10 YA books to read after watching Love, Simon
10 YA books with LGBTQIA+ protagonists for fans of Love, Simon
By now most of us have read, watched or at least heard of the phenomenon that is Love, Simon. From the original book, ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli, to its newly released movie adaptation, ‘Love, Simon’ has touched the hearts and lives of many. With its wonderful story following teenager Simon Spier’s experience coming out, it’s safe to say ‘Love, Simon’ is an incredibly special, well-written and wonderfully told story. If after having either read the original book or watched the movie, you’ve been left with a craving for more YA books like it, here are ten that will hopefully help to fill that Simon shaped void.
‘Leah on the Offbeat’ by Becky Albertalli
First and foremost, it would be foolish to recommend books based on ‘Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda’ (e.g. ‘Love, Simon’) without mentioning its sequel and companion novel, ‘Leah on the Off Beat’. Coming out on 24th April in the US (3rd May in the UK) ‘Leah on the Offbeat’ is set during the same time period as Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda but follows Leah Burke, Simon’s best friend (played by Katherine Langford in the movie) as she navigates her passions for drawing and music, friendship, decisions about the future, her sexuality (she’s bisexual but only out to her mum) and unexpected love. It’s been also confirmed that Simon and the gang will make their return along with Leah, what more could you possibly want?!
‘Ramona Blue’ by Julie Murphy
With the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina still effecting her family over ten years later, being one of the only two out lesbians in her small town and standing at a wonderful 6 feet tall, Ramona and her bright blue hair have faced their fair share of obstacles. But after her girlfriend breaks up with her and one of her oldest friends moves back into town, she finds herself slowly starting to develop feelings for him and in turn, begins to learn that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem. Just like ‘Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda’, ‘Ramona Blue’ features characters and relationships (platonic, romantic and familial) you’ll instantly fall for. With a candid exploration of poverty and the fluidity of sexuality, ‘Ramona Blue’ is an utterly adorable, funny, diverse and heartfelt read that will help to fill the ‘Love, Simon’ shaped hole in your heart.
‘Arisotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ is one of the most gorgeous coming of age novels featuring a M/M relationship the YA world has to offer. It’s a firm favourite of so many and there’s no question as to why that is. The writing is wonderful, the characters are adorable and the multiple relationship dynamics even more so. It explores the many facets of coming to terms with yourself and your sexuality, whilst all the while simply growing up.
The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding
Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favourite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes. Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story? But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?
‘Heartstopper by’ Alice Oseman
Technically not a book but deserving of being shouted about just as much as Alice Osemans novels (Radio Silence, Solitaire and I Was Born for This) is her webcomic ‘Heartstopper’. Updated three times a month with stunning illustations, ‘Heartstopper’ comic about love, friendship, loyalty, life, time, and mental illness. It follows the blossoming relationship between Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. It’s heartstoppingly adorable and guaranteed to deliver all the warm fuzzies.
‘Let’s Talk About Love’ by Claire Kann
‘Let’s Talk About’ Love follows Alice (who’s biromantic and asexual) as her plans for a blissful summer of non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets, TV marathons with her best friends and working at the library suddenly don’t seem so appealing after she has to do them alone, due to her girlfriend ending things after Alice confesses she’s asexual. But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for and Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood. With a wonderful exploration of asexuality, friendship, college, family and facing daunting decisions about the future, ‘Let’s Talk About Love’ is a brilliantly funny, heart warming and emotional read.
‘All Out: The No Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout History’ edited by Saundra Mitchell
If you’re looking to journey back in time, Saundra Mitchell’s anthology might be the perfect place to start. From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent or an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten. Featuring short stories from 17 YA authors including Anna-Marie McLemore, Natalie C. Parker, Nilah Magruder, Mackenzi Lee, Malinda Lo, Dahlia Alder, Scott Tracey and Tess Sharpe.
‘The Backstagers’ by James Tynion IV and Ryan Sygn
If graphic novels are more your thing, look no further than ‘The Backstagers’. Set at an all-boys private school, you’ll fall in love with it’s loveable cast of characters, who are working together backstage to pull of the best play their high school has ever seen. With drama, friendship, theatre, adorable artwork and a fantasy twist, ‘The Backstagers’ is a must read.
‘This Is Kind Of An Epic Love Story’ by Kheryn Callender
Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life. Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend. After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?
Coming out October 2018, unfortunately we have to wait a while to get our hands on what sounds like the ultimate best friends to romance story but I have a feeling it will be worth the wait.
‘What If It’s Us’ by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli
This autumn, besties and renowned YA authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera are finally coming together to bless us with ‘What If It’s Us’. Written in dual perspective, with each author writing one POV, ‘What If It’s Us’ follows Broadway obsessed Arthur and recently single Ben after they have their very own meet cute at the post office, where ben is carry a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things. Having been written by the YA author dream team, there’s no doubt that ‘What If It’s Us’ will deliver all the romance, heartbreak, wonderful writing (and hopefully musical references?!) of our YA dreams.
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