Five YA Books for Pride!

Happy London Pride! I’m gutted I can’t be in London today, and I know Pride month is June, but I wanted my Pride post to coincide with the London march. I wanted to do a post exclusively for the L in the LGBTQ+, but I find that I actually haven’t got five “faves” yet, I would just be listing the five I have read. Which sucks. More lesbian fiction is on my reading list. Therefore, this week’s post is a list of my five favourite books with LGBTQ+ characters.

A little fact about me. The first time I read about a female/female relationship, I was about 12 or 13, and it was in the last book of Libba Bray’s A Great And Terrible Beauty series. Pippa and Felicity were two of the main characters best friends, they’d spent their school year exploring a magical realm in the garden of the school, and Pippa chose to stay, to die in reality, rather than marry an older man her parents had chosen. It was just a moment, in the final book, I think Pippa is leaving for good, is planning to cross the river and she and Felicity kiss and they’ve been together the whole series. Honestly, that is it, but it meant so much to kid-me. Because it’s just sentimental value and the rest of the series isn’t all that LGBTQ friendly I haven’t included it in my list, but it’s an important one for me – and why I think representation in literature and films is so important.

For me, personally, I prefer the books where the gay happens to be incidental – like ok there’s a gay couple and it’s not a big deal. I like the emotional coming out books, but at the same time, sometimes I want to believe that it’s not a big deal and I want to read those books too.

Five YA Books for Pride!

Five
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Salez

Ari is an angry teen, Dante is the friend he met at the swimming pool. What follows is a summer of Ari trying to work out his life, and eventually work out how he feels about Dante as well. It was a really lovely book about coming out to yourself and then to others.

Four
Everything Leads to You
Nina LaCour

While I wasn’t blown away by Everything Leads to You, that was mostly because I don’t typically pick contemporary YA as a reading genre. However, what I really enjoyed about this book is how the main character is so comfortable in her sexuality, it was refreshing. This wasn’t a coming out book, it was a book about finding a new relationship where they just happen to both be women. I’m down for more romance books like that.

Three
Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom Duology
Leigh Bardugo

I love the Six of Crows duology, and it’s one of those books with a ragtag crew to family theme. I’m such a sucker for “you’re my family now” tropes, and the Trope Is Strong in this duology. However, I think the best way of admitting you like like a friend is, in response to said friend having a different face, say this, as Jesper does to Wylan:

“I don’t know,” Jesper said angrily, “Maybe I liked your stupid face.”

Two
Shades of Magic (Series)
V.E.Schwab

Honestly, I’m not sure anyone in this series is explicitly straight, but this might just be a head-canon. I fully support bisexual Kell and bisexual Lila. Rhy, prince of Red London however, is canonically bisexual – he has lots of relationships with women, but in A Gathering of Shadows, it transpires that captain Alucard is actually Rhy’s ex-boyfriend and Kell hates him for it.

One
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Becky Chambers

I absolutely freaking love Angry Planet – it’s an incredible look into relationships and community. There are loads of species (think Star Wars Cantina meets Firefly) and it explore cultural norms and respect and honestly, I love it. What I also really love about this book is how the two main human characters on the good ship Wayfarer do not at any point hook up. There is a lesbian inter-species relationship, and a relationship between a human and an AI and honestly Angry Planet is just such a beautiful book.

Notable Mentions to:

  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertnelli
  • Release by Patrick Ness
  • Ash by Malinda Lo

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