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The 10 Best LGBT Books for Teens You Should Have Read Already By Now!

The 10 Best LGBT Books for Teens You Should Have Read Already By Now!

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines teenage as “of, being, related or tended for people between 13 and 19 years of age”. Yet, it does not define the confusion and self-discovery characteristic of this age group. But we all know this from experience, don’t we? How can we forget the years of growth spurts, awkward self-awareness, acne and raging hormones? Imagine how much these best LGBT books for teens could have helped had you known about them earlier..

You are not a child anymore, yet you are not an adult. While this gestation period is excruciating for everyone, it is more so for queer teens, especially so if they do not have anyone like them to relate to and look up to.

Thankfully, we have some amazing queer literature to make most teens feel seen, heard and included. These books will speak to you and give you a safe space to explore and understand your identity. And more than that, they will encourage you to celebrate the beautiful person you are.

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However, these books are not just for queer teens. These are for friends, parents, siblings and anyone who wishes to understand what it means to be an LGBT teen. Most of these are written by authors from the LGBT community, giving an authentic account of growing up as a queer teen.

They also tackle issues of class, race, bullying, and more. Teenage messiness in all its glory! There is an abundant queer joy to be found in these pages too. The tender first love, crushes, found family, and love for music will make you smile and cry simultaneously. 

Curl up with some popcorn and a box of tissues and dig in!

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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Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta

Mack is a 15-year-old gay kid living in London. Thanks to his father being a famous movie producer, he largely grew up on sets. It is then no wonder that he is a hopeless romantic.

This is evident in his adoration of Karim, the gorgeous, mysterious boy he has always had a crush on. But lately, it seems like Karim is into him too! How could it be? Mack soon realizes that dating your dream guy is not all roses. Karim is aloof and does not share a lot about himself.

Finlay is on set. Finlay is confident, outgoing and effortlessly emotionally available, everything Karim is not. Mack cannot help being drawn to him even though he knows it is wrong. Can Mack make a clear-headed decision amidst all this chaos? Or will he end up regretting his choices?

Dean Atta writes this novel in verse, employing simple words to make profound points. He touches upon many topics other than queerness. For one, both Mack and Karim are black. We can also see how Mack’s father’s profession gives him certain privileges that his friends and boyfriend do not enjoy.

While the main character does not address the inequity, it is there for the readers. Atta’s masterful, lyrical writing makes Only on the Weekends a perfect mid-week read.

Only on the Weekends - Best LGBT Books for Teens

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The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes

Yamilet Flores is the only Mexican girl at her white and rich Catholic school. This fact ensures that she sticks out like a sore thumb. No one needs to know that she is gay too. It wasn’t fun the last time it happened in her previous school, and she has no reason to believe it will be any different now.

She wants to keep her secret, care for her brother and make her mom proud. There’s just one problem: Bo. Bo is the only other queer girl in the school; she is so cute! She is smart, talented, and just perfect. However, Yami will not be swayed by her charm and beauty. Or will she be?

This sweet sapphic love story will make you feel every emotion out there. It tackles homophobia, racism and suicide. It’s not all dark, though. Many warm and fuzzy moments will put a smile on your face. The representation in the book is great. Yami is a Mexican American, while Bo is Asian American. The characters are well-fleshed out, even the secondary ones.

There’s more to The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School than the romance. It shows us loyal friendships, family dynamics, and, most importantly, the angst of a non-white, queer teen. It is a story of self-discovery, knowing who you are and being comfortable with it. Sonora Reyes has penned a touching coming-of-age novel that will pull at your heartstrings. Keep a box of tissues handy as you read this one!

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School - Best LGBT Books for Teens

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A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy

Emmett dreams of becoming the biggest gay star in country music. He knows it is a far-reach, but he is ready to pay his dues. For now, he can only stay with his aunt in Tennessee and perform at an amusement park owned by his role model and country music legend, Wanda Jean Stubbs. And he is thrilled!

On the other hand, we have Luke Barnes, who hates country music. His grandmother had a falling out with Wanda Jean. Since then, country music has only brought pain to Luke’s family. However, piling bills force Luke to take up a job at the last place he wants to, Wanda World. There he meets Emmett; maybe the job is not so bad after all!

The two boys cannot ignore the sizzling chemistry between them. Emmett and Luke are similar yet different. Both are homosexual, and their lives are saturated with country music, whether they like it or not.

Emmett has come out but struggles with self-confidence, while Luke still comes to terms with his sexuality.  Emmett has ambitious dreams and is ready to work for them, while Luke is too afraid to dream. Will their feelings survive in the face of their struggles?

The point of view alternates between the two main characters, giving us a complete view of the story. The author, Brian D. Kennedy, emphasizes how everyone has a different timeline in life. His poignant writing shows how powerful sharing your identity with the world can be. This novel could be your best friend for anyone struggling to come out or after!

A Little Bit Country - Best LGBT Books for Teens

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

What is better than a book by your favorite author? Two of your favorite authors are writing a book together! John Green and David Levithan write Will Grayson, Will Grayson about two teenage boys with the same name. Both Wills live in the same city but could not be more different. Their lives would never intersect if not for circumstances that bring them to the same porn shop one night.

From then on, their lives become impossible to detangle. Green’s Will is a straight teen with a large, gay best friend. Typical of Green’s main characters, he is nerdy and eloquent.

Levithan’s Will is a homosexual teen who suffers from depression. He is full of angst and sarcastic humor. His usually nihilistic nature turns hopeful when he is about to meet his internet lover, Isaac. As their lives get intertwined, they go on to prepare for an epic high school musical.

The story is about these two boys’ lives, love, heartbreak, fears, and journeys. The combination of the writing styles of the two authors elevates the story. Their writing is very different and complements each other perfectly. The story does not have a lot of surprises or unexpected twists, but it will still keep you hooked!

The alternating points of view are as engaging as they are revelatory to read. The two main characters are not romantically involved with each other, giving a fresh perspective to LGBT representation in novels. This allows the authors to explore other parts of the teens’ lives in depth, such as friendships. 

This short novel is a must-read for fans of the LGBT genre.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - Best LGBT Books for Teens

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The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

We can all agree that there is an urgent need for more trans representation in young adult fiction. The Art of Being Normal does the job. One of the protagonists, David, is an enigma to everyone around him. His parents think he is gay, while some schoolmates think he is a freak. Only he and a couple of his closest friends know he identifies as a girl and wants to be called Kate.

The other protagonist, Leo Denten, is an outsider with secrets of his own. On Leo’s first day at Eden High School, David walks up to him even though the former does not look like he wants to talk to anyone. And when the school bully picks on David, Leo steps in. This only increases David’s obsession with getting to know the moody Leo. What happens next is for you to find out!

This is not a book full of complaints by a trans teen. It is a story that happens to have a trans character. We never feel that David is not normal. He is just trying to explain who he is to a world that does not understand him. This is a beautiful story that needs to be told and heard.

The author, Lisa Williamson, uses a dual POV to narrate the story. She even uses different fonts for each person! Even though the book handles heavy themes like gender, sexuality, poverty, and bullying, it does not feel like a heavy read. If you are even remotely interested in LGBT fiction, this is a must-read for you!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson - Best LGBT Books for Teens

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This is the story of two twins, Noah and Jude, told from alternating points of view. Noah’s narration is from when the twins are 13 and inseparable. Noah is falling in love for the first time with his neighbor, Brian.

He has never had a real connection with anyone who was not his twin. He finds this experience exhilarating. Jude is a feisty, adventurous girl who is their dad’s favorite. Introverted, talented Noah is the apple of his mother’s eye.

Their parents are going through a rough patch and fighting constantly. Jude begins to get jealous of what Noah has- their mother’s affection and a spot at his dream art school. Fast forwarding to Jude’s narration which starts when they are 16, the two siblings barely speak to each other.

Jude is living a life of penance. She wears baggy jeans and sweatshirts and summons the ghost of her dead grandmother. She is attending the school of Noah’s dreams but is wracked with guilt about what she had to do to get there. 

I’ll Give You the Sun is a book with messy characters. You might not like the main characters most of the time. However, as the story progresses, we realize they are imperfect, flawed human beings who made horrible decisions when they were young.

We can understand that, can’t we? Jandy Nelson’s quirky writing and artistic metaphors add color and texture to this sad yet compelling story. This novel dives deep into family dynamics and the undeniable love that siblings share. Curl up in your favorite armchair and enjoy this layered story!

I’ll Give You the Sun - Best LGBT Books for Teens

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Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Juliet Milagros Palante is a Puerto Rican lesbian who has just come out to her mother. She doesn’t know if her mother will ever be okay with a homosexual daughter. Anyway, she is going away to Portland for the summer. She landed an internship with her favorite author, Harlowe Brisbane, who wrote a book on pussy power.

She is the expert on feminism, women’s bodies and all the woke stuff you should know about. Juliet hopes being near Harlowe will help her discover her opinions and identity.

Embarked on a journey to self-discovery, will Juliet find the answers she seeks? Or will she end up with more questions? In Portland, Juliet meets an amazing community of queer women who inspire and intimidate her simultaneously. 

We hear the story in first person from Juliet’s point of view. The stream-of-consciousness narration gives us a peek into the tribulations of a teen figuring out who she is.

She does not know many Puerto Rican homosexual women, so there is no guidebook for who she should be. We follow her as she learns about feminism and new terminology. She explores different viewpoints and picks what she believes in.

It is a very realistic depiction of what a teen growing up in the 21st century would go through. The author, Gabby Rivera, goes out of her way to call out non-inclusive feminism that only-white spaces tend to propagate. There is an emphasis on intersectional feminism throughout the novel. This is a fierce coming-of-age story that will entertain and enlighten you.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera - Best Sapphic Books

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I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

Angel is your regular 18-year-old girl obsessed with the famous boyband, The Arc. She loves them to the point that it annoys those around her. You see, she just cannot shut up about them. She is meeting her online friend Juliet to go to their concert. When several things go wrong, her dream threatens to come true- she might end up meeting Jimmy, one of the boys from the band!

Jimmy is a gay trans teen who struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. The story follows them as they unexpectedly meet, and their lives get tangled. The story is largely character-driven, but the plot is no less engaging. It is sure to draw you in from the very beginning. The author, Alice Oseman, chose to go with an open ending for this book which only works in its favor. 

The representation in this book is nothing short of a rainbow. Angel is a hijabed Muslim who appears to be on the Ace spectrum. Jimmy is bi-racial, as are many of the secondary characters. Most of the characters are not cishet or white in this book. Yet, the character’s sexual orientation and gender do not become plot points.

Oseman’s incredible storytelling highlights the characters’ feelings, emotions and experiences while their identities play out in the background. The book also advocates the importance of mental health among teens. Let’s say that I Was Born for This hits all the right spots for teen fiction! Give it a try!

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman - Best LGBT Books for Teens

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Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

This book is set in 1950s San Francisco when the red scare and bar riots ravaged the city. Our protagonist, 17-year-old Lily Hu, is a Chinese American whose family faces possible deportation. Just when you would think things could not get worse, Lily starts to suspect that she might be homosexual.

She is desperate for lesbian examples and role models. The confusion and isolation she experiences threaten to consume her until she finds refuge in The Telegraph Club. It is a lesbian bar with no shortage of women who love women.

Lily is shocked and thrilled to find people like her, though too often, she is the only Asian American there. When Kathleen Miller walks through the neon sign of the club, Lily’s life changes. Buoyed by tender first love, these two girls set out on a path to self-discovery amidst all the chaos unfurling around them.

Through this historical novel, Malida Lo shines an unyielding light on the political issues of the decade. Her painstaking research is evident in the minute details included in the story. Lo also adds more elaborate notes at the end of the book for all the history nerds out there. 

Lo’s shrewd intersection of race and sexuality creates a compelling story. Coming from a conservative community, Lily has few role models and a scarce vocabulary to identify herself. Her coming-out conversation with her mom reveals a lot about the cultural constraints she battles.

She is also figuring out what it means to be a Chinese American while discovering her sapphic side. Lo’s writing creates vivid imagery that brings the scenes to life. Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a fascinating time capsule from the 50s that is simply impossible to put down!

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo - Best Sapphic Books

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Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

This is one of those rare books that have a gender-fluid protagonist. The main character, Riley Cavanaugh, identifies as a girl on some days and a boy on others. They have not come out to anyone yet; the secret is eating them alive. With a nudge from their therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent their feelings, confusion and most importantly, their identity.

It seems to be going well until a mysterious person learns Riley’s real identity and threatens to expose them. Riley has just made a place for themselves at their new school and does not want to ruin it.

The story is told to us from Riley’s point of view. We hear about the bullying they endure and what being gender fluid means in daily life. The author, Jeff Garvin, focuses on the everyday nitty-gritty of a teen who does not conform to the gender binary. The excruciating details are not easy to read but need to be told. The book is also educational on some level.

We learn a lot of terminology and nuances of being gender fluid that we might not know. Garvin never reveals Riley’s biological gender in the book, making a strong point. We don’t need to know. A person is a gender they identify with. Symptoms of Being Human is the queer book you need to read.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin - Best LGBT Books for Teens

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