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8 amazing LGBT+ young adult books by contemporary queer authors

8 amazing LGBT+ young adult books by contemporary queer authors

  • The Gravity of Us author, Phil Stamper, shares his favorite recent YA LGBT+ fiction.
Teenage boy reading.

This will come as no surprise, but I read a lot of LGBT+ books. Partially because it’s my job, sure, but honestly? It’s something I never got to experience when I was younger.

When I was a teen, there were basically no books with queer protagonists on the shelf. It would have been incredibly meaningful to see myself on the cover of a book back then, but that makes me especially grateful that I get the opportunity to write books like The Gravity of Us now.

Phil Stamper.
YA author Phil Stamper. Bloomsbury

I’ve been amazed at the strides publishing has made in queer YA over the last few years, especially when it comes to diverse, intersectional queer stories.

We still have quite a way to go, but I do feel hopeful. With that in mind, here are seven of my favorite recent LGBT+ YA books – all by queer authors!

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante
The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante. Penguin Random House

This story is charming, fascinating, and terrifying. 17-year-old Marisol and her sister are detained in the US after fleeing El Salvador under the threat of death.

But the government gives Marisol a chance at a new life. If she agrees to take the grief of another into her own body through an experimental medical study, she’ll be free and she’ll keep her sister safe.

She takes this deal, and what transpires is a twisty, bizarrely believable, story about mental illness, grief, and somehow, love.

Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Odd One Out by Nic Stone
Odd One Out by Nic Stone. Simon and Schuster

Most of my books on this list are from 2019 or 2020, but I will never stop yelling about this fantastic book from 2018.

Nic Stone brings together three hilarious, messy teens in a brilliantly nuanced story about friendship, identity, and first love.

If you missed it when it came out, make sure you give it a read!

Camp by LC Rosen

Camp by LC Rosen
Camp by LC Rosen. Penguin

One of my favorite books of the year, Camp really shines.

It’s a rom-com that follows flamboyant and confident teen Randy as he tries to win over the ‘masc for masc’ guy at his camp by reinventing himself as the perfect ‘straight-acting’ guy.

It’s such a bad plan, and everyone around him knows it, which is actually what makes this book so compelling. The supporting cast will keep you laughing, and Randy will have you cringing in the most relatable way.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Felix Ever After by by Kacen Callender.
Felix Ever After by by Kacen Callender. HarperCollins

This book follows a trans teen as he grapples with his identity and falls in love for the first time.

I loved how Kacen was able to give Felix such a complicated love life, while offering a fairly nuanced take on transphobia from within the queer community.

I’m biased, but I also loved the setting – the book captured the essence of New York City so well.

Late To The Party by Kelly Quindlen

Late To The Party by Kelly Quindlen
Late To The Party by Kelly Quindlen Roaring Brook Press

High school friendships are not always easy.

In Late to the Party, we see this really aspirational friendship between three queer teens start to erode because, while Codi loves her friends, they also keep her from becoming the person she wants to be – even if she isn’t sure who that person is just yet.

This book perfectly captures the exciting feeling of falling into a new group of friends, having them see you as a completely different person, and having to reconcile your new self with who your old friends know you as.

Codi and Lydia’s love story is SUPER cute, and I wasn’t able to put this down for a minute.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. Hodder Children

If you’ve never read a verse novel, this is a fantastic place to start.

This beautiful book is impossible to put down, and with each re-read you absorb more and more of its beauty. 

You’ll fall in love with Michael as he grows up in London and navigates his identity and feelings of not being black enough, Greek enough, or the right kind of gay.

But once he discovers drag, he finds out where he belongs and becomes the Black Flamingo.

Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian. HarperCollins

Even as a queer teen in the early 00s, I felt the aftereffects of how poorly the government, and American society, dealt with the AIDS crisis in the 80s.

So I was immediately drawn to the concept of a queer YA set in New York City, 1989.

It’s such a sweet story of first love and friendship, a perfect blend of queer joy and queer pain with a focus on the importance of activism.

Even though it’s a historical YA, the teens are so charming and relatable. Just be warned – you’ll get Madonna’s music stuck in your head for months after reading this!

About Phil Stamper and The Gravity of Us

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper Bloomsbury

Phil Stamper is the author of YA gay love story, The Gravity of Us.

The story follows Cal, who wants to be a journalist. But his life changes when NASA selects his pilot father for a mission to Mars.

Within days, Cal and his parents leave their home in Brooklyn for Houston. And Cal finds himself in the middle of a media circus while his parents bicker as they try to manage the stress.

Then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels in love.

But when secrets come out about the ulterior motives of the mission, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.