Friday, January 20, 2012

Lesbian YA Fiction With A Non-Lesbian Main Character

A list of young adult books in which the lesbian character is the aunt, mother or other close female.
Living in Secret
by Cristina Salat
This is an interesting category of books to classify, sitting right on the cusp of being 'queer fiction'. The lesbianism of the other person is a major part of the story - but the main character is a straight teenager. But the lesbian character isn't just a supporting character, such as a friend who happens to be gay, but a significant plot person.

So they are a subcategory of 'lesbian YA' fiction, as they still tell the stories of teens coping with lesbianism, whether that involves coming to terms with a gay mother or just moving straight past that into stories of events involving lesbian friends or relatives.

 But we'll be leaving them out of the other lists of 'X Types of Lesbian YA Fiction', to avoid confusion.

9 and up
  • And Featuring Bailey Wellcom as the Biscuit from Little Blue Works  (female main character, mother) (Grade 4-6)
    • 12 year old Bailey moves with her mother from Arizona to a tiny village in New Mexico, where she meets a new friend and her mother falls in love.

10 and up
  • Equinox by Monte Killingsworth     (female main character, mother, adultery/divorce) (Grade 5-7)
    • 14 year old Autumn lives with her parents in Washington state, and is devastated when they plan to move from their quiet island to the mainland. In the course of trying to persuade them to stay, she discovers the real problem - her mother is having an affair with a woman.
  • Living in Secret by Cristina Salat  (female main character, mother & partner, divorce ) (Grade 5-7)
    • Following a divorce in which her father gained custody, 11 year old Amelia escapes to live under an assumed identity with her mother and her mother's girlfriend in San Francisco. 
  • From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson (male main character, mother) (Grade 7-9)
    • 13-14 year old African-American Melanin lives in Brooklyn with his single mother. When she explains she's a lesbian and in love, he has to come to terms with that, and the fact that his idea of normal isn't going to happen. 
  • Cissy Funk by Kim Taylor  (female main character, aunt) (Grade 7-9) 
    • Set during the Depression, 13 year old Cissy lives in Colorado with an older brother and an abusive mother. She is rescued by her delightful (and secretly lesbian) Aunt Vera, who attempts to find a better place for her, finally - after several hurdles - taking Cissy to live with her and her lover.

12 and up
  • (female main character, lesbian mother)
    • Bean and her best friend Henry are both blessed, or cursed, with the weirdest mothers in the whole town, and when Bean's grandfather dies, a whole pile of dysfunctional little secrets start emerging. Including that her mother is in love with her best friend. Not really the main focus, but it's there.
  • The Summer of Love by Debbie Drechsler (female main character, lesbian sister)
    • A graphic novel set in 1967 American suburbia, about a girl called Lily's adolescence and sexual awakening, and her younger sister's lesbian relationship.
  •  (Grade 8-12)
    • Kit has been Lynn's best friend and neighbour since they were eleven, but when Kit comes out as lesbian in high school, Lynn struggles to come to terms with this. She does, and throws herself into supporting Kit, but along the way encounters all kinds of prejudices, including towards her own interracial relationship with an Afircan American boy.
  • How I Fell in Love and Learned to Shoot Free Throws by Jon Ripslinger  (male main character, female love interest with lesbian parents) (Grade 9-12)
    • Danny falls hard for fellow basketball player, the gorgeous Angel, but they both have major secrets involving their parents. Angel's a test tube baby with lesbian mothers, while Danny's mother left for an ex while he was a baby. A story about honesty as much as it is about gay rights and other social issues.
  • Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee (female main character, lesbian mother)   (Grade 9-12)
    • 17 year old Shawn has played the perfect daughter for ten years, since her mother left for another woman. When her mother dies, Shawna is drawn into contact with her Jewish partner and their two sons, struggling to deal with her changing world view - while her father viciously fights to separate her, financially ruin the family and claims custody of one of the boys.
  • Talk to Me by Carol Dines  (various short stories - one relevant: male main character, lesbian mother) (Grade 8-12)
    • Six stories and a novella, including one story about a boy growing up in rural Minnesota with lesbian mothers.
  • Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters (male main character, lesbian mothers, divorce) (Grade 8-11)
    • Nick is the happy kid of two mothers, but struggles to cope when his mothers split up under the dual pressures of cancer and alcholism, leaving him with his birth mother and with no legal way to stay in contact with his other mother.  
  • Deliver Us from Evie by M. E. Kerr (a.k.a.  Marijane Meaker) (male main character, lesbian sister) (Ages 13 and up)
    • Told by her younger brother Parr, this story follows his life on a Missouri farm, watching his 17 year old sister Evie falling for a girl, while his parents remain oblivious, and his own first love - with a girl from a family of homophobic fundamentalists.
  • Name Me Nobody by Lois-Ann Yamanaka (female main character, lesbian friend, racism, body image) (Ages 13 and up)
    • 14-year-old Emi-Lou Kaya lives in Hawaii with her grandmother, has no real friends, and is overweight. One of the best parts of her life is her best friend Yvonne. But when Yvonne falls for an older girl, Emi-Lou is both jealous and horrified. 

Age Level: 15 and up
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy) by Libba Bray
    • A historical fiction fantasy set in 1895. Newly motherless Gemma Doyle is shipped off to England and a boarding school where spiritualism, magic, horror and friendship await her, as she and three new friends try and reinstate an Order of women who travelled to the spirit world. Two of these friends are in love, though this takes a while to come out and one ends up being evil.
    • Rebel Angels (Book 2)
    • The Sweet Far Thing  (Book 3)
    • *NB may fit better in the as-yet-unwritten 'generally LGBT friendly rather than actual lesbian fiction' list. Along with Tamora Pierce's books.

  • Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood by Melissa Hart (Coming of age memoir, Hispanic/white conflict, female main character, lesbian mother) (Older teens, adults)
    • Set in 1970s Southern California, this is the real life coming of age story of Melissa Hart, whose parents divorced when her mother left for another woman. It follows her experiences as she struggled to find herself, torn between her 'normal' overbearing father and the lively Latino culture that her mother embraced.
  • Out of the Shadows by Sue Hines (female main character, lesbian mother/foster mother, lesbian friend)  (Older teens, adults)
    • Australian 15 year old Rowanna's mother was killed by a drunk driver and she now lives with her mother's partner - someone whose existence she still isn't used to. She's still shaken up by this, when the new girl at school falls for her.
  • Secrets of Truth and Beauty by Megan Frazer  (female main character, lesbian sister, weight/body image issues) (Older teens, adults)
    • Overweight 17 year old Dara Cohen gets pulled out of school by her controlling parents when she creates an awareness project about body image issues. She contacts her estranged lesbian sister and goes to visit her on a Massachusetts farm that acts as a haven for lesbian women and other refugees from society. There she grows up, gets to know her sister and accepts herself.
  • Shockproof Sydney Skate by Marijane Meaker (also wrote under the pseudonyms Mary James, Vin Packer, Ann Aldrich and M. E. Kerr)  (male main character, lesbian mother, lesbian love interest) (Older teens, adults)
    • A classic of lesbian literature since it was published in 1972, this coming of age novel follows 17 year old Sydney Skate, a teenage boy who works in a petshop, memorises sex scenes to aid in his pursuit of women and knows that his mother's secretly gay. Which is all fine, until he loses 'the girl of his dreams' to his mother.

See the full list of lesbian young adult fiction and buy books from the non-lesbian main character subcategory of lesbian YA fiction in the GLB Amazon store

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