Every Friday in June, I'll be listing the YA novels first published in 2012 that include LGBT main characters. Today I'm covering books published in the first quarter: January through March. Next week I'll list books published April-June; then July-September; and finally October-December. Before I present the first batch of books, I have a number of disclaimers/explanations that I hope you will read:
- These are all new titles published 2012 for the first time in the United States. I made the agonizing decision to exclude Canada, Australia, the U.K., etc., because there are only 24 hours in the day. If you know of a 2012 LGBT YA novel published elsewhere, please do note it in the comments.
- By "LGBT YA novels" I mean young adult novels with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning main characters. I relied on the publisher's categorization of a novel in order to determine if it was YA or not. That means this list does not include books that publishers categorized as middle grade; nor does it include books published for the adult market.
- I'm also focusing on main characters here; that means many books that include secondary or supporting LGBTQ characters are not going to appear on this list. While supporting LGBT characters can indeed be significant (I'm looking at you, Magnus!), I chose to focus on MAIN characters, as I do believe there is a difference between being the star of the story and being the sidekick. But if you know of a book with an LGBT supporting character you love, feel free to mention it in the comments!
- Occasionally, you will find a book that is about a straight main character dealing with someone else's LGBT identity. This used to be more common in YA than it is today, but there are still a few books with this kind of story. These books are also included in the list because they are undoubtedly about being LGBT.
- These titles were discovered through a variety of methods: consulting lists compiled by a group of librarians working on a comprehensive bibliography of LGBT YA (this effort actually was launched after my post on LGBT YA statistics); inviting input on Twitter; reading through numerous publisher catalogs hoping to find mentions of LGBT characters. Though I've included every title I could find, I'm sure I've missed some. If you know of an LGBT YA novel published in 2012 that isn't on this list (be aware that today I'm only posting books from January-March), please post a comment with details on the book. Thanks!
- This list includes titles published by commercial publishers and small presses. It does not include self-published titles because (1) I don't have enough time to find them; (2) I'm interested in looking at how commercial/small press publishing presents and markets LGBT YA fiction.
- Each book is listed with its title and cover linked to Barnes & Noble because using B&N made things easier for me. There are a LOT of books involved in this list and B&N happens to sell them all. This doesn't mean you need to buy them from B&N.
- If the author has a website, I've linked their name to their website.
- The books' descriptions come from their jacket copy, which is produced by their publishers.
- In the case of anthologies, I've included a note that indicates which short stories feature LGBT main characters.
- I have not read the vast majority of these titles, and inclusion on this list does not mean that I personally endorse them. I make no guarantees of quality here; I'm only listing the LGBT YA titles published in 2012.
Updated 6/11/12: Added Immortal Longings by Diane Dekelb-Rittenhouse Updated 6/13/12: Added Mimi Attacks! by Hayden Thorne
Girl Meets Boy: Because There Are Two Sides to Every Story Edited by Kelly Milner Halls Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publisher's Description: Unique set of 6 short stories each told from two different points of view — the girl and the boy — by some of today's best YA authors. What do guys and girls really think? Twelve of the most dynamic and engaging YA authors writing today team up for this one-of-a-kind collection of "he said/she said" stories-he tells it from the guy's point of view, she tells it from the girl's. These are stories of love and heartbreak. There's the good-looking jock who falls for a dangerous girl, and the flipside, the toxic girl who never learned to be loved; the basketball star and the artistic (and shorter) boy she never knew she wanted; the gay boy looking for love online and the girl who could help make it happen. Each story in this unforgettable collection teaches us that relationships are complicated-because there are two sides to every story.
Notes: “Want to Meet” by James Howe, “Meeting for Real” by Ellen Wittlinger, and “Launchpad to Neptune” by Sara Ryan and Randy Powell include LGBT main characters.
Publisher's Description: Is it possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met? Imogen Summers thinks so because it’s happened to her.
Immy is a normal eighteen-year-old, with a normal life, a normal family, and a normal boyfriend. But when she finds herself falling for a girl on an Internet message board, a girl she knows only as the mysterious Fickle, her so-called normal life is suddenly turned on its head.
As her relationship with Fickle develops into more than just friendship, Immy finds another message board friend, the sweet and lovely Freddie, the perfect person to confide in. But can Freddie stay out of it when she starts to fall for Immy herself? Things are about to get complicated...
My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan By Seth Rudetsky Publisher: Random House
Publisher's Description: Justin has two goals for sophomore year: to date Chuck, the hottest boy in school, and to become the king of Cool U, the table in the cafeteria where the "in" crowd sits.
Unfortunately, he has the wrong look (short, plump, Brillo-pad curls), he has the wrong interests (Broadway, chorus violin), and he has the wrong friends (Spencer, into Eastern religions, and Mary Ann, who doesn't shave her armpits). And Chuck? Well, he's not gay; he's dating Becky, a girl in chorus with whom Justin is friendly.
But Justin is determined.
In detention one day (because he saw Chuck get it first), Justin comes up with a perfect plan: to allow Becky to continue dating Chuck, whom Becky's dad hates. They will pretend that Becky is dating Justin, whom Becky's dad loves. And when Becky and Justin go out on a fake date, Chuck will meet up with them for a real date with Becky. Chuck's bound to find Justin irresistable, right? What could go wrong?
Pretty Little Liars: Pretty Little Secrets By Sara Shepard Publisher: HarperTeen
Publisher's Description: It’s the pretty little liars like you’ve never seen them before! This all-new collection includes four original stories that take place over winter break between the first and second arcs of the series.
At the end of Unbelievable, Ali’s killer is in jail and the girls’ stalker, A, is dead, leaving Hanna, Aria, Spencer, and Emily free. Or so they think. But although they won’t know it until Wicked, there’s a new A in town. And as each girl gets into fresh scrapes, new A is there to see it all...and soon will have enough dirt to bury them alive.
Publisher's Description: Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, honest, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.
But when Adam graduates and takes an Off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it is the attention of an underclassman who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.
J.H. Trumble’s debut, DON’T LET ME GO, is a witty, beautifully written novel that is both a sweet story of love and long-distance relationships, and a timely discourse about bullying, bigotry, and hate in high schools.
Publisher's Description: When Cameron Post's parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they'll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.
But that relief doesn't last, and Cam is soon forced to live with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her Grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.
Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship--one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to "fix" her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she's not quite sure just who that is.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.
Immortal Longings: A Vampire Novel By Diane Dekelb-Rittenhouse Publisher: Tiny Satchel (Bella Distribution)
Publisher's Description: Lauren and Kayla are the perfect high school coupleexcept they aren’t actually a couple. The cute, smart, sarcastic Lauren is secretly in love with her best friend, Kayla, the gorgeous bi-racial lead actress in the drama club. But Kayla, one of the most popular girls at school, changes partners (male and female) like other girls change shoes.
After seeing a play in Manhattan one autumn afternoon, the two 17-year-olds wander into a vintage clothing store, Deja Nous. Their impromptu shopping spree leads to a chance meeting with the mysterious and beautiful owner, Elizabeth Valiant. Despite strange, subtle warnings from Matt, another clerk at the store, both girls agree to take after-school jobs at the enticing shop. On the ride home to Queens, Kayla talks non-stop about the wonderful clothes, the fabulous Elizabeth and how much fun the girls will have working together.
Deja Nousand the intriguing and sensual Elizabethsoon becomes an obsession for Lauren and Kayla. Then, after being accosted at the subway by a strange man and overhearing a surprising conversation, Lauren accidentally discovers the secret behind the shop and the Valiant family. As she delves deeper into the mystery, she realizes that her life and that of her beloved Kayla are in dangerlife-threatening dangerfrom a centuries-old curse.
Publisher's Description: Lucas and Tessa’s friendship is the stuff of legend in their small Midwestern town. So it’s no surprise when Lucas finally realizes his feelings for Tessa are more than friendship and he asks her to prom. What no one expected, especially Lucas, was for Tessa to come out as a lesbian instead of accepting his heartfelt invitation. Humiliated and confused, Lucas also feels betrayed that his best friend kept such an important secret from him.
What’s worse is Tessa’s decision to wear a tastefully tailored tuxedo to escort her female crush, sparking a firestorm of controversy. Lucas must decide if he should stand on the sidelines or if he should stand by his friend to make sure that Tessa Masterson will go to prom.
Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin tackle both sides of a ripped-from-the headlines story to show that true friendship will triumph after all.
Publisher's Description: The boarding school known as Archangel Academy possesses a legacy of secrets known only to a privileged few. For in this peaceful, charming part of England lives a population of vampires at war with one another—and Michael Howard is caught in the middle of it all. . .
When Michael left his small Nebraska hometown to enroll at Archangel Academy, he couldn't have imagined how much the experience would change him. Once mortal, Michael is now a vampire with a destiny that was foretold long ago, and a group of friends with their own mysterious abilities.
But there are enemies too, some of them hiding in plain sight. Being strong enough to defend himself isn't enough. Michael must find a way to protect his entire race of vampires. Dark forces within the school will drive everyone to take sides in the escalating violence. And for all his new powers, Michael will discover that love, jealousy, and vengeance have a danger all their own...
Brave New Love: 13 Dystopian Tales of Desire Edited by Paula Guran Publisher: Running Press Kids
Publisher's Description: Young love has always had its challenges, but even so, the world falling apart at its seams is a pretty big obstacle. This stellar collection of YA dystopian tales explores survival of the fittest in terms of love, passion, and humanity. When the survival of the human race is at stake, what will it take for the bond between two people to hold strong together?
Featuring some of the most well known and best-selling names of the dystopian genre, as well as the hottest up-and-coming authors, this anthology includes works from Jeanne DuPrau (City of Ember), Kiera Cass (The Selection), William Sleator (Interstellar Pig), Jesse Karp (Those That Wake), Diana Peterfreund (Secret Society Girl), Carrie Vaughn (The Kitty Norville Series), and Carrie Ryan (New York Times bestseller The Forest of Hands and Teeth).
Notes: “The Salt Sea and the Sky” by Elizabeth Bear, “Otherwise” by Nisi Shawl, “Arose From Poetry” by Steve Berman, “Red” by Amanda Downun, and “Eric and Pan” by William Sleator include LGBT main characters.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe By Benjamin Alire Saenz Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publisher's Description: 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. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
Publisher's Description: Jesse cuts her own hair with a Swiss Army knife. She wears big green fisherman's boots. She's the founding (and only) member of NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. Emily wears sweaters with faux pearl buttons. She's vice president of the student council. She has a boyfriend.
These two girls have nothing in common, except the passionate “private time” they share every Tuesday afternoon. Jesse wishes their relationship could be out in the open, but Emily feels she has too much to lose. When they find themselves on opposite sides of a heated school conflict, they each have to decide what's more important: what you believe in, or the one you love?
Distant Rumblings By John Goode Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publisher's Description: Kane Vess may be gay, but he is also extraordinarily ordinary—a crushing weight in Athens, Iowa, where a person’s worth is measured by his uniqueness. But when he meets the school’s newest student, Kane’s ordinariness seems to evaporate. He is desperate to get to know the mysterious stranger… and that leads him into danger. Hawk is an exile from his homeland, an otherworldly traveler with impossible abilities and a changeling bodyguard. He’s generally disappointed in Earth, which seems common except for Kane. But while Hawk and Kane explore their mutual interest, the forces that made Hawk an exile are busy tracking him down. Kane’s newfound feelings pull him into Hawk’s shadowy fantasy world, where he learns he needs to grow up fast. Kane’s life may now be extraordinary, but if he isn’t careful it could cost him everyone he holds dear—including Hawk.
Publisher's Description: Following Arachnaman’s bigoted, hateful attacks, life in beleaguered Vintage City finally quiets down, but it doesn’t last long. Eric’s father begins to show symptoms of extreme fatigue, symptoms that Eric notices in a number of other people he sees elsewhere. Along with the superheroes, he tries to find a common denominator in all this, the surprising result being a new perfume shop that hawks very strong fragrances. A familiar pair of supervillains is suspected, but before the heroes can further investigate the motives behind this threat, people exhibiting symptoms of illness are transformed in the most shocking way, throwing Vintage City in a state of panic.
In the meantime, Eric monitors the Unofficial Calais Fan Club, which is now exploding with romantic Mary Sue fanfiction involving Calais as well as curious messages posted by a girl who’s apparently wildly in love with the superhero. References to her making “new friends” alert Eric to suspect that she and the current mayhem being inflicted on Vintage City are somehow tied together. The stakes are now raised for Eric, whose father has become a victim to a new crime wave and whose superhero boyfriend might also be under threat. All this, and he’s yet to survive school and find a job.
Publisher's Description: Tyson Rua has more than his fair share of problems growing up in South Auckland. Working a night job to support his mother and helping bring up his two younger brothers is just the half of it. His best friend Rawiri is falling afoul of a broken home, and now Tyson's fallen in love at first sight.
Only thing is, it's another guy.
Living life on the sidelines of the local hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he's going to have to get a whole lot more involved. And that means more problems. The least of which is the leader of the local rap crew he's found himself running with. Love, life, and hip-hop never do things by half.