Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lesbian Young Adult Fiction

Hey, Dollface by Deborah Hautzig
A short and charming story about two girls
who become close enough friends to
blur the boundaries, and how their families react.
This is a complete (or as close as possible) list of all the lesbian young adult fiction currently published. As far as I know, it's the only one in existence (if there's another, I wish I'd found it while searching for all these titles!).

Lesbian (and bisexual) girls have tragically little young adult fiction to themselves. According to recent research by YA author Malinda Lo, about 0.25% of published YA books in the US are about lesbians. And yet, for such a short list of works, it was surprisingly hard to track them all down - there are plenty of GLBT YA lists, but these tend not to actually separate out the lesbian books, and to be dominated by gay male stories.

We're working on actually categorising and describing the individual books further, but it's a fairly major project. 

Some of the books below don't have a lesbian main character - but they do have lesbian secondary characters (e.g. a mother) and much of the plot is about the main character dealing with this. Pretty Little Liars is there twice, because the original series and the television series differ, but both have a bisexual or lesbian character. There are also a handful of books for which I had to make a judgement call about whether they were actually 'young adult'. If you know of any other books that should be here, please let us know! (Currently, there are about 120 titles. Give or take a couple of miscounts. This number keeps changing as we add and remove books). And as you can see from the publication dates, the vast, vast majority were published in the last ten years.

Note: if the lesbianism is too ambiguous (i.e. mostly or all subtext as in Violet & Claire) or the lesbian character/content is too minor (e.g. the frequently cited Tamora Pierce's books. IMO. Though I may have to reread them) they will not be included. That's not to say we won't review them, if only to point out the lack of lesbianism, but this list is reserved for pure, guaranteed lesbian/bisexual characters who get lots of plot attention, not books where you have to draw up a checklist to figure out if it qualifies.

The full list of lesbian YA fiction

Quick Genre Count:
No. of titles in each genre. Series are counted as one, and there's at least one series in each category. A couple of books fall into more than one, and are counted in both.
  • Contemporary: 91
  • Fantasy: 11
  • Historical: 11  
  • Science Fiction: 4
  • Non-lesbian main character: 18 (13 contemporary, 4 historical, 1 historical fantasy)
Breakdowns of the full list above:

Manga & Other Comics
Most manga that makes it to the English market is for teens, and while rare, some yuri (lesbian) stories do make it. We've got a list of yuri manga that has been published in English. There are also a few lesbian graphic novels, which are generally appreciated by teenagers, though the specifically Young Adult titles are already in the list above.

Transgender YA Books
Like bisexual fiction, transgender, intersexed, and gender identity books are just as likely to be about girls as boys, if they're about any identity in particular. There's also no reason that a transgender or otherwise genderfluid teen can't also be lesbian, or think they are. There aren't many YA books on transgender people anyway, so they might as well be included here.
The full post about Transgender YA books (complete with summaries and a breakdown by identity): Transgender Young Adult Fiction (Also Genderqueer, Intersex, Cross- Dressing and So On) 
The quick booklist:

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  1. 1. This is an amazing list, just stating the obvious.
    2. The list says Keeping You a Secret is by Paula Boock, but if you go to the link it says it's by Julie Anne Peters. Small mistake. I read the book a while ago. It's really good.

  2. Thank you! And very much thank you - I got that link mixed up with Dare, Truth or Promise, when I was copy-pasting.

  3. You should consider adding The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson. It features two lesbian/questioning teens as main characters.

    1. I take back this comment as I found it on the other list.

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