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The 10 Best Gay Young Adult Novels You Should Have Read Already By Now! 

The 10 Best Gay Young Adult Novels You Should Have Read Already By Now! 

The world of young adult fiction has always been a wild one mirrored by none other. Trying new things, exploring new worlds, and discovering what it means to be an adult person. Not just any person, either, but yourself – whoever that might be.

It’s not easy growing up, and most of us spend our time doing it wishing it was over. Once one leaves the foggy area of ‘child’ and enters the expanse of ‘teenagerhood’, it starts to feel like the day that we are called an adult can’t come fast enough.

That’s understandable, especially given the suboptimal situations many queer teens find themselves stuck in, thanks to their age. But it isn’t all gloom. There are many things to miss about not being grown up yet, and young adult fiction is one of the things that stand to be missed as an older reader.

Best Gay Young Adult Novels - Best Gay Young Adult Novels - Best Gay Young Adult Novels - books on Gay Young Adult Novels

But not all writers for young adult fiction – especially when it involves queer themes – are young adults themselves, so what exactly defines the difference between YA and regular novels aside from the ages of the main characters? Some list differences in voices and perspectives as defining factors, as well as relatable themes. 

This bracket of ‘relatable themes’ can include anything from first love and high school/college to a ‘Coming of Age’ arc and seeking independence from parents or similar reliance to start a new life. The good stuff. Everyone is a sucker for it, at least sometimes, you have to admit. 

Thus it goes without saying that the qualities we associate with YA novels translate perfectly to queer romance fiction – combining the quirky and upbeat with the emotion of a teenager’s everyday life for a literary cocktail unlike any other.

For many – and for most of those who take the time to read YA fiction – it’s a match made in heaven. The writing style mirrors feelings that we’ve all had at one time or another exceptionally well, making for a reading experience unlike any other.

So let’s bring it together – now-teens and once-teens – for a dose of the good stuff. We’re talking about the ten best gay young adult novels…

You go from me

In June for months on end

To study equanimity

Among high trees alone;

I go out with a new boyfriend

And stay all summer in the city where

Home mostly on my own

I watch the sunflowers flare.

You travel East

To some fresh task

Some improvising skill

Your face is turned, of which I ask

Nothing except the presence:

Beneath white hair your clear eyes still

Are candid as the cat’s fixed narrowing gaze

Its pale-blue incandescence

In your room nowadays.

To help your relatives.

The rainy season’s start, at least,

Brings you from banishment:

And from the hall a doorway gives

A glimpse of you, writing I don’t know what,

Through winter, with head bent

In the lamp’s yellow spot.

From In Trust by Thom Gunn
Queer Literature

Don't have time to read them all? Why not try listening to them? Audible is a great platform for listening to audiobooks because it offers a wide selection of books, including bestsellers and exclusive content. With Audible, you can listen to your favorite books on-the-go, whether you're commuting, working out, or doing household chores.

The Audible app also has features like adjustable narration speed, a sleep timer, and the ability to create bookmarks, making it easy to customize your listening experience. Additionally, Audible offers a membership program that gives members access to a certain number of audiobooks per month, making it a cost-effective option for avid listeners. 

A great resource for people who want to maximize their time and make the most out of their daily activities. Try a free 30-day trial from Audible today, and you'll get access to a selection of Audible Originals and audiobooks, along with a credit to purchase any title in their premium selection, regardless of price (including many of the books on this list!) 

For ebook lovers, we also recommend Scribd, basically the Netflix for Books and the best and most convenient subscription for online reading. While they have a catalog comprising over half a million books including from many bestselling authors, for some of the books on this list, you'll still have to purchase individually - either as a paperback or eBook to load on your Kindle - due to publishing house restrictions. 

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Better known for its movie adaptation ‘Of Love, Simon, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a shining example of the genre and a worthy place to start any conversation about YA gay romance fiction. 

In high school and trying his best to fit in, Simon is sixteen and perfectly normal. Or, at least, that’s what his parents, friends, and everyone at school think. Deep inside, he’s always known that he is different. Different, at least, from the expectations people seem to have of him. 

After another kid uses the school’s online forum to anonymously come out as gay, however, Simon very quickly succumbs to the urge to contact him and share details of his own life while growing increasingly fond of the unknown Blue. What made him realize that he was gay was what he would do if the people around him found out he was gay.

His attachment and the temptation to know who the real Blue is soon overpowered him, but before he can give in to the need for them to meet in person, things are very suddenly complicated by a new player on the field. His emails have been found and are about to become potentially disastrous blackmail material.

Both the adaptation in the film ‘Love, Simon and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda tell masterful, gripping, and twist-filled stories, leaving the reader or the watcher clutching their stomach and feeling as though they were being taken along on the same emotional roller-coaster that Simon himself is riding.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - best gay young adult novel

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What if It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

A coincidental meeting in front of a post office. Broken expectations renewed dreams. A shared interest, a blossoming friendship, and a sparking romance. These are all things that Ben and Arthur share.

This co-authored masterpiece is the second entry bellowing to Albertalli on this list – and we’re only two books in! – but that doesn’t make it any less worth mentioning. Ben is a disillusioned soul, still hurting from the falling apart of his last relationship, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling like there is hope for something new.

Arthur couldn’t agree more – an energetic, enthusiastic young man with a taste for Broadway, he’s ready to give anything a go, just as long as the opportunity presents itself to him.

The unexpected, accidental meeting of Ben and Arthur sparks a chain of events that spans long into both of their futures and leaves them to question whether coincidences can be perfect after all. Is it possible that they were meant for each other? What if it’s us?

With an equally well-received sequel already published and having been prepared for adaptation into a film, What if It’s Us is a number one New York Times Bestseller, and the dedication and skill that went into writing it shows at every turn.

The story is polished, engaging, and never lets up its constant barrage of witty dialogue and emotional scenes. There’s no doubt that What if It’s Us is worth reading. A better question is – why haven’t you read it already?

What if It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera - best gay young adult novel

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As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper

Marty finally feels free. He has arrived in London with nothing but his oboe to his name, and while his savings aren’t all that considerable and he has left a pair of angry parents behind him, he is determined to start his new future off with a bang. It’s time for Marty to be himself – to explore what makes him happy and to embrace what the future holds.

A classic tale following in the footsteps of an ambitious, exploring young man taking his first leaps into a new, free world, As Far As You’ll Take Me is a lot more than it seems at the beginning. Though Marty begins his journey through Europe with great confidence and zeal, it soon shows that he is not as prepared as he considers himself to be and needs someone there to have his back.

Marty begins to feel lonelier than he has ever felt before and grows increasingly desperate to find somewhere he can call home without feeling as though he is hurting anyone or compromising himself.

Written by Phil Stamper and somewhat of an autobiography of the author’s hopes and dreams for the future upon leaving his home state, As Far As You’ll Take Me may not be as idyllic as other books on this list, but the tale and meaning it presents are impactful and engaging nonetheless, taking the reader on a heartfelt journey of what it means to grow up and find yourself.

As Far As You'll Take Me by Phil Stamper - best gay young adult novel

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I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre

Sometimes, despite all the silly movies and overblown romances of old, it does happen. Love comes when you’re least expecting it and from where you least expected it to come. 

This is exactly what happens to Emma in I Think I Love You. 

Not that she wasn’t open for it, or perhaps even expecting it to happen – Emma positively loves sappy romance movies, fantasizing about ‘the one’ right for her, and believes in love at first sight more than most. However, Sophia – the other half of this unwitting drama – isn’t exactly pleased by this development and, most of all, Emma’s sappy interests.

And that’s where the conflict begins. It seems like this ‘meant to be love’ is instead quite literally ‘meant not to be’, and that the story is set to be about a pair of lovers-to-enemies rather than the other way around. At least until yet another twist takes hold and leaves the two girls seeing sides of themselves and each other they have never seen before. 

Written in a fresh, modern way that capitalizes on every possible opportunity to evoke thought, feeling, and care in its characters, I Think I Love You is everything good about the YA romance genre.

The indecisiveness, the firsts, and the discovery of self. A must-read for those who love the subversion of expectations, this book is set to take up a prized position on the shelves of many readers for a long time to come.

I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre - best gay young adult novel

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The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch

The Sky is a small-town boy with a big heart – openly gay and determined to remain optimistic; he nevertheless finds this latest year at school to be a little more challenging than he had anticipated. Remaining cool, on top of the heap, and interesting is hard enough in a normal school, but in such a small, claustrophobic community, it’s almost impossible.

But he has a plan and a big one too. Sky intends to ask his long-time crush Ali to the prom, and in the most flamboyant way that he can think of. He’s dead set on making a name for himself and securing the boy of his dreams along the way and remains so up until the day that a mysterious hacker leaks his plans, and at first, it seems like everything is lost and that all hopes of romance and success are lost.

Working his way down the winding paths of a story that embraces and celebrates friendship and openness, Sky does his best to track down the culprit responsible for ruining his plans and ensure they aren’t ruined after all. Little does he know, however, that the answer to completing each of the two tasks simultaneously is closer than he guesses.

Fun, light, and packed with emotion and action, The Sky Blues is a refreshing and engaging break from the other, more dense works in this list and is sure to be a hit with any fan of the genre – young or old.

The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch - best gay young adult novel

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Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Boy Meet Boy is a lot of things. It is a story about remaining strong in who you are and who you choose as friends. It’s a chronicle of exploration, discovering a world of hope and romance. And, most of all, it is a love story shared by two boys.  

Paul has been openly gay for as long as he can remember. So open that the entire school and Paul’s entire family know it. Noah, however, could not have led a more different life. As the newest senior at Paul’s high school, little is known and much is assumed. Noah comes from a strictly religious family, and his freedom in expression and activities is severely limited.

While homophobic opponents and other challengers are as ripe and easy to find at their school as ever, when the two meet each other and make the first steps in a bond unlike any other they know of, there can be no denying that Paul and his town are perfect ingredients for the home that Noah has been looking for all along.

This book is something. It takes a place in the mind of its readers and holds it firmly, ensuring that they don’t let it slip away any time soon. Being a gay young adult novel doesn’t leave Boy Meets Boy in the dust when adulthood creeps in. Age merely makes this book seem even more important and formational than it does when viewed from the perspective of a young adult. 

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan - best gay young adult novel

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Sáenz

It’s 1987 in Texas, and a 15-year-old boy named Dante Quintana is ashamed that he cannot swim. Nevertheless, a surprise awaits him by the water – Ari or Aristotle Mendoza, a boy his age who can swim better than Dante has ever seen and who shares his classical name.

After the boys share the summer and become inseparable – culminating in Ari getting hurt while saving Dante’s life from a speeding car – reality returns, and the pair realize that they must separate, even though the incident had brought their families together. 

Dante’s family leaves for Chicago, and Ari returns to his normal life – learning to drive, getting a girlfriend, and occasionally receiving letters from his friend on the other side of the country while trying to understand the plight of his brother Bernando – jailed for unknown reasons. 

When the next summer comes around, and the Quintana family returns to Texas, the pair of boys are reunited, only to find that everything is different. Dante has developed feelings for Ari throughout their separation, and it remains up to the future to tell whether the other boy shares his attraction.

Awarded with a dazzling away of awards, accolades, and positive reviews, Aristotle and Dante’s Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a perfect example of the ‘different’ that many of the best gay young adult novels try to achieve, and packs a real punch with its air of intelligent mystery and deep emotion.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Sáenz - best gay young adult novel

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One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

High school already hadn’t been going well for Alek Khederian, but it was about to get a lot worse. His parents announced that he would attend a summer school while eating out in public, and Alek couldn’t be less impressed.

This reluctance continues to the door of summer school, but not much further. Almost immediately, Alek finds himself sharing undeniable chemistry with one of the other ‘drop-outs’, a boy named Ethan. What starts as a friendship of coincidence evolves into something more, and his time spent with Ethan soon becomes all that Alek can think about.

One Man Guy is a painting of touching dynamics and in-depth examinations of character development, chaining one encounter to the next as Alek finds himself and his connection to others over their first term together and beyond. And not just with Ethan, either. Alek’s family and best friend, Becky, are incredible characters, and their support is heartwarming. 

Written by Armenian-Israeli immigrant and theater director Michael Barakiva, the book – like many others in the genre – represents a mirror of the author’s own experiences as a child and uses that real source of emotion to weave a convincing, honest tale. His culture and young adult life are clear influences in One Man Guy, and this fact is represented proudly through its pages. 

A prime example of young adult queer writing, One Man Guy is no dropout. Passed with full marks.

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva - best gay young adult novel

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All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown

What would a list of top-notch gay young adult novels be without a splash of dramatic post-apocalyptic romance? All That’s Left in the World meets all of our expectations for the cliché and much more, providing a dramatic, high-stakes adventure that brings two unlikely characters closer together than they could have ever come had the world has been in one piece. 

Jamie’s house is his refuge – a last bastion of ‘the world before’ that he has after a deadly virus wiped the earth clean of most humans and everything else that he used to know and love. He is alone, surrounded by danger, but soon everything he was beginning to grow used to is flipped on its head by the arrival of Andrew – a half-starved, stranded young man in need of care.

However, fear and a sensation of creeping danger isn’t the only thing brewing in the boys’ stomachs as they are forced to flee and press on through the wasteland. They both know that they are beginning to feel something more than friendship for one another, but they are both too scared to admit it. It seems some things remain just as frightening after the apocalypse as before.

Written by Philadelphia-based author Erik J. Brown, All That’s Left in the World has received a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and countless records of praise from readers and critics alike. Armageddon? Check. Heart-tugging romance? Check. Happy ending? You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out.

All That's Left in the World by Erik J. Brown - best gay young adult novel

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So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens

A funny, new take on some of the most tired elements of classic fantasy, So This Is Ever After takes subversion of expectations as a law. Readers will be lured in by what they think the story will be, and then soon after, turned on their heels.

It’s the tale we all know gone wrong. Accompanied by a brave band of companions and fellow adventurers, the charming knight Arek slew the evil villain and cleansed the land – albeit mostly through luck rather than skill – and then departed to save the princess so that the kingdom could be held by its rightful ruler once more. 

Except the princess was dead. And, given that he had taken the advice of his best friend Matt to take the crown until they recover her, now the knight is stuck as the king and the target of an age-old curse. Marry and find a partner to sit upon the throne with by age eighteen, or cease to exist.

As it so happens, that date is only three months away, and he is left with the desperate task of finding a partner before he dies and the kingdom plunges back into darkness once more. 

Written and crafted by New York Times Bestselling author F.T. Lukens, So This is Ever After is a worthy and picturesque finish to this list and is sure to leave readers laughing and swooning for the clever, unexpected, and unique story. Worth giving a try!

So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens - best gay young adult novel

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