I'm so excited to welcome Robin Talley, fellow YADCer and an all around phenomenal woman and author to chat about what she considered the most important LGBTQ books for teens!
Top 10 LGBTQ Books Every Teen Should Read
This list was incredibly difficult to put together. I recommend my personal favorite LGBTQ YA titles all the time, but to make a list of books every teen should read? That’s a lot of pressure!
But, after much debate, I narrowed it down to the titles below. In addition to YA books, I’ve included two classic adult titles as well as two middle grade books, but I think all of the books listed will appeal to teen readers. Here we go, in alphabetical order:
· 5, 6, 7, Nate by Tim Federle. This middle-grade title is the sequel to Better Nate Than Ever, and really, you should read them both. But 5, 6, 7, Nate is the book that starts to explore the romantic life of 13-year-old aspiring Broadway sensation Nate, and it’s hilarious as well as touching. I recommend this for all readers ages 10 to 100.
· Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. A modern classic, this story of two Mexican-American boys who slowly become one another’s world in 1980s Texas is captivating as a coming-of-age story, a romance, and a portrait of a beautifully specific time and place.
· Far From You by Tess Sharpe. A murder mystery about a bisexual girl recovering from a drug addiction who sets out to find the killer of the girl she loved, this is a story packed with unforgettable characters that sucks you in and leaves you sobbing at the end. Or it did me, at least.
· George by Alex Gino. This middle-grade story centers around a fourth-grade girl named Melissa who is struggling to figure out where she fits in a world that incorrectly sees her as a boy named George. It’s essential reading for all ages, with a lovely story at its heart.
· If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan. Two girls in love in Tehran face incredible obstacles, including a strictly enforced legal ban on same-sex relationships. Another piece of essential reading, including for teens living in more progressive areas who may not be familiar with the intense opposition LGBTQ people face in many parts of the world.
· The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth. This coming-of-age story of a lesbian teen growing up in 1990s Montana is the book I wish I’d had when I was a teen myself. From first crushes to conversion therapy to small-town politics, this novel is packed with themes that will resonate with all readers.
· More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. This coming-of-age sci-fi-ish story made me laugh, cry, and nod slowly in recognition more times than I can count. Set in the Bronx and focused on the incredible power of memory and how it shapes our identities, Aaron’s story is a new YA classic.
· Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. I nearly referred to this one as an “old classic,” but it actually came out in 1998 ― not that long ago, really, but that’s about a million years when it comes to LGBTQ publishing. Tipping the Velvet is an adult title about a young woman (18 when the story begins) in 1890s London who falls in love with another girl ― and that’s just the beginning of her adventures. A tip, from personal experience: If you’re ever reading this book on public transportation, it’s a real conversation-starter.
· When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. Coming out in October 2016, this love story between a bi cis girl and a straight trans boy is packed with magic and emotion. If you read McLemore’s first book, The Weight of Feathers, you already know exactly what I mean. Put this one high on your TBR.
· You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan. With alternating POVs following two queer teens in contemporary San Francisco during Pride Week, this story is possibly the most breathtaking depiction I’ve read in YA of a genuine and supportive community of queer folks of all stripes.
· Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, by Audre Lorde. Another classic adult title, this is part-memoir, part-fiction, part-myth, all written by a groundbreaking poet. Released in 1982, the story focuses on Lorde’s childhood and young adulthood. Modern teen readers will be fascinated to learn about what life was like for an out lesbian in 1950s Greenwich Village, as well as about Lorde’s complicated relationship with her mother, an immigrant from the Caribbean.
ABOUT AS I DESCENDED:
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing 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 is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.
ABOUT ROBIN TALLEY:
I live in Washington, D.C., with my wife, our baby daughter, an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. Whenever the baby's sleeping, I'm probably busy writing young adult fiction about queer characters, reading books, and having in-depth conversations with friends and family about things like whether Jasmine's character motivation was sufficiently established in Aladdin.
8/29: Fiction Fare - Review
3 Finished Copies of AS I DESCENDED (US Only)