening to Manuel’s interpretation of Biblical passages on homosexuality causes Paul to reevaluate everything he believed. Manuel’s outspokenness triggers dramatic consequences at school, culminating in a terrifying situation that leads Paul to take a stand.


GRL2GRL: Short Fictions by Julie Anne Peters

In this honest, emotionally captivating short story collection, renowned author and National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters offers a stunning portrayal of young women as they navigate the hurdles of relationships and sexual identity. From the young lesbian taking her first steps toward coming out to the two strangers who lock eyes across a crowded train, from the transgender teen longing for a sense of self to the girl whose abusive father has turned her to stone, Peters is the master of creating characters whose own vulnerability resonates with readers and stays with them long after the last page is turned. Grl2grl shows the rawness of teenage emotion as young girls become women and begin to discover the intricacies of love, dating and sexuality.


Huntress by Malinda Lo

Set in a mystical universe where nature is out of balance, 17 year-olds Kaede and Taisin are on a mission to save the world from the icy Fairy Queen who threatens their kind. Despite being magical and unearthly, this story feels familiar, as the two characters battle with their own feelings for each other and learn more about themselves along the way.


I Am J by Cris Beam

J had always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a “real boy” and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible—from his parents, from his friends, from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he’s done hiding—it’s time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.


I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

A Stonewall Book Award-winning novel, “I’ll Give You The Sun” is a story in two parts: half is told by Noah, and half is by Noah’s twin sister, Jude. The once-close siblings have a sudden and mysterious falling out, and it’s up to the narrators and the strange people they meet along the way to bring them back together.


It’s Not Like It’s A Secret by Misa Sugiura

Two star-crossed girls of color fall in love in this magical and easy-to-love young adult novel. Told through the lens of 16 year-old Sana, whose family moves to California as her parents go through their own trials, this coming-of-age story will be impossible to put down.


Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Puerto Rican lesbian Juliet has just come out to her mother—and it didn’t go so well. Now, she’s leaving the Bronx for an internship with her favorite activist in Portland, Oregon, and the new people and places she discovers leads her on a long, twisted road to coming of age.


Keesha’s House by Helen Frost

Keesha has found a safe place to live, and other kids gravitate to her house when they just can’t make it on their own. They are Stephie—pregnant, trying to make the right decisions for herself and those she cares about; Jason —Stephie’s boyfriend, torn between his responsibility to Stephie and the baby and the promise of a college basketball career; Dontay—in foster care while his parents are in prison, feeling unwanted both inside and outside the system; Carmen—arrested on a DUI charge, waiting in a juvenile detention center for a judge to hear her case; Harris— disowned by his father after disclosing that he’s gay, living in his car, and taking care of himself; Katie—angry at her mother’s loyalty to an abusive stepfather, losing herself in long hours of work and school.


King of the Screwups by K.L. Going

Liam Geller is Mr. Popularity. Everybody loves him. He excels at sports; he knows exactly what clothes to wear; he always ends up with the most beautiful girls in school. But he’s got an uncanny ability to screw up in the very ways that tick off his father the most. When Liam finally kicked out of the house, his father’s brother takes him in. What could a teenage chick magnet possibly have in common with his gay, glam rocker, DJ uncle who lives in a trailer in upstate New York? A lot more than you’d think. And when Liam attempts to make himself over as a nerd in a desperate attempt to impress his father, it’s his “aunt” Pete and the guys in his band who convince Liam there’s much more to him than his father will ever see.


Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle

Kate and Lissa have been best friends for four years, but when they drunkenly kiss one night and Kate refuses to acknowledge Lissa’s presence anymore, all of that is out the window. Kissing Kate explores love, life, and the fact that sometimes, the right answers aren’t the first ones that come to your mind.


The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon

When 17-year-old Ben’s dad announces to the family that he’s gay, Ben does everything he can to equally upset his father. But amidst all his recklessness, he doesn’t see the curveball headed straight for him: Ben winds up moving to Montana with not just his dad, but dad’s boyfriend, Edward. While navigating this new relationship, Ben also seeks to solve an apparent mystery next door.


Luna by Julie Anne Peters

Regan has always supported her sibling, who lives as Liam by day but revels as Luna at night. But when Liam wants to live as Luna full-time, Regan isn’t sure she’s ready for everyone else to know. This beautiful exploration of life as a transgender teenager (and as the sibling of one) is told from Regan’s point of view, and leaves no emotional stone unturned.


Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son: A Memoir of Growing Up, Coming Out, and Changing America’s Schools by Kevin Jennings

In this emotional memoir, Kevin Jennings explores not only his roots, growing up in the south and hearing slurs against his orientation more often than he heard his name, but also explores how those early days led to his anti-bullying activism in American schools.


My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

Freshman year looks like it’s going to be the most complicated of all—T.C. is trying to make Alé fall in love with him, Alé is trying to avoid her diplomat father’s government life, and Augie is coming to terms with his sexuality—but if they play their cards right, ninth grade just might end up being the most excellent year.


Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Naomi and Ely’s best friendship could survive anything—except Bruce. When Naomi’s boyfriend decides he’d rather be with Ely instead, not only do the best friends have to face that conflict, but Naomi also has to battle her own feelings for Ely.


October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman

On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was lured from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. More than a decade later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember, and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life.


One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.  Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.


Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Published in 1985, “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit” features a young lesbian growing up in a Pentecostal community. LGBTQ people raised in super religious communities will be able to relate to the trials and tribulations of protagonist Jeanette.


Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

Angela Katz-McNair has never felt quite right as a girl, but it’s a shock to everyone when she cuts her hair short, buys some men’s clothes, and announces she’d like to be called by a new name, Grady. Although Grady is happy about his decision to finally be true to himself, everybody else is having trouble processing the news. Grady’s parents act hurt; his sister is mortified; and his best friend, Eve, won’t acknowledge his existence. On top of that, there are more practical concerns–for instance, which locker room is he supposed to use for gym class? Grady didn’t expect his family and friends to be happy about his decision, but he also didn’t expect kids at school to be downright nasty about it. But as the victim of some cruel jokes, Grady also finds unexpected allies, including the school geek Sebastian, and Kita Charles, who’s a gorgeous senior. In a voice tinged with humor and sadness, Ellen Wittlinger explores Grady’s struggles—struggles any teen will be able to relate to.


Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright

Carlos Duarte knows that he’s fabulous. He’s got a better sense of style than half the fashionistas in New York City, and he can definitely apply makeup like nobody’s business. He may only be in high school, but when he lands the job of his dreams— makeup artist at the FeatureFace counter in Macy’s—he’s sure that he’s finally on his way to great things. But the makeup artist world is competitive and cutthroat, and for Carlos to reach his dreams, he’ll have to believe in himself more than ever.


Queer, There and Everywhere by Sarah Prager

Dive into LGBTQ history with Sarah Prager’s profiles on 23 people who helped further the fight for the community. The range of icons spans from politicians you know well to singers and performers whose stories haven’t been told in most history books. If you’re interested in learning how the gay rights struggle started–and where we are now—this is the perfect place to start.


Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez

Three teenage boys, coming of age and out of the closet. In a revealing debut novel that percolates with passion and wit, Alex Sanchez follows these very different high-school seniors as their struggles with sexuality and intolerance draw them into a triangle of love, betrayal, and ultimately, friendship.


Rainbow High by Alex Sanchez

Jason Carrillo, the best-looking athlete in school, has had his eyes on the prize from day one: a scholarship for college. But then his eyes turn to love—and Kyle.  Kyle Meeks, swim team star and all-around good guy, is finally in the relationship he wanted. Being in love feels so good, in fact, that he can’t imagine giving it up to go to Princeton, something he’s worked for his entire life.  Nelson Glassman, outgoing and defiant, might be HIV positive. Jeremy, the boy he loves, is HIV positive. High school’s almost over. Graduation is ahead. Life’s a bowl of cherries … right?


 Rainbow Road by Alex Sanchez

It’s the end of the road… Jason Carrillo came out to his basketball team and lost his university scholarship. Now that he’s graduated, he’s been asked to speak at the opening of a gay and lesbian high school across the country—but what is he going to say? Kyle Meeks is getting ready to go to Princeton in the fall. When his boyfriend, Jason, mentions the speaking invitation, he jumps at the chance to go with him—but can their romance survive two weeks crammed together in a car? Nelson Glassman is happy that his best friend, Kyle, has found love with Jason. Now he wants to find a soul mate of his own and is going to start looking during the road trip—but will being “third wheel” ruin his friendship with Kyle and Jason?


Ruby Fruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Another LGBTQ classic, “Rubyfruit Jungle” was published in 1973, making it pretty remarkable in its time for its portrayal of lesbian characters. Brown takes us through the middle school and high school years of Molly Bolt, who explores her own identity through a slew of hook-ups and relationships that will feel both familiar and exciting to fellow queer readers.


Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

16 year-old Simon’s coming out story is not too far from what a lot of LGBTQ teens experience. Out to only a very select few, his secret ends up in the wrong hands and he has to face the idea of being outed instead of being allowed to decide who to tell and when. This award-winning novel is already quintessential YA reading, and it’s paved the way for a lot of other queer narratives to take center stage on bookshelves everywhere. And now it is a much loved movie with the title “Love Simon”


Someday this Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron

James may have been accepted to college, but that doesn’t mean he wants to go. In fact, he doesn’t want a lot of things that his family wants for him: to stay in Manhattan, to deal with his pretentious sister… or, apparently, to ignore his attraction to his much-older co-worker, John.


Spinning by Tillie Walden

“Spinning” is a graphic memoir that you’ll want to read in one sitting because of how unique and interesting it is. Tillie Walden takes us through her childhood as a competitive ice skater, and she paints the world of her practices and competitions in such vivid detail, even spelling out the twists and tricks she learned throughout the years. But what happens off the ice— her first relationship, her forced coming-out, and her middle school friend drama—is even more gripping.


Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue (Almost) Holy Quest of Debby by S. J. Adams

Since sixth grade, Debbie Woodlawn has nursed a secret, heart-searing crush on her best friend, Lisa. But all those years of pretending to enjoy Full House reruns and abstinence rallies with Lisa go down the drain when her friend hooks up with Norman, the most boring guy at school. This earth-shattering event makes Debbie decide to do the unthinkable: confess her love to Lisa. And she has to do it tonight—before Lisa and Norman go past “the point of no return.” So Debbie embarks on a quest to find Lisa. Guiding the quest are fellow students/detention hall crashers Emma and Tim, the founding (and only) members of the wacky Church of Blue. Three chases, three declarations of love, two heartbreaks, a break-in, and five dollars worth of gas later, Debbie has been fully initiated into Bluedaism—but is there time left to stop Lisa and Norman from going too far?


Sprout by Dale Peck

Sprout Bradford has a secret. It’s not what you think—he’ll tell you he’s gay. He’ll tell you about his dad’s drinking and his mother’s death. The green fingerprints everywhere tell you when he last dyed his hair. But neither the reader nor Sprout are prepared for what happens when Sprout suddenly finds he’s had a more profound effect on the lives around him than he ever thought possible. Sprout is both hilarious and gripping; a story of one boy at odds with the expected.


Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai

The setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life “before,” when his doting mother was still alive. Amrith’s holiday plans seem unpromising: he wants to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin arrives from Canada and Amrith’s ordered life is storm-tossed. He finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy. Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed. Shyam Selvadurai’s brilliant novels, Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens, have garnered him international acclaim. In this, his first young adult novel, he explores first love with clarity, humor, and compassion.


The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

“The Art of Being Normal” tells the story of two transgender teens, Leo and Kate, at pivotal times in their lives. Kate, introduced to us at first as ‘David,’ is in the beginning stages of coming out and transitioning when Leo stands up for her against school bullies. Leo is further along in his transition, and the two help each other find community and balance in the face of adversity and transphobia.


Great American Whatever by Tim Fiderle

Aspiring screenplay writer Quinn is on the perfect path to Hollywood when tragedy strikes in his home life. His BFF helps him heal by dragging him to his first college party, where he meets a guy he starts falling for, leading to his own coming out and self-discovery, and making for a super-relatable and action-packed tale.


The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

Already iconic in the queer community, this 2012 coming-of-age novel tells the story of a young LGBTQ girl in Montana. The protagonist, Cameron Post, loses her parents in a car crash just as she’s beginning to discover her own sexuality, which propels her into an entirely different narrative of queer adolescence. The moving novel is now a movie starring Chloe Grace Moretz, set to premiere at Sundance in January 2018.


Two Parties, One Tux, and a Very Short Film about the Grapes of Wrath by Steven Goldman

Mitchell isn’t just your average kid— he’s even more average than that. He’s barely making it through eleventh grade when everything changes—his best (and only friend) comes out, a popular girl asks him out, and don’t even mention the prom!


The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

It’s Dade’s last summer at home, and things are pretty hopeless. He has a crappy job, a “boyfriend” who treats him like dirt, and his parents’ marriage is falling apart. So when he meets and falls in love with the mysterious Alex Kincaid, Dade feels like he’s finally experiencing true happiness. But when a tragedy shatters the final days of summer, he realizes he must face his future and learn how to move forward from his past.


Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

What’s in a name? When two teenagers meet who have nothing in common besides both being named Will Grayson, their worlds will change in ways they never saw coming.


Go here for links to more resources including more books for more ages.