On the blog today, I am going to pick up with my young adult series. The topic for this particular segment will be centered around LGBTQA+ books – what they do for YA, how they help a young audience, and book recommendations.
Growing up, it wasn’t often that I saw representation of the LGBTQA+ community, especially when it came to books. I recall a lot of heterosexual representation, with a woman falling for a man and it being a sweeping romance, or trials and tribulations that led to a happy ending, or a blooming relationship that would eventually end in some kind of progress. Though these stories have their own merit, I remember asking, “what about others?” especially since I had friends in the community and was dealing with my own questions about sexuality.
This post was going to occur later in my series, but with the growing push for diversity in literature, I decided it was time to bring this to the forefront of my own blog. One of the aspects of YA that I love is the emergence of literature that deals with issues like sexual and personal identity, coming out, and relationships. The change in just the last five years alone has blown me away and I am finding more books that I pick up to be a pleasant change from a heterosexual romance. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing to shame for being heterosexual. It is merely important that other voices are brought into the mix, to aide in the publishing industry’s need for diversity and inclusivity.
With how young adult literature is marketed, it is meant for a younger audience, particularly those in their preteen/teenage years where the question of “who am I?” is going to arise. Identities aren’t just made up of internal thoughts and experiences, rather a collective experience from both one’s self and their environment. It is a fact that if one does not see themselves represented, they will feel as if they aren’t important. Experiences need to extend to everyone, not just the people who are making a product or a single section of the population.
What is needed in books for those of the LGBTQA + community is not only validation of their identity, but the struggles that come with it, the successes, the acceptance of who they are, what they value, who they love. Books, at least from my perspective, are a solace, a way to escape life and also enable my imagination.
What is the point of literature or any type of production if you can’t even imagine yourself in it?
It is why books with all kinds of representation are important. Someone reading a book and relating to it could change their life, how they grow as a person, how they choose to express themselves. What is also important is not just representation, but the healthy kind of representation.
If you are interested in finding some LGBTQA+ literature, I highly recommend checking out this graphic. The information there is from 2015, but I also recommend this list of books which include titles from 2016. Lastly, check out this website which gives an even more extensive list of YA literature. Some of my personal favorites would be:
The Timekeeper – Tara Sim
A cute, organic relationship between two boys that grows and festers into something you won’t want to miss.
I’ll Give You The Sun – Jandy Nelson
Not only will you get the emotional bond between siblings, but what it is like to fall in love.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz
You will get a unique, but also diverse relationship between two boys who discover just how deep their feelings go, but not without its challenges and personal growth.
The Perks of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
What I love about this book is you have a gay character who has long since come out and is proud of his identity.
Proxy – Alex London
READ THIS and probably cry. I’ll just leave this recommendation at that.
Carry On – Rainbow Rowell
Fantasy meets angst meets unexpected feelings. This book is a must read from start to finish.
I will also give recommendations I have not personally gotten around to reading but heard amazing things about:
Of Fire and Stars – Audrey Coulthurst
More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera
Labyrinth Lost – Zoraida Cordova
So get out there readers. Love these books. Share them. Feel free to leave recommendations of your own.