I am going to be completely honest; I love Young Adult fiction. Even as a twenty-four-year-old woman a year our of college and making a living, Young Adult fiction always grabs my attention. All children should be encouraged to read books, and the books we read should reflect the world we live in and the type of people we will meet in our lifetime. Many children's books will teach us that everyone is different, but when most Young Adult fiction has the same three types of characters, those readers may be left in the dust. Since I am all for diversity in our literature and my love for LGBTQ+ activism grows more and more every day, here are five LGBTQ+ books every teen should have on their bookshelves.
1. "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" by Becky Albertalli
The book that "Love, Simon" was based on, "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda follows sixteen-year-old no-so-openly gay Simon Spier after his private email was accessed by a student by accident. This means Simon has to find a way to step out his comfort zone without alienating his friends or compromising himself. It is a great coming-of-age story with lots of funny wit and is the best kind of love story.
2. "Juliet Takes a Breath" by Gabby Rivera
"Juliet Takes a Breath" not only tackles the issue of sexual orientation, but it also tackles the issues of race, gender identity, and ethnicity all at once too. The book follows Juliet Milagros Palante, a Puerto Rican lesbian who heads to Portland, Oregon for an internship with the author of her favorite book, Harlowe Brisbane. Right after she comes out to her family, she fears that her mother will not speak to her again. This is not just a must-read for any LGBTQ+ youth, but anyone of color too.
3. "Leah on the Off-Beat" by Becky Albertalli
The sequel to "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda", "Leah on the Off Beat" focuses on Simon's best friend Leah and her attempts to deal with various personal issues, including relationships, body image, sexuality, self-esteem, and college transitions. Like "Juliet Takes a Breath," "Leah on the Off Beat" focuses on a variety of issues that many LGBTQ+ youth face in their every day lives. If you enjoyed "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda," you sure will love "Leah on the Off Beat."
4. "If I Was Your Girl" by Meredith Russo
"If I Was Your Girl" is about Amanda Hardy, a new girl in school who wants to make friends an fit in. She meets a boy, Grant, who she immediately falls in love with, but is scared to tell him that she is transgender. The book normalizes the trans experience by talking about her medical transition and is a crucial Young Adult novel about accepting and embracing who you are.
5. "Symptoms of Being Human" by Jeff Garvin
"Symptoms of Being Human" is about Riley Cavanaugh, a gender-fluid teenager growing up in the conservative town of Orange County and is confused about his identity. His therapist suggests that he creates an anonymous blog that tells the truth about what it is really like to be a gender-fluid teenager. The blog ends up going viral, and one commenter finds out it is him, threatening exposure. It is a great read for any teen trying to find their identity.