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Recommended Young Adult titles to mark LGBT History Month 2017

Written by · Published Feb 9, 2017

Oranges are not The only Fruit, Girl Meets Boy, What We Left Behind, Cruel Summer, Starring Kitty, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, The Big Life, Half Wild

To mark LGBT History Month 2017, we’ve expanded our list of LGBT books for children and young people from 2016 to make a bumper list of recommended titles for young adults.

Oranges are not the Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson

“Jeanette is adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves.”

First published in 1985, this title has retained its relevance and fully deserves to be called a ‘classic’.

Ash, by Malinda Lo

“With her parents both gone, Ash finds herself a servant in the house of her ruthless stepmother and there seems no hope of finding happiness again. But Ash is unaware of her mother’s legacy, and that it will lead her to a magical place. A place where love, identity and belonging are all waiting.”

Adaptation, by Malinda Lo

“Flocks of birds are hurling themselves at aeroplanes across America. Thousands of people die. On Reese’s long drive home, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened. For Reese, though, this is just the start. She can’t remember anything from the time between her accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: she’s different now. Torn between longtime crush David and new girl Amber, the real question is: who can she trust?”

Inheritance, by Malinda Lo

“Reese and David are not normal teens - not since they were adapted with alien DNA by the Imria, an extraterrestrial race that has been secretly visiting Earth for decades. Now everyone is trying to get to them: the government, the Imria, and a mysterious corporation that would do anything for the upper hand against the aliens.”

Sequel to Adaptation.

Trumpet, by Jackie Kay

“Joss Moody has died and the jazz world is in mourning. But in death, Joss can no longer guard the secret he kept all his life, and Colman, his son, must confront the truth: the man he believed to be his father was, in fact, a woman.”

Girl Meets Boy, by Ali Smith

“Girl meets boy. It’s a story as old as time. But what happens when an old story meets a brand new set of circumstances?

“Ali Smith’s re-mix of Ovid’s most joyful metamorphosis is a story about the kind of fluidity that can’t be bottled and sold.

“It is about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation, a story of puns and doubles, reversals and revelations.”

Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, by Kerry Hudson

“This is the story of a Scottish childhood of sordid council flats and B&Bs, screeching women, feckless men, fags and booze and drugs, the dole queue and bread and marge sandwiches. It is also the story of an irresistible, irrepressible heroine, a dysfunctional family you can’t help but adore, and the absurdities of the 80s.”

George, by Alex Gino

“A bright, bold debut about a girl who happens to have been born a boy but refuses to let that stand in the way of her dream, George is a pertinent and poignant middle-grade read for kids of all backgrounds.”

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

“Gabe has always identified as a boy, but he was born with a girl’s body. With his new public access radio show gaining in popularity, Gabe struggles with romance, friendships, and parents - all while trying to come out as transgendered. An audition for a station in Minneapolis looks like his ticket to a better life in the big city. But his entire future is threatened when several violent guys find out Gabe the popular DJ is also Elizabeth from school.”

Golden Boy, by Abigail Tarttelin

“Max Walker is the golden boy. He’s the perfect son, the perfect friend and the perfect crush for the girls at his school. He’s attractive, he’s intelligent, he’s athletic. He’s even nice to his little brother. But he has a terrible secret. If his secret gets out, his perfect life will be blown apart.”

What We Left Behind, by Robin Talley

“What if discovering who you really are means letting go of who you’ve been? Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college they’re sure their relationship will stay rock solid.

“The reality of being apart, however, is very different. Toni’s discovering a new world - and a new gender identity - but Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside of their relationship. While Toni worries that she won’t understand Toni’s shifting identity, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in to this puzzle. Now they must decide if their love is strong enough to last.”

If I Was Your Girl, by Meredith Russo

“My name is Amanda. I’m 18. When you look at me, you might see that I’m pretty and popular, you might think my life is easy. But being me has never been easy - because I haven’t always been Amanda. When I was born, I was named Andrew. Now, at my new school, I finally feel like myself. But do I owe my new friends the truth about my past?”

When Everything Feels Like The Movies, by Raziel Reid

“Inspired by a true story, this is an edgy, extravagant novel for young people and others, full of gender-bending teen glamour, dark mischief and enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi.”

More Than This, by Patrick Ness Also available as an eBook

“A boy called Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. How is that possible? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighbourhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust and completely abandoned. What’s going on?”

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness Also available as an eBook

“This bold, irreverent novel powerfully asks what if you weren’t the ‘chosen one’? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up his high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions!”

Cruel Summer, by Juno Dawson (published as James Dawson)

“A year after the suicide of one of their friends, the rest of the group decide to spend the summer together in a holiday villa in the Mediterranean. They’re hoping to get over the terrible events of the previous year, but then a new guest arrives - claiming to have evidence that the suicide was actually murder. When she is found dead, it becomes clear that the killer must be one of them - but who is it? And will they strike again?”

All of the Above, by Juno Dawson (published as James Dawson)

“When 16-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are, all in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the coolest girl Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band - and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria but then there’s Polly.”

Read Me Like a Book, by Liz Kessler

“Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling - that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her. Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way - not Miss Murray, her English teacher?”

Far From You, by Tess Sharpe

“Nine months. Two weeks. Six days. That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend Mina died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong - a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered. Forced into rehab for a drug addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer. But can she track them down before they come for her?”

Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan Also available as an eBook

“Paul has been gay his whole life and he’s confident about almost everything. He doesn’t have to hide his feelings like best friend Tony. Or even cope with loving the wrong guy like his other best friend Joni. But heartbreak can happen to anyone. Falling in love changes everything.”

Starring Kitty, by Keris Stainton

“Sometimes the greatest love stories happen behind the scenes…

“Kitty’s keeping secrets. Like how she’s struggling to cope with her mum’s illness. And how she’s falling for the girl with the purpley-red hair. A fun film competition with her friends Sunny and Hannah seems like the perfect distraction. But then Dylan wants to be more than Kitty’s secret. Is Kitty ready to let her two worlds meet or will she risk losing Dylan forever?”

A Kiss in the Dark, by Cat Clarke

“When Alex meets Kate the attraction is instant. Alex is funny, good-looking, and a little shy - everything that Kate wants in a boyfriend. Alex can’t help falling for Kate, who is pretty, charming and maybe just a little naive. But one of them is hiding a secret, and as their love blossoms, it threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their lives.”

Undone, by Cat Clarke

“Jem is determined to avenge the death of her beloved best friend who was driven to desperation after being outed by the popular crew at school. She’s going to take down those responsible, one by one. But what if Kai was keeping secrets from Jem?”

Clariel, by Garth Nix Also available as an eBook

“Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.”

I’ll Give You The Sun, by Jandy Nelson Also available as an eBook

“Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realise is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.”

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz Also available as an eBook

“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 they meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the two loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special kind of friendship - the kind of friendship that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through their friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves - and about the kind of people they want to be.”

The City’s Son, by Tom Pollock

“Expelled from school, betrayed by her best friend and virtually ignored by her dad, it seems as though Beth’s world is falling apart. Retreating to the sanctuary of the streets, Beth meets Filius Viae, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London, who opens her eyes to a place she’s never truly seen.”

First in the Skyscraper Throne trilogy.

The Glass Republic, by Tom Pollock

“Pen’s life is all about secrets: the secret of the city’s spirits, deities and monsters her best friend Beth discovered, living just beyond the notice of modern Londoners; the secret of how she got the intricate scars that disfigure her so cruelly, and the most closely guarded secret of all: Parva, her mirror-sister, forged from her reflections in a school bathroom mirror.”

Second in the Skyscraper Throne trilogy.

Our Lady of the Streets, by Tom Pollock

“Ever since Beth Bradley found her way into a hidden London, the presence of its ruthless goddess, Mater Viae, has lurked in the background. Now Mater Viae has returned with deadly consequences. Streets are wracked by convulsions as muscles of wire and pipe go into spasm, bunching the city into a crippled new geography; pavements flare to thousand-degree fevers, incinerating pedestrians; and towers fall, their foundations decayed.

“As the city sickens, so does Beth - her essence now part of this secret London. But when it is revealed that Mater Viae’s plans for dominion stretch far beyond the borders of the city, Beth must make a choice: flee, or sacrifice her city in order to save it.”

Third in the Skyscraper Throne trilogy.

The Accident Season, by Moira Fowley-Doyle

“It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom. The accident season has been part of 17-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear. But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?”

The Big Lie, by Julie Mayhew

“Jessika Keller is a good girl: she obeys her father, does her best to impress Herr Fisher at the Bund Deutscher Madel meetings and is set to be a world champion ice skater. Her neighbour Clementine is not so submissive. Outspoken and radical, Clem is delectably dangerous and rebellious. And the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend. But which can she live without?”

What’s Up With Jody Barton?, by Hayley Long

“It’s hard enough being one half of the world’s least identical twins, without both of you falling for the same guy. Jolene’s turned flirting into a fine art, but Jody? Not so much. And as if a twinny love triangle wasn’t messy enough - there’s something nobody knows about Jody Barton.”

Pantomime, by Laura Lam

“Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. Gene and Micah have a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.”

Shadowplay, by Laura Lam

“The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes. He and the white clown, Drystan, have taken refuge in the decaying Kymri Theatre, home to the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. Though no longer a circus performer, Micah must still conduct a balancing act between his past and his future, while both avoiding the renewed and embittered rivalry of the magicians of Ellada and the Policiers who are convinced Micah played a part in the death of his old Ringmaster.”

Sequel to Pantomime.

Half Bad, by Sally Green

Half Bad by Sally Green is a debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches. You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch. You get sick if you stay indoors after dark. You hate white witches but love Annalise, who is one. You’ve been kept in a cage since you were 14. All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the black witch who eats boys. And do that before your 17th birthday. Easy!”

First in the Half Bad series - features a gay Black Witch named Gabriel.

Half Wild, by Sally Green

“After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift - a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him.

“Meanwhile, Soul O’Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black Witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White Witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black Witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?”

Second in the Half Bad series.

Half Lost, by Sally Green

“Nathan Byrn is running again. The Alliance of Free Witches has been all but destroyed. Scattered and demoralised, constantly pursued by the Council’s Hunters, only a bold new strategy can save the rebels from total defeat. They need the missing half of Gabriel’s amulet - an ancient artifact with the power to render its bearer invincible in battle.

“But the amulet’s guardian, the reclusive and awesomely powerful witch Ledger, has her own agenda. To win her trust, Nathan must travel to America and persuade her to give him the amulet. Combined with his own gifts, it might just be enough turn the tide for the Alliance and end the bloody civil war between Black and White witches, once and for all.”

Third in the Half Bad series.

The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black

“Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, lies a glass casket. Inside the casket lies a sleeping faerie prince that none can rouse. He’s the most fascinating thing Hazel and her brother Ben have ever seen. They dream of waking him - but what happens when dreams come true? In the darkest part of the forest, you must be careful what you wish for.”

Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld

“Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision, until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wing.

“Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled.”

We All Looked Up, by Tommy Wallach

“Before Ardor, we let ourselves be defined by labels - the athlete, the slut, the slacker, the overachiever. But then we all looked up and everything changed. They said the asteroid would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we’d been, something that would last even after the end. Two months to really live.”

Maggot Moon, by Sally Gardner Also available as an eBook

“When his best friend Hector is suddenly taken away, Standish Treadwell realises that it is up to him, his grandfather and a small band of rebels to confront and defeat the ever-present oppressive forces of The Motherland.”

Wildthorn, by Jane Eagland

“17-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor’s daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labelled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free.”

Because You’ll Never Meet Me, by Leah Thomas Also available as an eBook

“Ollie and Moritz are two teenagers who will never meet. Each of them lives with a life-affecting illness. Contact with electricity sends Ollie into debilitating seizures, while Moritz has a heart defect and is kept alive by an electronic pacemaker. If they did meet, Ollie would seize, but turning off the pacemaker would kill Moritz.

“Through an exchange of letters, the two boys develop a strong bond of friendship which becomes a lifeline during dark times - until Moritz reveals that he holds the key to their shared, sinister past, and has been keeping it from Ollie all along.”

You Know Me Well, by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

“A book told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.”

We recommend Mermaids, an organisation that works with families of transgender children.

Alice Violett

Alice Violett

I write and edit content for the Suffolk Libraries website. Visit my website.