YA Fiction Featuring LGBTQ+ Characters that I Either Love or Am Really Excited About

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1) When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid

Reid’s Governor-General-award-winning novel is about a gender-nonconforming, foul-mouthed, flamboyant gay boy, Jude, who deals with the homophobic harassment at school by pretending he is living in a glossy, Hollywood movie. The novel is a testament to the queer imagination as an abuse survival strategy, refusing to paint Jude as a victim despite the hate crime at the core of the book.

2) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

This is a rich, subtly written but complex Printz Honor book about two Mexican-American teen boys falling in love. Exploring cultural, class, and sexual identities, it is adept at portraying Aristotle’s struggle to understand his emotions, especially anger.

3) Pantomime by Laura Lam

Pantomime is the first book in a high fantasy, Victorian era series about Micah, an intersex, bisexual, and genderqueer character. Fleeing home after being betrayed by noble parents, Micah joins the circus, but discovers there is a dark side, foretold by visions of the future.

4) (You) Set Me on Fire by Mariko Tamaki

An irreverent, darkly hilarious tale told in an incredibly authentic and mesmerizing voice, this novel is about Allison’s fire year of college, where she tries to avoid repeating the mistakes of her past. Unfortunately, fire both literal and metaphorical continue to follow her as she falls into a toxic friendship-and-maybe-more with a girl from her dorm.

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5) Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey

Lost Boi is a queer punk re-telling of Peter Pan featuring orphaned, abandoned, and runaway teens living in a squat. Tackling homelessness, poverty, BDSM, genderqueer identity, and addiction, this book doesn’t shy away from hard questions, most of all what it really means to grow up.

6) Adaptation by Malinda Lo

An edge-of-your-seat science fiction thriller, Adaptation is a like an episode of the X-Files starring a bisexual teen girl. It features aliens, love triangles, government conspiracies, the search for bisexual identity, and the wonderful ethnic and cultural diversity of San Francisco.

7) If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl is a love story about a teen trans girl who is afraid to come out to the boy she has met at her new school and developing a friendship-and-maybe-more with. One of the few YA novels about a trans girl written by a trans woman, it explores how much you lose when you guard your heart too closely. This novel is out in May of this year!

8) I am J by Cris Beam

A coming-out novel about a biracial Latino teen trans guy, I am J is a powerful testament to being true to yourself. It is a realistic, complex, and sensitive portrayal of a trans man of colour, a rare thing in all literature, let alone young adult.

– Casey is an MLIS student at UBC by day, but you might know her better as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.

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