QUILTBAG seems to be the new acronym and I like it because it's easy to remember and has the "A." YA-Appropriate is defined as "appealing to teenagers" - this does not preclude sexual content, violence, or language. This list only includes books I've read (and some I've bought and intend to read soon). I may expand it in the future as I read more. I was inspired to write this list by the "Say Yes to Gay YA" discussion.
This list is not intended to be political. It is, like everything else on this blog, intended to help people find books they want to read.
The list will be updated with links to my reviews and some cover pics when I have time.
Forster, E. M. Maurice. Happy ending! Happy ending!
Wolff, Virginia. Orlando. If you're unwilling to brave modernist writing, the film version with Tilda Swinton is decent.
Atkins, Catherine. Alt Ed. This terrific novel flew under the radar. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home. This graphic memoir is the book I would promote if I had Oprah's influence. It's also a great jumping off point for other queer lit.
Burd, Nick. The Vast Fields of Ordinary. Some people don't like the ending to this slice-of-lifer, but poo-poo to them. Review of The Vast Fields of Ordinary.
Cameron, Peter. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You. A psychological study of James, who is conflicted about whether he wants to go to college. The fact that he is gay is unimportant to the novel.
Diaz, Alexandra. Of All the Stupid Things. I wasn't super fond of this one. Not terrible, but I wouldn't expend a ton of effort seeking it out. Review of Of All the Stupid Things.
Flinn, Alex. Fade to Black. Not my favorite by Flinn, but it's hard to beat my favorites by her. This book tackles the knotty subject of AIDS.
Garden, Nancy. Annie on My Mind. One of the lesbian books, but it left me underwhelmed. She also wrote The Year They Burned the Books.
George, Madeleine. The Difference Between You and Me. Novel about a girl struggling with her relationship with a closeted girl as well as other high school problems.
Green, Bette. The Drowning of Stephen Jones. Green is one of my sister's favorite authors, so I'm supposed to dislike this one on principle.
Green, John and David Levithan. Will Grayson, Will Grayson. This is the book that gave the world Tiny Cooper, who is possibly the largest person who is also very gay. Excellent character-based story. (Acknowledges that asexuality exists.)
Hartinger, Brent. Geography Club. This book and its sequels are classics. There are gay, bi, and lesbian characters, so almost everyone gets covered.
Hubbard, Jennifer. The Secret Year. The main focus is a heterosexual relationship, but a secondary character comes out to varied reactions. Gay character has a boyfriend.
Johnson, Maureen. The Bermudez Triangle. I like many of Johnson's other books better, but don't ignore this story by one of the Queens of YA.
Kephart, Beth. You Are My Only. Main character is neighbors with a lesbian couple. Kephart is a treasure.
Kerr, M. E. Like the later entry on David Levithan: too many titles to list. Kerr's books may be old by the standards of this list, but they'll feel fresh. I guarantee it. Her most famous is Deliver Us From Evie.
Kluger, Steve. Almost Like Being in Love. My Most Excellent Year. Both bought due to strong recommendations.
Lecesne, James. Absolute Brightness. I liked this one, but I know people who didn't. It reminded me of What Happened to Lani Garver?, which is listed far below. Review of Absolute Brightness.
Levithan, David. Do I really need to list out titles? Gimme a break, guys.
Medina, Nico. The Straight Road to Kylie. This one is just cute. A few contrived plot points, but still cute.
Oates, Joyce Carol. Sexy. Not my favorite of Oates' YA titles, but appropriate for the list. Given the title it's not surprising that Sexy involves sexuality. Also, sexual harassment.
Peters, Julie Ann. Rage. Peters has written a number of QUILTBAG novels. Rage isn't the best, but at the moment it's the only one I can guarantee I've read. Review of Rage.
Ryan, Sara. Empress of the World. It's been a long time since I read this one, but it's one of the most recommended lesbian novels.
Sanchez, Alex. Rainbow Boys. Sequels Rainbow High and Rainbow Road. Sanchez has written other stuff since that's gotten good reviews, but I haven't read them yet. The Rainbow High books were too trite for me.
Scott, Elizabeth. Miracle. An older lesbian is a prominent character in the story. People's reactions to her sexuality are discussed.
Seth, Vikram. The Golden Gate. A Suitable Boy. Let's get some literature up in here, eh? Very different books, but both are good.
Trueman, Terry. 7 Days at the Hot Corner. I haven't read this one, but I have enjoyed several other books by Trueman. This one is about a jock struggling with his best friend's coming out.
Walker, Kate. Peter. I own this one but haven't read it yet. I've heard indifferent things.
Walker, Melissa. Small Town Sinners. This one is borderline: there's a supporting character who may or may not be struggling with his sexuality. It's well-handled, so I'm listing it. Review of Small Town Sinners.
Wittlinger, Ellen. Hard Love. Sequel Love & Lies. Wittlinger is a badass, ya'll. Badass. Check out Parrotfish too.
Wolff, Virginia Euwer. True Believer. Wolff is an incredible author. Please read this one, please.
Atwater-Rhodes, Amelia. Wolfcry. This is the fourth in a series (The Kiesha'ra) and unfortunately not the strongest. Worth reading to complete the series, but not a great standalone.
Battis, Jes. Night Child. The OSI series (urban fantasy-meets-CSI) contains major bi and gay characters. I find them fun. Review of Inhuman Resources.
Bennett, Danielle and Jaida Jones. Havemercy. I wanted to love this series. Metal dragons? Too awesome. But the first one had too many gender issues for me to really get into it.
Black, Holly. Tithe. Sequels Valiant and Ironside. This is a terrific series. The gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters are handled beautifully and all contribute to the plot.
Ed. Black, Holly and Justine Larbalestier. Zombies vs. Unicorns. Several of the stories in this collection feature gay or lesbian characters. My favorite is Alaya Dawn Johnson's "Love Will Tear Us Apart."
Block, Francesca Lia. Dangerous Angels. Most everything Francesca Lia Block has written contains at least one QUILTBAG character. I love her dizzy, lyrical writing but her prose isn't for everyone.
Bray, Libba. A Great and Terrible Beauty. Sequels Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing. I like her crazy contemporaries better than these Victorian fantasies, which have weird racial politics among other problems. But again, a ton of people love them, so go for it.
Brennan, Herbie. Faerie Wars. In this fantasy series, the protagonist's mother recently left her husband for her female lover. Hilarious books.
Brennan, Sarah Rees. The Demon's Lexicon. Sequels The Demon's Covenant and The Demon's Surrender. Fast-paced, funny, and full of sexual tension between almost every character. Brennan made the transition from fandom to traditional publishing brilliantly. Review of The Demon's Lexicon.
Brennan, Sarah Rees and Justine Larbalestier. Team Human. The
story centers around several heterosexual couples, but there are
secondary bi and lesbian characters. There's also an offhand mention of
a famous gay couple.
Briggs, Patricia. Moon Called. There's a supporting gay character and much discussion of how that works in a heteronormative wolf pack in this popular urban fantasy series. (Her traditional fantasy is better.) Review of Bone Crossed.
Cabot, Meg. Abandon. Sequel Underworld. One of the secondary characters is a gay man. His partner even appears on page in the sequel. Not my favorite series, but lots of people love it.
Carriger, Gail. Soulless. There is a lesbian character in later books of the Parasol Protectorate series and gay characters in all of them. This steampunk series doesn't quite do it for me, but it's somewhat witty and fun enough.
Carey, Jacqueline. Kushiel's Dart. This trilogy and it's sequel trilogies are some of the best-selling and most entertaining fantasy in recent years. Too purple for some people, but I think it works wonderfully with the setting and characterization. Don't miss out. Review of Naamah's Kiss. Review of Naamah's Curse.
Carey, Jacqueline. Santa Olivia. Badass in book form. Read it.
Cashore, Kristin. Graceling. Companion Fire and sequel Bitterblue. Acclaimed fantasy series contains QUILTBAG characters. Fire the most notable for QUILTBAG content. Review of Graceling and Fire.
Clare, Cassandra. City of Bones. The Mortal Instruments series (there's more than three now, I'm not listing them all) isn't my favorite. (I liked Clockwork Angel quite a bit, however. And the spinoff series is also QUILTBAG friendly.) But many people love this urban fantasy series, so go for it. Review of City of Ashes.
Chabon, Michael. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It won the Pulitzer, people. You need another reason to read it?
Coville, Bruce. The Skull of Truth. Coville was one of my favorite authors when I was young, so I'm including this book even though it's MG. The protagonist's uncle comes out in the course of the story. Well-done.
Cremer, Andrea. Nightshade. Sequels Wolfsbane and Bloodrose. The secondary characters include a happy gay couple. Review of Nightshade. Review of Wolfsbane. Review of Bloodrose.
Crow, Kirby. Scarlet and the White Wolf. Sequels Mariner's Luck and The Land of Night. The romance is slow and believable and the world-building is superb. Be warned that the author's Angels of the Deep is not YA-friendly.
Duane, Diane. So You Want to be a Wizard. The excellent Young Wizards series has Tom Swale and Carl Romeo, gay couple and mentors extraordinare.
Duncan, Hal. Vellum. Sequel Ink. I bought Vellum due to Deimyts's recommendation several years ago. I've never read it because I've heard such good things that I'm terribly afraid of being disappointed. I can't live with the disappointment if this isn't the best gay ghostly experimental fantasy whatever I've ever read. (Note: it has to be, because I've never read a book that fits that description.)
Flewelling, Lynn. Luck in the Shadows. The Nightrunner series and its prequel, the Tamir trilogy, contain major gay and transgendered characters. The earlier books are better, but all of them are worth a read.
Goodman, Alison. Eon. Sequel Eona. I liked this fantasy novel, with it's nicely realized China-esque setting, until the ending. (Bit of handicap!fail.) Plus, the main character annoyed me sometimes. I'd still read it, but I recommend it with caution. Review of Eon.
Grossman, Austin. Soon I Will Be Invincible. I liked this one less than I thought I would, given the whole superhero thing. Still worth a read.
Grossman, Lev. The Magicians. Sequel The Magician King. I just bought this one during the Border's closing, and I'm trusting an unvetted source that there's QUILTBAG content.
Hartinger, Brent. Shadow Walkers. Own, but haven't read yet. I like his contemporary novels.
Harrison, Kim. Dead Witch Walking. This is one of the best urban fantasy series around. One of the major characters is a lesbian with her own romantic entanglements separate from the protagonist.
Hawkins, Rachel. Hex Hall. Sequel Demonglass. The lesbian character may only be supporting, but she gets her own romance. This boarding school series is pretty fun. Review of Hex Hall.
Healey, Karen. Guardians of the Dead. Just ordered. Contains an asexual character.
Hines, Jim C. The Stepsister Scheme. Hines's Princess Series is a ton of fun and not just for fairytale lovers like myself. The major lesbian character is a bonus. Review of The Stepsister Scheme.
Hobb, Robin. Assassin's Apprentice. I love this series, and its sequels. There is one very complicated relationship between two of the male characters.
Kushner, Ellen. Swordspoint. Sequel The Privilege of the Sword. There's also a prequel, with Delia Sherman, titled The Fall of Kings, but I've heard it's not as good. Basically, there's a reason mannerpunk never became a huge genre. It's because there is no way to follow Kushner. No. Way.
Lo, Melinda. Ash. A lesbian re-telling of Cinderella.
Marr, Melissa. Wicked Lovely. This five-book urban fantasy series contains bisexual characters. The books vary widely in quality, but overall I enjoyed reading them. Review of Fragile Eternity. Review of Radiant Shadows.
Martin, George R. R. A Game of Thrones. Considering I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire in high school, it counts as YA-Appropriate. Now, you can even cheat by watching the HBO series!
McGuire, Seanan. Rosemary and Rue. The October Daye novels contain gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters. Not a major aspect of the series. Reviews of A Local Habitation and An Artificial Night.
McLaughlin, Lauren. Cycler. Sequel Re-Cycler. This duology, in which Jill turns into Jack part of the time, is hard to classify. I was highly disappointed by Cycler, but then Re-Cycler hit all of my buttons. Review of Cycler. Review of Re-Cycler.
Moore, Christopher. Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story. Sequels You Suck and Bite Me. Moore is ridiculously funny. There's a supporting character who is gay in this trilogy and Moore has quite a bit of fun being as ridiculous as possible. (The books are set in San Francisco. It would be strange if there were no QUILTBAG characters.)
Moore, Perry. Hero. Unfortunately we'll never see the sequel to this superhero story due to Moore's death. It was a wonderful YA debut and I'm not just saying that because I like superheroes.
Morgan, Richard. The Steel Remains. Sequel The Cold Commands. This high-fantasy novel has both a gay main character and a lesbian main character. Refreshing! Even better, it's an excellent story well told. Probably too explicit for younger teens.
Pierce, Tamora. Bloodhound. Sequel to Terrier. The Beka Cooper series of fantasy crime procedurals are a prequel to her Tortall works. Bloodhound, second in the trilogy, contains a transgendered character.
Pierce, Tamora. The Will of the Empress. This sequel to The Magic Circle and The Circle Opens series reveals one of the main characters as gay. She has characters in all her books that are Word of Gay. Pierce is one of my favorite authors, so I highly recommend her even though the QUILTBAG content is low. Review of Melting Stones.
Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Tantalize. Sequels Eternal, Blessed, and Diabolical. I don't believe Tantalize contains any QUILTBAG characters, but all of the sequels do. Smith is an outspoken advocate of diversity in literature.
Smith, Sherwood. Inda. This four book epic fantasy series is boatloads of fun, if you like political maneuvering the way I do.
Snicket, Lemony. The Miserable Mill. I'm allowing A Series of Unfortunate Events on here even though it's middle grade because I love it so. There's a subtly gay couple that first appear in the fourth book.
Spotswood, Jessica. Born Wicked. There's a small bit of lesbian content in this Victorian-era alternate history about a trio of witch sisters. There may be more QUILTBAG content in the sequels; no way to tell yet. Review of Born Wicked.
Thorne, Hayden. Rise of Heroes. Sequels Evolution and Ordinary Heroes. The Masks series is perfect for the YA fan who also loves superheroes. The relationship takes a backseat in the second two books to the protagonist's maturation.
Thurman, Rob. Nightlife. The Cal Leandros series and its companion Trickster series contain gay and pansexual characters. Thurman is one of my favorite authors, so I'll stay away from trying to be impartial. Review of Deathwish. Review of Blackout.
Various authors. Runaways. This Marvel title is about the children of supervillains who become a group of superheroes. The quality varies depending on writer and artist, but I regularly enjoy it. Contains a lesbian character as well as a character who can change gender at will.
Vaughn, Carrie. Discord's Apple. I liked this modern take on old stories. This standalone is perfect for reading after you've read The Odyssey or The Aenied for school. Review of Discord's Apple.
Waters, Daniel. Generation Dead. Sequels Kiss of Life and Passing Strange. In this zombie series, one of the main characters is a lesbian and the zombies are pretty darn metaphorical. I like it, but I know several people who aren't big on it. Review of Kiss of Life.
King, Stephen. Cell. I enjoyed this one even though King's latter-day works rarely approach his earlier stuff. (Cell phones turning people into zombies? So obvious.) There's one small line revealing that a character is gay . . . but I'm still going to count it.
King, Stephen. IT. One of the scariest novels ever. You can't call Adrian Mellon a main or supporting character, but I'm not gonna count out a book that shows hate crimes in a terrible light.
Jaffe, Michele. Rosebush. Jane must unravel the mystery of who tried to kill her as she recovers in the hospital from a near-fatal car accident. No main LGBTQ elements, but there is thoughtful exploration of bicuriousity.
Lanyon, Josh. Fatal Shadows. Lanyon's written many books, but I've only read the Adrien English mysteries. They're wonderful and they're set in a bookstore. Too cool, right?
Mitchell, Saundra. Shadowed Summer. Pretend you don't know the book belongs on this list when you read it, m'kay? Review of Shadowed Summer.
Ucci-Plum, Carol. What Happened to Lani Garver? So it's an unsolved mystery. This book is sheer brilliance. A favorite.
Waters, Sarah. Fingersmith. Not quite a mystery, but I think it fits best here. Plus this section was getting lonely. I am so glad Lenore handed me this super-twisty book.
Banks, Iain M. Consider Phlebas. The Culture is one of my dad's favorite series, which is how I ended up reading it. Members of The Culture can change their sex and sexual orientation.
Le Guin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness. I've heard some people call this one dated. Don't let that put you off of a Le Guin. She's amazing.