After so many years of LGBTQIAP+ lit struggling for recognition, it’s been pretty killer to watch literary news this year, and to watch it get more mainstream multimedia recognition than ever. And since I think at any given time, we could all use some good news about the progress of LGBTQIAP+ books in publishing, here’s to highlighting some (but not even all!) of this year’s biggest successes in mainstream media:
The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in LA) by Amy Spalding was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, a Best YA Romance of 2018 by Kirkus, and among the Best YAs of 2018 by The Boston Globe and Paste
The Spy With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Paste and B&N Teen Blog and among the Best Jewish Children’s Books of 2018 by Tablet
A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Paste
Home and Away by Candice Montgomery was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog and Paste and among the Best YA Mysteries and Thrillers of 2018 by Kirkus
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Paste
For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by Paste
Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro was named among the Best YAs of 2018 by B&N Teen Blog and Paste and among the Best YA Books of 2018 About Speaking Your Truth by Kirkus
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab was named Best Science Fiction by Goodreads voters
Garrard Conley’s memoir, Boy Erased, was released as a feature film and hit the New York Times bestseller list
I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya was named among the Best YA Books of 2018 About Speaking Your Truth by Kirkus
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee was named a Best Book by TIME, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, New York Public Library, The A.V. Club, Book Riot, PopSugar, The Rumpus, My Republica, Paste, Bitch,Library Journal,Bustle, Christian Science Monitor,Shelf Awareness, Tor.com, Chicago Public Library, Entropy Magazine,The Chicago Review of Books, The Coil, iBooks, and Washington Independent Review of Books, and was longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
In my novel The Last Beginning, the main character Clove is going through a lot. She gets rejected after kissing her best friend Meg in the same week that she finds out she’s adopted. She relies on a sassy artificial intelligence called Spart for emotional support – and a girl from the future called Ella keeps interfering with her life and telling Clove that she’s her girlfriend. She’s having a pretty hard time of it, so I thought I’d recommend some books to help her chill out a little bit.
Clove’s future girlfriend Ella is a Classics major, and as Clove is more into computer science, she doesn’t know much about Greek myths. This retelling of Achilles and Patroclus’ love story will give her a starter in all things Classical, to help her keep up with Ella.
Clove’s adoptive parents, Tom and Jen, are both scientists working on building the world’s first time machine. Clove has been listening to their discussions about time travel since she was a little girl, so she would feel right at home reading this gay love story set in a world where time can stop and start at will.
In this book, Thaniel falls in love with Keita, a Japanese watchmaker with clairvoyant powers. Just like Ella, Keita has knowledge of his future relationship with Thaniel. I think this book would help Clove deal with the crazy frustrations of dating someone who thinks they know more about you than you do.
Clove knits while she’s waiting for code to compile, and to calm her nerves. She also woos Ella by giving her a green scarf she makes – so this lesbian love story about girls meeting over yarn would be perfect for them both!
In Radio Silence, British teenagers Frances and Aled are facing a breakdown of everything they thought they knew about themselves and what they wanted from life. Clove goes through something similar in The Last Beginning, so she would definitely relate.
Ella is from the future, so she and Clove face the prospect of a long-distance relationship across several centuries. She would probably like this novel about the internet relationship between two girls, told through their messages and emails, just like the conversations between Clove and Ella.
When Clove travels back in time to 1745, she feels the need to hide her sexuality, because she knows people will react badly if they found out she liked girls. In her time of 2054, sexuality isn’t an issue, and she proudly wears a rainbow wristband given to her by her dad Tom. She would probably find it comforting to read this historical novel about boys on a grand tour of Europe, which shows that there is a place for LGBT characters throughout history.
When Clove kisses her best friend Meg and gets rejected, she feels like her life is over. She doesn’t think their friendship will ever survive Clove’s advances. She would love this graphic novel series about a group of freshman girls at a British university, whose tight knit friendship group constantly faces the strain of fighting over romance, school and sexuality – and survives.
Clove would love all of these books, although she’s probably too busy to read them during The Last Beginning. I would apologise, but giving my characters tough things to deal with is one of the best parts of being a writer.
Lauren James is the author of Young Adult science fiction, including The Next Together series and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. The Last Beginning was published by Sky Pony Press in March. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.
In the hours after a bridge collapse rocks their city, a group of Boston teenagers meet in the waiting room of Massachusetts General Hospital:
Siblings Jason and Alexa have already experienced enough grief for a lifetime, so in this moment of confusion and despair, Alexa hopes that she can look to her brother for support. But a secret Jason has been keeping from his sister threatens to tear the siblings apart…right when they need each other most.
Scott is waiting to hear about his girlfriend, Aimee, who was on a bus with her theater group when the bridge went down. Their relationship has been rocky, but Scott knows that if he can just see Aimee one more time, if she can just make it through this ordeal and he can tell her he loves her, everything will be all right.
And then there’s Skyler, whose sister Kate—the sister who is more like a mother, the sister who is basically Skyler’s everything—was crossing the bridge when it collapsed. As the minutes tick by without a word from the hospital staff, Skyler is left to wonder how she can possibly move through life without the one person who makes her feel strong when she’s at her weakest.
In his riveting, achingly beautiful debut, Richard Lawson guides readers through an emotional and life-changing night as these teens are forced to face the reality of their pasts…and the prospect of very different futures.
Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.
But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.
In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.
Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.
This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.
As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.
Blaze Bellamy is the bad girl of the short track speed skating world. Looking like a roller derby bruiser when she’s not in her Team USA uniform, she’s an unlikely American heroine. She’s got a punk attitude to match her provocative dress and her dyed hair, and she’s determined to get onto the front pages of the papers regardless of how she has to do it.
Maisy Harper is the workhorse of the Canadian women’s figure skating team. Serious, modest, and above all, polite, Maisy would prefer to win her victory on the ice rather than in the press, and is exasperated by Blaze’s antics. When she’s not lusting after her anyway. After they both failed to make the medal podium at the last Snow and Ice Games, they drowned themselves in gin—and each other.
Despite their hookup being drunken, they both harbor fond memories of their night together and are keen for a repeat. But they’ve got different ways of going about getting what they want, and Blaze’s willingness to go to any lengths for the spotlight could ruin any chance she has with Maisy.
The epic conclusion to Lauren James’s debut The Next Together about true love and reincarnation.
Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives.
But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?
For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future, and failure could cost the world everything.
High school students—Soph, who attends private school in Manhattan, and Tess, a public school student who lives on a dairy farm in New Hampshire—are thrown together as roommates at a week-long writing conference. As they get to know each other and the other young women, both Soph and Tess discover unexpected truths and about friendship, their craft, and how to hold fast to their convictions while opening their hearts to love.
Zack Scherzo likes his notebooks. And his pens. And, okay, he really loves to organize stuff. He’s organized his whole life into the ideal trajectory for his ten year plan, at which point his career will be solid and he’ll be ready for a husband and family. Everything makes perfect sense.
Until he meets Isaiah.
Driven entrepreneur Isaiah Carlin generally doesn’t get involved with lost causes, like the climbing gym Zack’s trying to keep afloat. But there’s something about the gym—and there’s definitely something about Zack—that intrigues him. He wants to help. He also wants to see what happens when Zack shakes loose some of his rules and allows himself to feel.
When passion collides with Zack’s regimented life path, something’s gotta give. And it looks like that thing is going to be Isaiah, unless he can convince Zack that sometimes real life is even better than the best laid plans.
Welcome to Daniel Boone Middle School in the 1970s, where teachers and coaches must hide who they are, and girls who like girls are forced to question their own choices. Presented in the voice of a premier storyteller, One True Way sheds exquisite light on what it means to be different, while at the same time being wholly true to oneself. Through the lives and influences of two girls, readers come to see that love is love is love. Set against the backdrop of history and politics that surrounded gay rights in the 1970s South, this novel is a thoughtful, eye-opening, look at tolerance, acceptance, and change, and will widen the hearts of all readers.
Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.
The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.
Take a journey through time and genres and discover a past where queer figures live, love and shape the world around them. Seventeen of the best young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse historical fiction for teens.
From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent or an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten.
One major access problem with LGBTQIAP+ books is that so many of them are published in English and never translated into anything else. To that end, here are great books that are (or will be; some of these are forthcoming) available in other languages. (Of course, most of these books have different titles in other languages; I’ve chosen the easiest method for myself by posting the titles in English here. If you need assistance with finding the title in its native language, please feel free to contact me or comment below.)
Please note that links were taken from a combination of Amazon and author websites, so while they may not be the right link for your location, the point is to see that the translation exists so it can be a starting point for you tracking it down. I also recognize that languages can vary by territory, and that, for example, sometimes rights are specifically purchased for Brazil and the book is not available in Portugal; I did the best I could to note such instances but feel free to leave notes/corrections in the comments.
(Caveat: I have not read any of these translations, and cannot speak to whether the queer storylines have been modified, as unfortunately certain countries are particularly wont to do.)
US = a link to that edition on American Amazon, via affiliate link, or on BN.com
This will be a regularly updated resource, so if you are an author whose book has been internationally translated, please get in touch or comment below to have your book added! (Or make any corrections as needed.)
Welcome to the very first Around the Blogosqueer guest post! In this series, you’ll learn a little more about the other sites and features on the internet that are dedicated to LGBTQIAP+ lit via guest posts by the fabulous folk who run them! I’m so excited to have Lauren James here to kick it off and tell us a little more about her review site, LGBT YA!
LGBT YA is a tumblr review blog run by author Lauren James, where she reviews LGBT+ YA titles, with occasional guest posts from authors and bloggers, and reblogs LGBT+ YA related content.
I started the blog when I was writing my own LGBT YA novel, The Last Beginning (out in October!). I was looking for YA books to read which also featured lesbian characters, and I realised there was no resource available with reviews of titles – all I could find was a few defunct blogs and scattered Goodreads lists.
As I’d binge-read about 30 LBGT YA titles, I decided to start my own. I focus mainly on books which aren’t Coming Out stories – while Coming Out stories are important, I feel like that’s been done very well already. As someone past that point in my life, I want to read about what LGBT characters do after they’ve come out – because that’s the start of your life, not the end.
I also tend to focus more on SFF to Contemporary, and more lesbian/bisexual titles than otherwise, as that’s where my personal taste lies. Luckily, guest bloggers fill in the gaps!
I’m always looking for guest bloggers – if you’re interested, you can email me at email@example.com!
Lauren James sold the rights to her first novel The Next Together, a Young Adult science fiction romance, when she was 21. It was published in September by Walker Books in the UK and Australia. Rights have sold in over six territories worldwide, including the USA. It was described by The Bookseller as ‘funny, romantic and compulsively readable’. She is an Arts Council grant recipient, and is longlisted for the 2016 Branford Boase Award. She is now 23, and lives in the West Midlands. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk.