Book List

15 YA LGBTQ Books to Read ASAP

January 11, 2017
Janine Perez
Riveted Editorial Board
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The truth is that I’m not too picky with what YA I read. Sure, I have my limits (no more than 2 depressing books a month) but for the most part I don’t like to hold myself back. I like to read all genres, so I can enter all types of worlds and meet all types of people through literature. That being said, it’s certainly harder to “meet” some people than others. For example, I have a hard time finding myself in literature (please, Riveted readers, if you find a lighter-skinned, third generation young Hispanic woman who doesn’t speak Spanish in her every day life but can speak Spanish fluently and embraces her Americanism while still being faithful to her Puerto Rican heritage, introduce me). I also find that it’s more difficult than I would like to meet LGBTQ characters. Characters in the LGBTQ community have the potential to teach me and readers everywhere so much and I definitely don’t want to miss out. To that end, I’ve compiled this list of 15 YA LGBTQ books. Most of these are books I’ve read that have characters I greatly enjoyed getting to know, others have characters I can’t wait to meet!

Did I get your favorites? Did I miss your favorites? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

The You I’ve Never Knownby Ellen Hopkins

Arielle’s life is a blur of new apartments, new schools, and new faces. Since her mother abandoned the family, Arielle has lived nomadically with her father as he moves from job to job. All she’s ever wanted is to stay in one place for an entire school year, and it looks like she might finally get her wish. With a real friend, Monica, who might be even more than a friend soon, things are starting to look up.

Arielle is a great character in general but it’s so interesting to watch her explore her bisexuality amidst the chaos that is her life. 

The Scorpion Rulesby Erin Bow

Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies.

*spoiler alert* At first it seems like Greta is doomed to the “new boy in town, we must fall in love” trope. But it’s actually an old girl friend who has always been there for her that ultimately catches her heart. 

History is All You Left Meby Adam Silvera

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

I’m so excited to learn more about the relationship between Griffin and Jackson.

Boy Robotby Simon Curtis

In a single night, Isaak’s life changed forever. His adoptive parents were killed, a mysterious girl saved him from a team of soldiers, and he learned of his own dark and destructive origin.

An origin he doesn’t want to believe, but one he cannot deny.

This book has it all. Isaak is an awesome protagonist and is part of the LGBT community. Plus, this book includes a transgender girl as well as both accepting family members and not so accepting family members. 

At The Edge of the Universeby Shaun David Hutchinson

Tommy and Ozzie have been best friends since the second grade, and boyfriends since eighth. They spent countless days dreaming of escaping their small town—and then Tommy vanished.

More accurately, he ceased to exist, erased from the minds and memories of everyone who knew him. Everyone except Ozzie.

This book has a gay love triangle! In the end, will it be Ozzie and Tommy or Ozzie and Calvin (his new love interest)? I can’t wait to find out!

We Are the Antsby Shaun David Hutchinson

Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

Henry is dealing with an alien invasion while also mourning the loss of his boyfriend. Bottom line, this book gave me so many feels and I want you to be on my level, so you should read it.

And I Darkenby Kiersten White

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way.

Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada and Radu both end up having romantic feelings for the emperor, Mehmed. Talk about family drama!

As I Descendedby Robin Tally

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—but one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. But Delilah doesn’t know that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to unseat Delilah for the scholarship.Together, Maria and Lily harness the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what’s imagined, the girls must attempt to put a stop to the chilling series of events they’ve accidentally set in motion.

What’s not to love about two girls in love accidentally setting loose an ancient evil?

Not Your Sidekickby C.B. Lee

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship only it turns out to be for the town s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious ‘M,’ who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

This new take on a superhero story features both trans and bi characters! 

Look Pastby Eric Devine

Someone brutally murdered Mary Mathison, daughter of a prominent and very conservative local pastor, and Avery, a transgender boy who loved Mary, is bent on finding her killer. He goes to the crime scene to do some investigating, but is quickly put in harm’s way. Reluctantly, Avery must move to the sidelines to wait for the police to do their job.

This book is a thriller with extremely relevant topics like religion and beliefs alongside living transgender in a community that isn’t accepting. It’s definitely a must read!

The Great American Whateverby Tim Federle

Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before the car accident that changed everything. Enter: Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—okay, a hot guy—and falls, hard.

Quinn is such a quirky and relatable character. You can’t help but love him. Reading this book is almost like reading the Perks of Being a Wallflower with a gay protagonist. 

This is Where It Endsby Marieke Nijkamp

Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun.

10:00 a.m.

The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.

The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.


The auditorium doors won’t open.


Someone starts shooting.

Told from four perspectives over the span of 54 harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

I haven’t read this one yet but it has queer main characters and the all too real and scary subject of a school shooting. This one, to me, feels intense and necessary. 

South of Sunshineby Dana Elmendorf

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson.

This is just a beautiful book. Kaycee keeps her true self a secret. Bren is out and proud. They fall in love but find that life isn’t always as easy as we wish it could be. 

If I Was Your Girlby Meredith Russo

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

The secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universeby 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.

This is a slow burning love story between Aristotle and Dante that I can’t say much more about without giving everything away! All I can say is—read it now!

2 Responses to 15 YA LGBTQ Books to Read ASAP

  1. Amanto Moura says:

    OMG! I LOVED the list, can’t wait to read Adam Silveira and Shaun David ❤ I have to say that most of this titles are already in my kindle tbr, I’m so excited!

    Ps: Ari and Dan is my favorite book ever!

  2. GREAT collection of reads here, and I’m stoked to add a few more to my TBR pile.

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