WRITTEN BY: Allison Chudina
The following novels made it on to this list because they feature strong, empowering LGBTQ characters who are placed at the forefront of their stories in a way that doesn’t feel tokenized.
These novels are worth a read for the LGBTQ representation alone, but they are also very well-written and emotional, too. You may need some tissues to make it through them in one piece.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
This novel made it onto the list because it is so rare to find a popular young adult novel that features a gay love story at its center. So often, YA romance novels only include heterosexual couples, but “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” broke that mold.
This novel is very funny and witty as well as insightful and emotional. Anyone trying to discover themselves should read this book. It is a refreshing love story, and for once, the gay characters get a happy ending.
Call Me by Your Name
“Call Me by Your Name” is more recognized for its praised 2017 film adaptation, which garnered several Oscar nominations the following year. However, this novel, written by André Aciman, is equally fantastic.
This story is devastatingly romantic and sad, and it is also a very quick read for anyone who doesn’t have time to enjoy lengthier novels right now. The two main characters, Elio and Oliver, are extremely well-developed and complex, and readers will no doubt fall in love with them over the course of the novel.
They Both Die at the End
This book is fairly unknown when you compare it to the others on this list, but it is just as impactful. “They Both Die at the End” is another YA novel, but it has futuristic elements similar to a “Black Mirror” episode.
The two main characters, Mateo and Rufus, become friends after learning they both only have one day left to live thanks to a system that tells people when they’re going to die. The best thing about this story is that its romantic elements are almost hidden at the beginning of the novel.
The relationship between Mateo and Rufus sneaks up on you, and it is developed so gradually and expertly that it feels like the most natural and beautiful thing in the world when the two boys finally express their feelings for one another.
The Price of Salt
“The Price of Salt,” better known as “Carol,” is a fantastic novel about two women having a forbidden affair in the 1950s. The 2015 movie adaptation is wonderful as well, but the novel deserves a read for its authentic portrayal of love during a time when queer people were thought of as outcasts.
This book handles the love story between Therese and Carol with care and sensitivity, and it is a really beautiful look into the lives of women dealing with personal struggles as well as societal ones.