So what is the QUILTBAG List? It is a selection of books that will appeal to teenagers and are QUILTBAG friendly. (Think LGBTQ with a bit more inclusion.) I make no promises as to the amount of sexual content, violence, or language, although I try not to list particularly mature books. The QUILTBAG list contains only books I've read (and a very few I've bought and intend to read soon). If your book isn't on the list, that qualifier is probably the reason why.
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 is updated frequently and irregularly.
Forster, E. M. Maurice. Happy ending! Happy ending! (Rare back then.)
Isherwood, Christopher. A Single Man. I haven't read the book, but I have covered and enjoyed the movie.
Wilde, Oscar. The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Best of all, this work will introduce you to one of the English language's greatest comic writers.
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.
Barakiva, Michael. One Man Guy. An Armenian teen falls for a fellow student during summer school. There's a nice focus on family in addition to the romance. Review of One Man Guy.
Belleza, Rhoda, ed. Cornered: 14 Stories of Bullying and Defiance. Not all of the stories in this anthology are contemporary, but the majority are. One story has a lesbian protagonist, one involves a young trans woman, and many explore how homophobic language is used to bully. Review of Cornered.
Benincasa, Sara. Great. I am not a fan of this lesbian retelling of The Great Gatsby. Review of Great.
Bick, Ilsa J. The Sin-Eater's Confession. In Afghanistan, Ben writes a letter confessing the events that led him there. They revolve around Jimmy, a talented, young gay kid and the relationship that actually existed between the two as well as the relationship their small town believed existed. Review of The Sin-Eater's Confession.
Bigelow, Lisa Jenn. Starting from Here. Colby's still working through her mother's death two years ago and now her girlfriend has broken up with her and is dating a guy. How can she get her life under control? Review of Starting from Here.
Brugman, Alyssa. Alex as Well. Intersex teen Alex begins identifying as a girl despite being raised about a boy. An entertaining book the focuses more one what happens after she makes her decision. Review of Alex as Well.
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. 2010 Lambda Award finalist in Childrens/Young Adult
Calin, Marisa. Between You & Me. This terrific story of first love is told in a mix of direct address and screenplay. There is a girl-on-girl crush and the gender of the love interest is ambiguous. Review of Between You & Me.
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.
Clark, Kristin Elizabeth. Freakboy. This novel in verse details the intersecting relationships of Brendan, Angel, and Vanessa. Angel is trans, Brendan is figuring it out, and Vanessa just wants her relationship to return to how it was. Review of Freakboy.
Cohn, Rachel and David Levithan. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List. These two have collaborated on a series of unrelated but excellent novels. (Note: Ely is the only gay main character.) 2006 Cybils Winner in YA
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.
Demas, Corinne. Returning to Shore. A teenage girl goes to live with her father after her mother's new marriage and learns that his sexuality was a factor in their divorce. Review of Returning to Shore.
Farizan, Sara. If You Could Be Mine. Iranian lesbian Sahar could be killed for her orientation. She considers getting a sex change in order to legally be with her girlfriend Nasrin. Review of If You Could Be Mine.
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.
Forman, Gayle. Just One Day. The cast of this bildungsroman/romance is wonderful and includes multiple queer characters. Review of Just One Day.
Franklin, Emily and Brendan Halpin. Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom. A ripped-from-the-headlines tale of a girl and her best friend, who asks her to prom only to discover that she's gay, which leads to controversy over whether a girl can attend prom with a girl. Cute and sweet, although Tessa's romance is a little lacking.
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. Garden won the 2003 Edwards Award.
George, Madeleine. The Difference Between You and Me. Novel about a girl struggling with her relationship with a closeted girl as well as trying to prevent a big box store from moving into the community. Very swoony kiss scenes. Review of The Difference Between You and Me.
Gray, Keith, ed. Losing It. This anthology contains several genres, but it's Patrick Ness's contemporary "Different for Boys" that deals with a gay relationship. Quite funny with great teen voices. Review of Losing It.
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.) 2011 Odyssey Honor (audiobook)
Harrington, Hannah. Speechless. When Chelsea outs a gay classmate and he gets beat up, she goes to the police and then takes a vow of silence. The gay characters are minor (although they do express their feelings on the book's events), but the book firmly shows that being gay is okay and everyone should speak up when they see bullying.
Hartinger, Brent. Geography Club. Sequels The Order of the Poison Oak, Split Screen/Double Feature, and The Elephant of Surprise. This book and its sequels are classics. There are gay, bi, and lesbian characters, so almost everyone gets covered. Movie coming soon. Review of The Elephant of Surprise.
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.
Jones, Carrie. Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend. Obviously, the main character is straight, but it is a very funny book. 2007 Cybils Award finalist in Young Adult
Kamata, Suzanne. Screaming Divas. This short novel about a band made up of four angry girls is an appealing gritty soap opera. Review of Screaming Divas.
Kenneally, Miranda. Stealing Parker. Parker, a talented softball player, deals with school, her mom's coming out, her own romantic relationships, and that her best friend might be gay.
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. Kerr won the 1993 Edwards Award.
King, A.S. Ask the Passengers. Teen girl with a girlfriend still isn't sure of her sexuality, but she's figuring it out. Review of Ask the Passengers.
Kluger, Steve. Almost Like Being in Love. My Most Excellent Year. Both bought due to strong recommendations.
Kokie, E. M. Personal Effects. Matt Foster's brother died in Iraq and Matt finds out things he never knew about him after sorting through his personal effects. Strong debut. Review of Personal Effects.
Konigsberg, Bill. Openly Straight. Activist Rafe moves and keeps his sexuality a secret because he's tired of being "the gay kid." Review of Openly Straight.
Kupperberg, Paul. Kevin. This novel is about Kevin Keller, the first out gay character in Archie Comics, in middle school. It skews young, but there's a nice anti-bullying message accompanying Kevin's self discovery. Review of Kevin.
LaCour, Nina. Everything Leads To You. Emi Price, production assistant, finds the secret daughter of a Hollywood star and falls in love. Perfect beach or travel read. Review of Everything Leads to You.
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. 2009 Morris Award finalist
Levithan, David. Do I really need to list out titles? Gimme a break, guys. Every Day and Boy Meets Boy are two of his best. Review of Every Day.
Lillis, J.C. How to Repair a Mechanical Heart. Two fanboys travel across the US on a road trip and fall in love, but Brandon still has to deal with his Catholic guilt. This romantic comedy is self-published but well edited, although sometimes it's hard to tell who is speaking. Great for geeks.
Lockhart, E. Dramarama. This story about teens at theater camp is fun, fabulous, and full of drama.
Medina, Nico. The Straight Road to Kylie. This one is just cute. A few contrived plot points, but still cute.
Monroe, Ella. Truth or Dare. Sequel to Capital Girls and Secrets and Lies. This Gossip-Girl-meets-politics series introduces a lesbian storyline in the third book. Review of Truth or Dare.
Moynihan, Lindsay. The Waiting Tree. Simon's life becomes extra complicated when he and his boyfriend are accidentally outed in their conservative town. Review of The Waiting Tree.
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.
Parent, Dan. Kevin Keller: Welcome to Riverdale. This trade from Archie Comics collects Kevin Keller #1-4, including his first date and prom. Has the usual Archie sweet, kids-next-door sensibility.
Peck, Dale. Sprout. Green-haired Sprout practices for a writing competition, falls in love, and raises himself given his father's alcoholism.
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. (Lie - I've also read Far from Xandadu and Keeping You a Secret.) Review of Rage.
Polonsky, Ami. Gracefully Grayson. There's not much to this novel aside from Grayson's struggle with gender, but it is a sweet novel and one of the few aimed at a middle-grade audience. Review of Gracefully Grayson.
Quick, Matthew. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. This utterly brilliant book includes a gay adult who is influential in Leonard's life. (Please note that I am not referring to same-sex sexual abuse as LGBTQ content.) Review of Forgive Me Leonard Peacock.
Rosoff, Meg. What I Was. H is fascinated by Finn, the boy who lives alone in a cabin. I would like to wrap myself in Rosoff's prose. A story to knock your socks off.
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. Review of Miracle.
Seth, Vikram. The Golden Gate. A Suitable Boy. Let's get some literature up in here, eh? Very different books, but both are good.
Strohm, Stephanie Kate. Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink. Sequel Confederates Don't Wear Couture. Excellent contemporaries about a girl who loves history. Her best friend Dev is gay and more prominent in the sequel, including his own romance. Review of Confederates Don't Wear Couture.
Telgemeier, Raina. Drama. This graphic novel about the production of a middle school musical lives up to its title. Multiple gay characters. 2013 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens
Tregay, Sarah. Fan Art. Illustrated by Melissa DeJesus. This novel is about two best friends who unknowingly have crushes on each other and whose lives are complicated by friends who think they should date. Slight but cute. Review of Fan Art.
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.
Verdi, Jessica. The Summer I Wasn't Me. This short novel is about a girl sent to a conversion camp. It is well done, but some of the abuse that occurs feels like it was added for shock value. Review of The Summer I Wasn't Me.
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. The first is about a straight boy head-over-heels for a lesbian; the sequel is just about her. 2000 Printz Honor; 2009 Lambda Awards finalist in Childrens/Young Adult
Wittlinger, Ellen. Parrotfish. One of the few young adult novels about a trans* character.
Wolff, Virginia Euwer. True Believer. Wolff is an incredible author. Please read this one, please.
York, Kelley. Made of Stars. Hunter and Ashlin take a gap year and move in with their father, where they reunite with Chance, a childhood friend they both love. Cross between a romance and an issue novel. Review of Made of Stars.
Arntson, Steven. The Wrap-Up List. Gabriela Riviera wants a first kiss for herself and her three best friends before she dies in seven days, but not all of her friends are straight. Review of The Wrap-Up List.
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.
Bear, Elizabeth. Blood and Iron. It's been an age since I read this one, but I enjoyed it, and Malinda Lo's tumblr informed me it contains queer characters.
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. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Girl goes on road trip with two boys: a vampire and her infected ex. Her ex is bisexual and has on-page encounters with boys and girls. There is also a minor trans character. Review of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
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. 2003 Teens' Top Ten
Black, Holly and Justine Larbalestier, ed. 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."
Blake, Kendare. Antigoddess. The gods are dying, and starting a war in the process. The gods seem to be mostly bi, but leaning to preferring certain genders. Major character Hermes prefers guys. Review of Antigoddess.
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. Block won the 2005 Edwards Award.
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. 2004 Teens' Top Ten; 2006 Teens' Top Ten; 2008 Teens' Top Ten
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. 2009 Cybils Award finalist in YA Fantasy & Science Fiction
Brennan, Sarah Rees. Unspoken. Sequel Untold. The lesbian part of the story is very, very small but there is slightly more in the second book and one character is potentially bi. Fun modern Gothic
with a bunch of great female characters. Review of Unspoken.
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. Review of Team Human.
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.
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. The sequel is Saints Astray. Review of Santa Olivia.
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. 2009 Morris Award finalist; 2009 Teens' Top Ten; 2008 Cybils Award finalist in YA Fantasy & Science Fiction; 2009 Cybils Award in YA Fantasy & Science Fiction; 2010 Teens' Top Ten; 2013 Readers' Choice list
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?
Cornwell, Betsy. Tides. This book includes a lovely lesbian love story involving an older generation in addition to the selkie shenanigans of the younger cast. Review of Tides.
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. Prequels Rift and Rise. The secondary characters include a happy gay couple. Review of Nightshade. Review of Wolfsbane. Review of Bloodrose. Review of Rift. 2011 Teens' Top Ten
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 prequels, the Tamir trilogy, contain major gay and transgendered characters. The earlier books are better, but all of them are worth a read.
Franklin, Alis. Liesmith. This novel about gods and tech geeks is aimed at adults, but the twentysomething protagonist will still appeal to teens, especially those who are fans of Marvel's Thor. Review of Liesmith.
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.
Grant, Gavin J. and Kelly Link, ed. Monstrous Affections. This entertaining anthology contains a diverse set of protagonists. The standout story, "Wings in the Morning" by Sarah Rees Brennan, focuses on a boy falling for his best friend (and getting used to having wings).
Green, Sally. Half Bad. Young witch Nathan is half White Witch, half Black Witch, which causes much trouble. A friend and potential love interest is male. Review of Half Bad.
Griffo, Michael. Unnatural. Sequels Unwelcome and Unafraid. The Archangel Academy series is your typical boarding-school-with-a-secret story with a gay twist. Fun, but there are some odd formatting choices.
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. 2010 Alex Award
Hartinger, Brent. Shadow Walkers. Short novel about a boy searching for his brother using astral projection. He meets a fellow astral projector and falls in love.
Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina. There is a gay couple, and in the very religious world of the novel they keep their relationship quiet. Review of Seraphina. 2013 Morris Award winner; 2013 Readers' Choice list; 2012 Cybil for YA Fantasy & Science Fiction
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. 2011 Morris Award finalist; 2010 Cybils Award finalist in YA Fantasy & Science Fiction
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 characters, one with an undefined gender. Set later in the same world, the Rain Wilds Chronicles contains major gay characters. Review of Blood of Dragons.
Jacobs, John Horner. The Twelve-Fingered Boy. Sequel The Shibboleth. This X-men-esque series involves two boys with powers - one physical, one mental. The narrator is basically pansexual. Review of The Twelve-Fingered Boy. Review of The Shibboleth.
Johnson, Christine. Grim. This fairytale anthology features some LGBTQ stories and is a good read all around. Review of Grim.
Kahler, A.R. Martyr. A chase across a post-apocalyptic world drives this story, which has a pretty central tragic romance. New Adult rather than Young Adult focus. Review of Martyr.
Kemmerer, Brigid. Storm. Sequels Spark, Spirit, and Secret. Kemmerer's series is about four brothers, one of whom is gay. Nick is featured in "Breathless" (short story in Spirit) and Secret (title not final, 2014). Review of Spirit. Review of Secret.
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.
Lam, Laura. Pantomime. Sequel Shadowplay. Marcus Grey, an intersexed teenager, runs away and joins R.H. Ragona's Circus of Magic. Review of Pantomime. Review of Shadowplay. 2013 Cybils finalist in YA Speculative Fiction
Levithan, David. Every Day. A wakes up in a different body every day. 2012 Cybils finalist in YA Fantasy & Science Fiction
Lo, Melinda. Ash. A lesbian re-telling of Cinderella. 2010 Morris Award finalist; 2010 Lambda Award finalist in Childrens/Young Adult
Lynn, H.L. God's Play. Monster hunter falls for monster. Suffers from some debut novel problems, but is a fun enough story. Review of God's Play.
Marr, Melissa. Wicked Lovely. This five-book urban fantasy series contains bisexual characters and polyamorous relationships. 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.
Mitchell, Saundra. The Elementals. Companion to The Vespertine and The Springsweet. This quiet fantasy novel has a bisexual, genderqueer main character (although not in so many words since it's set in the past). Review of The Elementals.
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. Sequel The Dark Defiles. 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. Suitable for older teens who enjoy GRRM and similar. Review of The Dark Defiles.
Ness, Patrick. More Than This. This is the story of a boy who dies and wakes up in his childhood home. He slowly remembers his family and boyfriend, while exploring a world that combines fantasy and science fiction and may not be real. Review of More Than This.
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 won the 2013 Edwards Award. 2006 Cybils Award finalist in YA Fantasy & Science Fiction.
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. As of Battle Magic, other characters are confirmed as gay or bisexual and there is a bisexual character POV. Pierce is one of my favorite authors, so I highly recommend her even though the QUILTBAG content is low. Review of Melting Stones. Review of Battle Magic.
Samms, Olivia. Sketchy. There's a gay secondary character who is useful to the plot as well as a friend to the protagonist, Bea. The focus is on the mystery rather than any romance. Review of Sketchy.
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. Review of Eternal. Review of Diabolical.
Smith, Sherwood. Inda. This four book epic fantasy series is boatloads of fun, if you like political maneuvering the way I do.
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.
Stiefvater, Maggie. The Raven Boys. Sequel The Dream Thieves. Four boys and a girl hunt a dead Welsh king in Virginia. Review of The Raven Boys. Review of The Dream Thieves.
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.
Tracey, Scott. Moonset. Sequel Darkbound. In the witchy chosen family this story revolves around, the oldest brother is gay. Review of Moonset. Review of Darkbound.
Tracey, Scott. Witch Eyes. Sequels Demon Eyes and Phantom Eyes. Warlock Braden becomes embroiled in power struggles when he moves to Belle Dam. He falls for Trey, the scion of another family. Review of Phantom Eyes.
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.
danforth, emily m. The Miseducation of Cameron Post. This coming-of-age novel is simmering on my TBR. 2013 Morris Award finalist
Donovan, John. I'll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip. This classic was contemporary when it was published in 1969. Notable for being the first book for teens with homosexual themes, this is the story of a thirteen-year-old boy and his dog going to live with his mother in NYC after his grandmother's death.
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. Instead, I enjoyed it even though it made me cry.
Lennon, Tom. When Love Comes to Town. This title was contemporary when written, but now reads as a historical twenty years later. It's a tougher time to come out, but Neil Byrne makes it. Review of When Love Comes to Town.
Meyer, L. A. Bloody Jack. The long-running Bloody Jack Adventures series has a gay secondary character who appears in all of the books and sometimes gets to have sex, unlike the heroine. There are reoccurring lesbian characters. Jacky herself has a lesbian relationship in the eighth book, In the Wake of the Lorelei Lee. Review of Viva Jacquelina! Review of Boston Jacky.
Rasheed, Leila. Cinders & Sapphires. Sequel Diamonds & Deceit. One of the narrators of At Somerton is gay, which causes much complications for him in pre-war England. Review of Diamonds & Deceit.
Sáenz, Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Two boys growing up in El Paso, not so long ago, become best friends. 2013 Printz Honor
Sepetys, Ruta. Out of the Easy. Jo longs to escape her life in postwar New Orleans. Contains a background gay romance with subtle hints of what it means to be queer in the 1950s French Quarter. Review of Out of the Easy. 2013 Cybils Finalist in Young Adult Fiction
Talley, Robin. Lies We Tell Ourselves. This book is a bit of a downer, given that it focuses on an interracial lesbian relationship in the recently desegregated South. At the same time, it's a unique read. Review of Lies We Tell Ourselves. Junior Library Guild selection; 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards nominee
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.
Benway, Robin. Also Known As. In this spy mystery/romantic comedy, the heroine's mentor and honorary uncle is gay.
Goeglein, T.M. Cold Fury. Sequel Flicker & Burn. Sarah Jane's best friend Doug isn't sure of his sexuality, and when he gets a love interest in book two their gender is never specified. It appears to be a continuing subplot in these mafia thrillers. Review of Cold Fury. Review of Flicker & Burn.
Jaffe, Michele. Ghostflower. This mystery is crazy, full of secret identities and family secrets. One of the secrets is a lesbian relationship.
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.
Herren, Greg. Dark Tide. In the summer before college, a lifeguard stumbles into a mystery at his summer job. Short and twisty read. Review of Dark Tide.
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? Somewhat dated, and best for older teens.
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.
Scieszka, Jon, ed. Who Done It? Anthology written in first-person point of view by a wide selection of authors, many of whom are queer. No romance, but I think it counts anyway. Review of Who Done It?
Ucci-Plum, Carol. What Happened to Lani Garver? So it's an unsolved mystery. This book is sheer brilliance. A favorite. 2003 Teens' Top Ten
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.
York, Kelley. Hushed. Aiden kills people to protect his best friend and crush, Vivian. Then, he meets Evan. Review of Hushed.
Adams, Jen. The Books They Gave Me. True stories of books given to people by lovers, friends, and family. Several of the stories involve queer couples. Review of The Books They Gave Me.
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.
Cronn-Mills, Kristin. Transgender Lives, Complex Voices. Simple introduction to trans* issues with interviews. Review of Transgender Lives, Complex Voices.
Lecesne, James and Sarah Moon, ed. The Letter Q. Anthology of queer writers' letters to their younger selves. Showcases a variety of voices. Review of The Letter Q.
O'Brien, Glenn. The Cool School. This anthology explores the original hipsters, which includes the "sexually excluded." Review of The Cool School.
Trope, Zoe. Please Don't Kill the Freshman. I remember finding this memoir rather strange back in high school, but I've seen it recommended on several gay and lesbian lists.
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.
Beukes, Lauren. The Shining Girls. This adult novel about a time-traveling serial killer definitely has crossover potential. Contains lesbian and transgendered characters. Review of The Shining Girls.
Bray, Libba. Beauty Queens. In this futuristic satire, a group of young beauty contestants crash land on an island. 2012 Readers' Choice list
dos Santos, Steven. The Culling. Sequel The Sowing. The Torch Keeper series is a dystopian world where children fight in a tournament much like The Hunger Games, only they get a government position at the end. Lucky is in love with one of his male opponents, but to lose means his little brother's life. Brutal. Review of The Culling. Review of The Sowing.
Johnson, Alaya Dawn. The Summer Prince. Teenagers in the future rebel against their elders. Lots of bisexual characters treated like no big thing. Review of The Summer Prince. 2013 Cybils Winner in YA Speculative Fiction
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.
Lo, Malinda. Adaptation. Sequel Inheritance. An X-Files-inspired series by the author of Ash and Huntress. I prefer it to those books and love the unconventional resolution to the romance. Review of Adaptation.
Girard, Geoffrey. Project Cain. Companion to Blood of Cain. Clones of serial killers run amok. Jeff, a clone of Jeffrey Dahmer, is the protagonist and likely gay. But the story's focus is on capturing a group of killers on the run. Review of Project Cain.
Healey, Karen. When We Wake. Companion While We Run. Both narrators of this science-fiction duology are straight, but there are important lesbian and transgender secondary characters. Very thrilling. 2014 Cybils Award Finalist in YA Speculative Fiction
Smith, Andrew. Grasshopper Jungle. The world ends due to giant killer praying mantises; meanwhile, Austin is distracted by his love for his girlfriend and his (male) best friend. (Like Adaptation/Inheritance, has an unusual romance resolution.) Review of Grasshopper Jungle.
Whaley, John Corey. Noggin. A boy wakes up five years later after a brain transplant and must reintegrate with society and the ways his friends and family have both moved on or stagnated, including his best friend who has yet to come out of the closet. 2014 Cybils Award Finalist in YA Speculative Fiction