Most bookworm origin stories begin the same way: a childhood love of books, pockets filled with magic, and bookbags bursting with the latest Young Adult releases from bookstore shelves.
You stay up late with fairy tales and you cling to the comfort of relatable contemporary.
But the more books you pull off the shelves and the more pages you turn, it’s quickly obvious that most love stories are about the prince falling for the princess.
Princesses rarely kiss as the sun sets. Princes aren’t holding hands.
If you squint and tilt your head a little, you might be able to find a character in the distant background who is nonbinary… but probably not.
Why We Need Young Adult LGBTQ Books
Books owe it to the world to be inclusive and representative of a wide spectrum of sexualities and genders.
YA LGBTQ books are so important for giving teens safe places to find characters they can relate to, books to make them think, and stories that give answers to questions about identity.
While YA still has a long way to go, now there’s a much broader variety of LGBTQ stories to find. My heart always sings when I find myself in the pages of books and every reader deserves that chance.
My Introduction for You… Get This List!
Today I want to present you with a massive recommendation list of good LGBT YA books and I hope you find some stories that will feel like coming home.
LGBTQ YA Fantasy Books
Girls of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan
A lush fantasy set in an Asian-inspired land where demons rule and human girls can be taken to be concubines to their monstrous ruler. But two girls fall in love and dare to fight back.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Set in an alternate Paris in the 1800s, with magic and secret societies, a group of six misfit teens must steal back an inheritance. It features bisexual boys.
Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
Enne sets off for the City of Sin to find her missing genderfluid mother and ends up falling in with a bisexual street lord who is trying to con his way out of a debt that might just kill him.
Reign Of The Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
A fantasy world where almost everyone is bisexual and Odessa, one of the king’s own necromancers, must raise him from the dead and avoid monsters.
Of Fire And Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Epic fantasy romance where the prince is betrothed to a princess from the neighboring kingdom…but the princess falls in love with the prince’s rebellious sister instead.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
In a beautifully vicious and addictive story, sixteen criminals take on an impossible heist but the prize for winning is steep. Two of the main characters are LGBT.
The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta
After her father, the town’s crime lord is nearly murdered, his daughter sets off to find answers…and she meets a genderfluid magician on the way who teaches her how to use her powers.
Timekeeper by Tara Sim
Set in an alternate Victorian world, where time is controlled by magical clock towers and Danny, a clock mechanic, falls in love with the boy ghost inside one of the towers.
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
The mysterious Nomeolvides family work in magical unforgiving gardens and the five cousin girls are all in love with the nonbinary owner of the land.
Then they dig a mysterious boy out of the earth and secrets begin to unravel.
LGBT YA 2019 New Release Books
The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
Ryann dreams of traveling to space, but living in a trailer park means she’ll never get that dream…until she meets a girl who changes things. Featuring an F/F romance!
You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
An overachieving perfect A student works until he’s this close to a nervous breakdown. So he probably shouldn’t get a crush on the tutor, Amir, right now. Uh…right?
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
Set in an alternate timeline where viral magic ravages the world, Noam is determined for revenge against the government. Until he falls for the minister’s son.
The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg
Set in the 1980s, in a hot lazy summer, two boys whose lives are completely opposite fall in love. It promises messy families, food truck drama, and prickly pears.
Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau
An absolutely adorable graphic novel about Ari, who chaffs at having to work in his Greek family’s bakery, and hires another boy to work instead. It’s soft and sweet (and will make you hungry) and has the cutest romance.
The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta
Surrounded by the Redwood Trees of California, Tempest, five queer witches try to bring back their lost friend but uncover something darker in the woods. It’s so ethereal and whimsical too!
The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare
The Shadowhunter series is vast and sprawling, but this book focuses solely on Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood, Warlock and Shadowhunter lovers who the world is conspiring to keep apart.
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
Another graphic novel that will totally take over your heart with sheer cuteness levels.
Two boys become friends through rugby and love how easy it is to be around each other…until there’s a kiss.
Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst
A contemporary about messy families, heartache, and two girls who feel isolated and alone until they find each other. It focuses on friendship and one of the girls is questioning and identifies as queer.
Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
Here’s one to slightly ruin your heart. It’s set in the AIDS crisis of 1989, New York, where three teens make sense of the world around them.
Add in a love triangle and secrets.
How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox
This one focuses on mental illness and is an Australian #LoveOZYA debut that I thoroughly adored!
Biz is spiraling with depression and dissociation while she sees her dad’s ghost, kisses her best friend Grace (who quickly vanishes) and then meets a boy with secrets of his own.
Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) by Lev A.C. Rosen
This is glitzy, glittery, and full of sex positivity, as it centers around Jack (out and proud and gay) who decides to take control of all the gossip and rumors people spread about him by writing a controversial relationship column in the school newspaper.
LGBT YA Books With Trans And Nonbinary Characters
Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith
Chris and Maia are neighbors who don’t… get along.
But when the summer throws them together around traumatic events like accidents and grieving families, they grow closer.
Chris is also trans!
I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver
This one caught my heart in all sorts of exceptional ways!
It’s about a nonbinary teen named Ben who’s thrown out of their house after they come out to their parents.
It’s equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful as Ben finds a new place to belong and is drawn to the sunshiney boy, Nathan.
I just finished reading it and absolutely can’t stop thinking about it and how much it meant to me.
Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
This is a graphic novel about Maia, an artist who uses the pronounces e/em/eir and finally feels comfortable with the label “gender queer” to describe e’s identity.
The style is fun, the art beautiful, and it’s such a heartfelt and vulnerable story about being comfortable in your own skin.
When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
In a word, this novel is simply: gorgeous. The author is a master of beautiful imagery and language that will sweep you into magical lands where moons are painted and roses grow out of wrists.
It’s narrated by Sam (who is trans) and Miel and involves witches and secrets and a mysteriously magical village.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
This is an epically famous novel about a trans girl who at first doesn’t want to make friends or trust anyone in her new school.
Until she meets Grant. It’s about feeling different and finding your footing in a world full of rejection.
(Note: We’ve also had a full review of If I Was Your Girl)
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
This is an epic fantasy about assassins, contests, and disguises — and it features a genderfluid protagonist named Sallot.
Sal very quickly goes from lowkey thief to fighting to the death for a chance to be named one of the queen’s personal assassins.
But the person Sal wants to assassinate? The queen.
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
Fairy tale retellings are timeless and beautiful, but this one stands out from the crowd by being a magical and aching story of Peter who is trans and returns to Neverland to find all the Lost Boys grown-up, the world different, and his rivalry with Captain Hook fading as they accidentally fall in love.
Best And Underrated LGBT YA Contemporary Books
Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Son of Chinese immigrants, Danny is set for a great future in art school…except he doesn’t want to leave his best friend, Harry, behind. And things grow complicated when his parents reveal a life-changing secret.
Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
With a slight sprinkle of magical realism, this is a beautiful novel set on an island where girls might have powers and birds aren’t all they seem. Features a soft f/f romance.
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
This is the kind of romcom to warm your heart, about an asexual biromantic girl named Alice and her misadventures in college.
Boomerang by Helen Dunbar
Sean runs away from his neglectful mother to find a better family, one who loves and protects him, and then he falls for his new next-door neighbor, Trip who is in a worse situation than Sean is.
But the only way to help Trip is for Sean to go back to his real family and face the consequences of years of letting people think he died.
Release by Patrick Ness
Set over the course of one day, this is about a gay boy who is still heartbroken from being dumped and is working up the courage to come out to his conservative religious family.
But something magical and odd is stirring in the woods.
I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman
This is a love letter to fandoms, to boybands, to internet friends. Angel Rahimi has sneaked into London to stay with an internet friend and see her favorite boyband.
But the star of that band, Jimmy Kaga-Ricci, who is trans and has a severe anxiety disorder, is about to run away from his show.
White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig
Rufus Holt thought things sucked when he broke up with his boyfriend…but then add onto that the discovery of a body, illegal drugs, and a night of terror as he tries to solve the mystery before the murderer finds him.
Running With Lions by Julian Winters
A super cute romcom set at a soccer camp where two boys, who are definitely rivals and annoy each other so much, suddenly find their animosity might be covering up other feelings.
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
After a horrible car accident, Rumi is spending summer in Hawaii with her aunt. It should be a beautiful time but Rumi is swallowed by grief and she’s lost her love of music. She’s also biracial and asexual!
The Dangerous Art of Blending in by Angelo Surmelis
This one is here to make and break your heart as it follows Evan Panos, a reclusive and shy gay boy with an abusive mother and passive father, and the hope he finds in his art and the kind boy at school: Henry.
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Suzette is home from boarding school (leaving a disastrous relationship with her ex-girlfriend) to find her brother’s bipolar is getting worse. Suzette is black and bisexual!
The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston
If you’ve heard of the Prince and the Pauper…get ready for the gender-bent version set in a geek convention with an f/f romance! It features two girls who swap places, a reluctant movie star vs a passionate fan, and the shenanigans that ensue.
You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Leviathan
This is a super sweet story told in alternating perspectives of a lesbian girl and a gay boy who become accidental friends and get each other through some awkward relationship moments with their respective crushes.
Sometimes it works out…sometimes, erm, not.
Bestselling And Famous LGBT YA Books
Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
It’s such a timeless story, about vulnerability and first loves and the fear of the world-changing before you’re ready for it.
Also, there are oreos, so. That makes the book 10x better.
We wrote about this one over at YA Books that Get You Woke as well.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
This bestselling novel features the catastrophic travels of Monty and Percy as they tour Europe in the last hurrah before settling down as 1800s society gentlemen.
Except Monty is deeply in love with Percy (who he’s sure doesn’t care) and Percy (an adopted biracial boy with problematic family) hasn’t told what’s really going to happen to him after their tour.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Also made into a movie, this features Cameron as she goes to a conversion camp because she has feelings for other girls.
It’s the kind of story that can be harrowing and hopeful.
No one should ever be forced to change who they are.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
With a sequel coming out this year, it’s the perfect time to try Carry On, which is basically the Harry x Draco love story you never got in Harry Potter.
Simon and Baz are rivals at their magic school — except are they? It’s funny, clever, and there are plenty of scones and moments to steal your heart.
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Written by the famous romance duo, this features a bisexual Tanner who moves to a city that has a lot of Mormon families and churches.
His family is ex-Mormon so he’s always been warned to stay away… until he meets Sebastian.
Perfect. Clever. An author.
And absolutely not gay. Or maybe he has secrets, too.
They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera
No LGBT YA list is complete without the brilliant Adam Silvera!
An absolute favorite author of mine who writes queer identities and mental illness with vulnerability and openness that has always made me connect to his characters immediately.
This one is set in a slight sci-fi world where you get a phone call just before you die.
You have one day left.
Are you going to make the most of it? Rufus and Mateo accidentally end up together for their last day. It’s too late to hesitate now.
Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This is a beautiful and personal novel, by the perspective of Ari, who is facing a long slow summer that he nearly can’t stand.
He’s fifteen and lonely and questioning the existence of the world until he meets Dante, who hates shoes and loves swimming, and something sparks in Ari.
Maybe Dante has the answers.
What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
When this author duo announced their first co-written book, I couldn’t stop beaming!
It’s an adorkable romcom about Ben and Arthur who happen to meet amongst the wild bustle of New York.
They catch each other’s eye.
But can they find each other again? And would a relationship even work?
It’s full of mishaps and second chances and will make you laugh so much.
The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
With YA notorious for its long list of cliche tropes, this book turns them on its head when two boys (trained as spies) fight for the attention of a smart girl in high school. Except the boys fall for each other instead.
But a happy ending seems impossible when their mission means whichever boy doesn’t win the girl’s heart — gets terminated.
About the Author
CG Drews is a YA book blogger with the goal to read every book in existence. She’s aiming for immortality for this. When not reading, she writes novels and blogs at paperfury.com.