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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Saturday Spotlight: Homosexuality in YA Literature

When I start work in September I have been informed that the PSE topic for the Autumn/Winter term is Homophobia. My homework for the Summer holidays is to create a list of YA books that deal with the issue of homosexuality.

I know of a few:

Plus Wikipedia have a huge list of both male and female gay-themed books. (Anyone else dislike the use of the word gay but for want of a better one it will have to suffice).
Instead of listing them all I will just put the link to the Wikipedia page.

I would be extremely grateful if any of you have read and reviewed any of these books, or know of any more, would you please leave a link in the comments for me to look at the reviews. Also your thoughts on how homosexuality is approached within teen literature would be invaluable : D

Thank you for all your help it is much appreciated : D


  1. Hey!
    What a great topic to talk about!
    There is a GLBT Reacing Challenge that I am doing in 2010 (blog link: if you want to check out their bibliographies and debates;

    I have read and reviewed a few LGBT books:
    - Luna by Julie Anne Peters (Transgender)
    - Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
    - Ash by Malinda Lo
    - Mothernight by Sarah Stovell

    Sometimes, I find that YA lacks diversity in many books (not just on sexuality, but in general) and 'recently' there has been a wave of books going against the general trend. The books on homosexuality in particular are invaluable since they give teenagers (and adults) a way to understand better whatever it is that's going on inside them. It is sometimes hard to find a name to what you feel inside, and being able to read books on the subject without having the pressure of talking directly to someone about it is amazing. It also gives you that "you're not alone" feeling when you feel the most confused.

    There are for me two types of YA books with LGBT themes: when the book talks about discovering those feelings and coming to terms with one's sexuality, and the ones having LGBT themes but not being about homosexuality per se.

    The most interesting is that YA books with LGBT themes take place when a person starts having doubts or confirmations on their sexuality and the writer often wants to show how a person comes to accept their homosexuality (or other) and show that there is nothing essentially wrong about it. The book 'Luna' about a young girl trapped in a boy's body is absolutely amazing for this.

    Other books have LGBT themes in them, like Ash by Malinda Lo or Mothernight, but they are not about this subject in particular. This will be the future of books with LGBT themes: books that will be classified as general literature or YA without having a separate "LGBT section", books that don't have to justify the fact that they have gay characters in them. LGBT represents a theme in a book, not a literary genre for me.

    Anyways, I am being more confusing than ever :)

    Will email you titles when I find some!

    Cool initiative of your school to do this!

  2. Interesting topic. I think the great thing about current YA literature is that books are starting more and more to feature characters who are gay but without making that the entire focus of the story. That makes me happy, because it's acknowledging that being gay itself isn't the sum total of a gay person's life or identity. At the same time, I think it's always important to have new 'coming out' stories being published, because the gay teens who need these stories deserve contemporary and well-written characters who are going through the same realisations as they are. I'm also noticing that books now are looking at the internalised homophobia a character may feel, or the more subtle forms that lead to awkwardness between friends or family members.

    A couple of books I've read over the last year that deal with homophobia (sometimes only as a small side issue) include:

    The Sky Always Hears Me and The Hills Don't Mind by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
    Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
    Of All The Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
    Posse by Kate Welshman
    The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
    Sugar Rush by Julie Burchell

    I've reviewed all these on my blog except for Sugar Rush and Of All The Stupid Things, but both of those are great too.

    In my TBR I have Empress of the World by Sara Ryan, and Pink by Lili Wilkinson.

    However, having looked at this list I'm pretty sure most of these aren't readily available in the UK, which leads me to think that I must not be finding many interesting-sounding LGBT books from UK authors. I'm hoping this is just because I need to give a little more attention to finding them, and not because they don't exist.

  3. The Bermudez Triangle is one of my favourite books, so definitely get that! ;)

    As for the UK, the only one that springs to mind is Strange Boy by Paul Magrs, but I'm sure (I hope!) there must be more...

  4. Thank you so much Lauren, Caroline and Keris for your amazing contribution :D
    You are all awesome

  5. Definitely Patrick Ness' short story from the anthology "Losing It" edited by Keith Gray too.

  6. What an interesting topic to be done in a school setting - the ones I thought of you've already mentioned (Will Grayson, Boy Meets Boy) or have already been suggested - Ash, The Bermudez Triangle, Kissing Kate. Will have to think some more and get back to you!


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