LGBT YA Read in 2016
Hello wonderful humans! Today I am sharing 10 YA books I read in 2016 with you and how I felt about them. Let me know what you thought of these books if you have read them, and give me your suggestions for what else I should read.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan: This was truly a refreshing read for me and one of my favorites I read in 2016. I have read a few books where the voices of different gay men throughout history have been utilized to show their different perspectives, relationships and experiences, and this one does it for a YA audience. On top of the voices from different gay men in history, the two main characters Harry and Craig set out to take part in a 32-hour kissing marathon. I loved reading about their thoughts before and during the event, as well as how the event made an impact on everyone watching. There is one story-line with a trans man that is worth noting, which I enjoyed as well. Based on a true story, this book is heartwarming in all the right ways.
Far From You by Tess Sharpe: This really ended up being a hidden gem for me this year. While it was a slow read at first, I was really engrossed by the main character Sophie’s many layers. Throughout the novel, she deals with drug addiction, a permanent physical disability, grief in the loss of her best friend and lover, complicated relationships with her friends and family, and the realities of being bisexual—all wrapped up in a mystery.
Adaptation and Inheritance by Malinda Lo: I picked up this duology because I had previously read Ash by the same author, and because I appreciate the work that Malinda Lo does in general. This series starts off with the main character Reese and her crush David coming back from a debate event when birds start hurling into airplanes, causing them to drive home. They end up getting into a car crash where they wake up in a military hospital with little information about what happened.
Crazy things ensue, and there is also a love triangle thrown in with Reese and a girl named Amber. But don’t worry! This love triangle is the least annoying love triangle I have read, and polyamory is explored more in the second book. These books hit a lot of themes that I really enjoy, and I always love books with strong bisexual women. The second book is less action-packed, exploring more extensively into the science-fiction thought experiment of alien and human interaction, but I really enjoyed that as well. This is the series I wish I had as a teenager.
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera: I have mixed feelings about this book. I think Adam Silvera has a wonderful voice and I liked the first part of the book a lot. I generally liked the characters and the setting, but I ultimately don’t think this plot was for me. I read this book right after the horrible shooting at Pulse in Orlando, and I know that if I read this book when I was younger I would have been discouraged as well. I am sure some people will find this book really helpful, but it was not for me.
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley: This was a very enjoyable read for me. Solomon is a gay agoraphobic teenager who is befriended by Lisa, a girl who is looking to help someone in order for her to write a college essay to get her into a good psychology program. I thought that this book really humanized agoraphobia and anxiety, and the characters were interesting and complex on top of that. This was one of the top books I read in 2016.
Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan: The main character Leila is an Iranian-American student at a private high school who develops a crush on the new girl, Saskia, but is afraid to come out to her conservative family. Leila is a great character—she is sarcastic and funny and she deals with the intersections of race and class and religion in her life in a very relatable way. Throughout the novel a lot of her expectations about the people around her surprise her, and overall, this is an enjoyable, intelligent and much needed read for so many people.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills: This was one of my favorite YA books I read in 2016. I am always skeptical of stories about trans people written by non-trans people, so I went in with a critical eye. But I think overall, this was a pleasant and interesting read, and one that has a trans man as the main character which doesn’t happen often. The story is about Gabe, a High School senior who loves music and starts a community radio show called “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.” He is friends with some interesting characters, and he garners a fanbase really early on in his show because of his personal connection to his music. I ended up really liking the premise and the execution.
Ask the Passengers by A. S. King: This was another book I picked up because so many people seemed to love it, even though I was trying to read outside of the coming-out story genre. I love the idea of the book—that the main character Astrid confides in the passengers in the planes flying above her because she can’t confide in anyone in her life. I can personally relate to that feeling of watching the sky, wanting to confide in someone. Again, I enjoyed the side characters, and although bizarre, I liked the tension in her familial relationships.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: Recently I have been trying to read outside of the coming-out story genre, but I picked this up because so many people seem to love it. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, but I ended up enjoying reading it reasonably well. I am not sure how I feel about every aspect of this book, but in general it was enjoyable, although not entirely memorable for me personally. I remember that I really liked the side characters and that overall, the story kept me guessing, so it was worth a read in the end.
Bonus: George by Alex Gino: This is not a YA novel, but I think that if you regularly read LGBT+ YA, you might be interested in this book. This is a middle grade novel about a young trans girl who is dealing with coming out, centered around her wanting to play the character Charlotte in her school play of Charlotte’s Web. I love that the main character is referred to with she/her/hers pronouns throughout the book, which is wonderfully gender-affirming for any young trans girl reading this novel, and educational for anyone else. This would make a great gift for any young reader in your life.