What We Missed: July-December 2015

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What We Missed in June

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June 7th – Breaking Into Cars by Emery C. Walters (G, T).

June 23th – Summer Love Anthology by Various Authors (LGBTQ).

June 25th – Blue Jeans and Sweatshirts (Book Four) by Jo Ramsey (L).

July

About a Girl

 

July 2nd – Carnival Chattanooga (Book Two) by Zoe Lynne (G).

July 7th You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison (Gay secondary character).

July 9th – Beneath the Scales by Aurora Peppermint (G).

July 14thAsher’s Out (The Asher Trilogy #3) by Elizabeth Wheeler (G).

July 14thAbout a Girl by Sarah McCarry (B,L,T).

July 16thFox-Hat and Neko by August Li (B,G,L).

July 23rd –  Lucky Linus by Gene Gant (G).

August

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August 3rd –The Body by RJ Martin (G).

August 6th Living with the Fall by Hannah Thompson (G).

August 18th A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz (B,Q,).

August 20th – Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase (G).

August 25thAnother Day by David Levithan (Q).

September

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September 1stCut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian (B).

September 8th – Honor Girl (Graphic Novel) by Maggie Thrash (L).

September 8thFans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (G,B).

September 8thLizard Radio by Pat Schmatz (Q,T).

September 15th – Breaking Up Point by Brian McNamara (G).

September 17th – Hostage by Cheryl Headford (G).

September 22nd – The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (B).

September 27th – Better Than Her By Erica Yang (L, B).

October

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October 1st – Banished Sons of Poseidon by Andrew J. Peters (G).

October 1st – carefully everywhere descending by L.B. Bedford (L).

October 6thCarry On by Rainbow Rowell (G).

October 11th – The Porcelain Carnival (Masks Book #7)By Hayden Thorne (G).

October 15th – Aspect of Winter by Tom Early (2nd Edition) (G).

October 15th – Work Boots and Tees by Jo Ramsey (G).

October 18th – Love and the Undead by Francis Gideon (G).

October 20th – Willful Machines by Tim Floreen (G).

October 22thHarmonious Hearts 2015 Anthology (B,G,L,Queer Spectrum).

October 25thA Rare and Beautiful Thing By Emery C. Walters (L,T).

October 27th What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (L,GQ,T).

October 29th – Gudsriki (Valhalla Book Three) by Ari Bach (L).

November

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November 8th – Private by Matthew J. Metzger (G).

November 12th – Loving Luke (Book Two) by RJ Astruc (G).

November 12th – The Midnight Gardener (Book One) by RG Thomas (G).

November 18th Almost Straight by Justice Serai (L).

November 26th – Crush by Caitlin Ricci (G, Queer Spectrum).

December

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December 2nd – Rustic Stars by J. Luis Licea (G).

December 3rd – A Passing Phase by L. Paul Devlin (G).

December 3rd –  A Little Bit Langston By Andrew Demcak (G).

December 17th – Onwaachige the Dreamer (Sequel to A Scout is Brave) by Jay Jordan Hawke (G).

December 20th – The Italian Word for Kisses by Matthew Metzger (G).

December 31st – Angel Radio by A.M. Blaushild (L).

You can send us comments, suggestions or titles we might have missed at: nadia@gayya.org or tweet us @thegayYA with the info!

Giveaway: Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

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The story follows the unlikely friendship of two young women forged via fan fiction and message boards, and is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts.

Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.

We’re so excited to be hosting a giveaway of the marvelous book, Gena/Finn!

If you’re like me, when you reread the Harry Potter series, you become irritable and spacey, and can’t focus on anything besides the next page. That’s what reading Gena/Finn was like for me. I could not put it down, and when I had to I was in a haze of still being stuck in the world of the book. It was just that engrossing.

One thing I think readers should know beforehand is that the queerness in Gena/Finn is very ambiguous. Not in a way that it’s easy to miss, but the character’s relationship is never clarified, and neither of their sexualities are ever labelled. While I would’ve appreciated a bit more discussion of it, the ambiguity of it actually rang true to my experience of relationships in online fandoms, so I didn’t mind it too much. But I think readers should be aware of the ambiguity beforehand, in case that’s not their cup of tea!

All of that said, I love this book, and I think most people involved in any form of fan culture will too.

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Enter here for a chance to win Gena/Finn! A winner will be chosen on May 25th.

This giveaway is hosted by Chronicle Books, the publisher of Gena/Finn. GayYA will not receive anyone’s information. Find the official rules of the giveaway here.

GayYA at Book Expo America

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Hey there! GayYA admin here. I am going to be at Book Expo America (BEA) and Book Con in Chicago this coming week. Are you going to be there? I would LOVE to connect with you! Send me an email at vee@gayya.org, or get in touch with me via my personal Twitter. :)

I’d especially love to connect with you if you’re an author of LGBTQIA+ YA! I’m doing a series of short 3-5 question interviews with authors of LGBTQIA+ YA to feature on the site. Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in setting up– email me at vee@gayya.org.

I’m SO thrilled to be going, and I want to say a huge thank you to everybody who made this possible! Your support has meant more than I can say.

See ya’ll in Chicago!

-Vee

 

May Book of the Month: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

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if i was your girl

A big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself–including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Will the truth cost Amanda her new life–and her new love?

If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different–and a love story that everyone will root for.

This has been a MUCH anticipated release for us here at GayYA. Why? If I Was Your Girlis about a transgender girl written by a transgender woman. (And sidenote: the model on the cover is transgender, as is the audiobook narrator. Amazing, right?)

If I Was Your Girl is our Book of the Month & #GayYABookClub pick for May. GayYA hosts a monthly online book club through Twitter and Tumblr, and we’re always looking for new people to join in! Come meet fellow LGBTQIA+ YA lovers as we squee, analyze, and discuss new LGBTQIA+ releases. You can post updates on your reading progress on Twitter at#GayYABookClub and Tumblr at #GayYA Book Club. The book club will culminate in a final Twitter chat on May 25th at 8pm EST.

This is a book you don’t want to miss. Buy it today, or ask your local library to order a copy!

Add If I Was Your Girl on Goodreads

Book List: Asian Characters in LGBTQIA+ YA

Welcome back to our book list series! We get many asks on tumblr for books with a certain identity/genre/etc, and we’ve started posting our replies on the blog as well as on tumblr. If you are looking for a certain kind of LGBTQIA+ book, send us an ask on tumblr! Here is the ask we got this week:

Anonymous said: Sorry for the very specific ask but if you ever have time, could you possibly list s few books that has queer Asians (particularly females) as protagonists? If that’s too specific im sorry!

Please don’t apologize! It’s a joy to put these lists together, and we absolutely love getting asks like this. We were able to put together a list of 27 titles with LGBTQIA+ Asian characters in YA. Thank you so much to our followers on Twitter who provided so many fantastic recommendations!

Disclaimer: We have not read many of these books and therefore cannot speak to the quality of writing or representation. Please take this list as “everything we could find” rather than “what we recommend.” (That said, if you’ve read one of these books and believe it to be problematic or offensive, please leave a comment or email me at vee.gayya@gmail.com)

Realistic:

Flipping For Him by Jeff Adams

Flipping for HimFinding a guy was easy. Keeping him might be harder than running up a tree.

Kevin McCollum is a high school junior with the usual things on his mind: getting good grades, having fun, and finding a boyfriend. The last one was eluding him until he noticed the “parkour guy.” After several days of pretending to study while watching the attractive teen jump on rocks, run up trees, and do flips, Shin finally comes over to introduce himself. As they start dating, Kevin should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy.

Shin’s parents only want their son to date Japanese boys. When cultures clash and pressures mount, Kevin has no idea how to subvert traditions and Shin’s parents to keep the boy he cares about.

Kevin will need to clear some tricky obstacles to make his modern love story a reality.

 

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Under the LightsJosh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls … opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved … and the person she never imagined she could.

 

Vanished by E.E. Cooper

VanishedKalah knows better than to fall for Beth Taylor…but that doesn’t stop her from falling hard and falling fast, heart first into a sea of complications.

Then Beth vanishes. She skips town on her eighteenth birthday, leaving behind a flurry of rumors and a string of broken hearts. Not even Beth’s best friend, Britney, knows where she went. Beth didn’t even tell Kalah good-bye.

One of the rumors links Beth to Britney’s boyfriend, and Kalah doesn’t want to believe the betrayal. But Brit clearly believes it—and before Kalah can sort out the truth, Britney is dead.

When Beth finally reaches out to Kalah in the wake of Brit’s suicide, Kalah wants to trust what Beth tells her. But she’s swiftly realizing that nothing here is as it seems. Kalah’s caught in the middle of a deadly psychological game, and only she can untangle the deceptions and lies to reveal the unthinkable truth.

 

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

If You Could Be MineSeventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

 

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should FeelHigh-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual.

Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.

 

Bright Lines by Nandwi Tandini Islam

Bright LinesA vibrant debut novel, set in Brooklyn and Bangladesh, Bright Linesfollows three young women and one family struggling to make peace with secrets and their past.

For as long as she can remember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents’ murder, and afflicted with hallucinations at dusk, she’s always felt more at ease in nature than with people. She traveled from Bangladesh to Brooklyn to live with the Saleems: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi, and their beautiful daughter, Charu, her complete opposite. One summer, when Ella returns home from college, she discovers Charu’s friend Maya—an Islamic cleric’s runaway daughter—asleep in her bedroom. 

As the girls have a summer of clandestine adventure and sexual awakenings, Anwar—owner of a popular botanical apothecary—has his own secrets, threatening his thirty-year marriage. But when tragedy strikes, the Saleems find themselves blamed. To keep his family from unraveling, Anwar takes them on a fated trip to Bangladesh, to reckon with the past, their extended family, and each other.

 

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Love is the Higher LawFirst there is a Before, and then there is an After….

The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

David Levithan has written a novel of loss and grief, but also one of hope and redemption as his characters slowly learn to move forward in their lives, despite being changed forever.

 

Ball Caps and Khakis by Jo Ramsey

Ball Caps and KhakisMan-Shik “Manny” Park, grandson of strict Korean immigrants, is trying to protect his friend Jim Frankel from bullies who don’t think Jim should be allowed to live in Ludington, Michigan, let alone have any friends. Manny is determined to stand by Jim, even if Jim isn’t willing to defend himself.

But Jim’s problems aren’t the only ones facing Manny. Against his parents’ wishes, Manny yearns to be an artist. He’s also more attracted to guys than girls, and he’s asexual. Only Jim knows these secrets, and Manny knows a few of Jim’s too.

Bonded by their shared confidences, Manny supports Jim after he’s accused of sending explicit Facebook messages to middle school girls, including Manny’s sister. While Manny sets out to prove Jim’s innocence, things go from bad to worse. Soon after the incident, Manny and Jim receive intimidating messages, and Jim is put in danger. To help his friend, Manny risks everything to try to learn who’s behind the threats and why they want to destroy Jim’s life.

 

The Necessary Hunger by Nina Revoyr

The Necessary HungerAs a star basketball player in her last year of high school, Nancy Takahiro’s life is about to change forever. Faced with the college recruitment process and unsure of where her skill will take her, Nancy is not prepared for meeting Raina Webber, an All-State shooting guard whose passion for basketball is matched only by her talent.

When Nancy’s father and Raina’s mother move in together, the girls are faced with the challenge of negotiating their already intense friendship and rivalry. As Nancy’s love for Raina grows and both prepare to leave inner city neighborhood that has nurtured them, they find themselves looking toward a future that is no longer easily defined.

Set against a backdrop of racial tension between the Asian American and African American communities of Los Angeles and infused with tenderness and passion. The Necessary Hungerexplores not only the intricacies of the game of basketball, but also the very nature of the relationships young women create in the face of the odds that are stacked against them.

 

Boyfriends With Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez

Boyfriends with GirlfriendsLance has always known he was gay, but he’s never had a real boyfriend. Sergio is bisexual, but his only real relationship was with a girl. When the two of them meet, they have an instant connection — but will it be enough to overcome their differences?

Allie’s been in a relationship with a guy for the last two years — but when she meets Kimiko, she can’t get her out of her mind. Does this mean she’s gay? Does it mean she’s bi? Kimiko, falling hard for Allie, and finding it impossible to believe that a gorgeous girl like Allie would be into her, is willing to stick around and help Allie figure it out.

Boyfriends with Girlfriends is Alex Sanchez at his best, writing with a sensitive hand to portray four very real teens striving to find their places in the world — and with each other.

 

Talking of Muskaan by Himanjali Sankar

talking of muskaanWhat would you do if you didn’t fit in?

Muskaan is in hospital, fighting for her life.

Three classmates—her former best friend Aaliya, the hottie Prateek, and the class topper Subhojoy—talk about Muskaan, and themselves. About school, home and the larger world, the school bus and the basketball court; about secrets that become burdens. And through their stories are revealed the twists and turns that drove Muskaan to try to kill herself.

Funny and tragic by turns, Talking of Muskaan is a warm, moving novel about life and death and the young people caught in between.

 

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai

Swimming in the Monsoon SeaThe setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life “before,” when his doting mother was still alive. Amrith’s holiday plans seem unpromising: he wants to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin arrives from Canada and Amrith’s ordered life is storm-tossed. He finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy.Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed.

Shyam Selvadurai’s brilliant novels, Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens,have garnered him international acclaim. In this, his first young adult novel, he explores first love with clarity, humor, and compassion.

 

Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki

SkimHeartbreakingly funny, moving and vibrantly drawn, Skim is an extraordinary book–a smart and sensitive graphic novel of the highest literary and artistic quality, by and about young women.

“Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls’ school. When Skim’s classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. As concerned guidance counselors provide lectures on the “cycle of grief,” and the popular clique starts a new club (Girls Celebrate Life!) to bolster school spirit, Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression.

And falling in love only makes things worse…

Suicide, depression, love, being gay or not, crushes, cliques, and finding a way to be your own fully human self–are all explored in this brilliant collaboration by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. An edgy, keenly observed and poignant glimpse into the heartache of being young.

 

(You) Set Me On Fire by Mariko Tamaki

(You) Set Me on FireThis is a story about college, about fire and also about love.

Allison Lee is seventeen and off to college in the fall. So far, she’s been in love once (total catastrophe) and on fire twice (also pretty bad). Both love and fire have left their scars.

Looking a little more burnt chicken and a little less radiant phoenix, Allison takes up residence in Dylan Hall (a.k.a. Dyke Hall) at St. Joseph’s College, where she discovers the true gift of freshman year: the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Miles away from the high school she’s happy to leave behind, her all-female dorm is a strange new world, home to new social circles and challenges. Allison still feels like the odd girl out…until Shar appears. Beautiful and blinding, Shar quickly becomes the sun at the centre of Allison’s universe, drawing her in with dangerous allure.

Will Allison get burned again? And, if she does, what kind of scars will she earn this time?

 

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

AfterworldsDarcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

 

Money Boy by Paul Yee

Money BoyRay Liu knows he should be happy. He lives in a big suburban house with all the latest electronic gadgets, and even finds plenty of time to indulge in his love of gaming. He needs the escape. It’s tough getting grades that will please his army veteran father, when speaking English is still a struggle. And he can’t quite connect with his gang at high school — immigrants like himself but who seem to have adjusted to North American life more easily. Then comes his father accesses Ray’s internet account, and discovers Ray has been cruising gay websites. Before Ray knows what has hit him, his belongings have been thrown on the front lawn, and he has been kicked out. Angry, defiant, Ray heads to downtown Toronto. In short order he is robbed, beaten up and seduced, and he learns the hard realities of life on the street. Could he really sell himself for sex? Lots of people use their bodies to make money — athletes, actors, models, pop singers. If no one gets hurt, why should anyone care?

 

Speculative:

To Stand in the Light by Kayla Basheto stand in the light

Answering a distress call in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, teenage half-demon Shadow finds a scene of carnage where their superheroine foster parents once lived. Only one thing holds them back from seeking death: the unexpected discovery of a small, scruffy girl. Bean, an acid-green-haired high school dropout, is feral and whimsical by turns. As they travel home, she slowly grows to trust Shadow, and wriggles into their closed-off heart.

Dangerous secrets and painful memories drive Shadow away from New York again and again, but their friendship with Bean only grows. When they return home, though, it’s to a grown-up Bean who finds herself falling for her former mentor- and tumbling headlong into much bigger trouble than anyone suspects…

A Hero at the End of the World by Erin Claiborne

a hero at the end of the worldSixteen year-old Ewan Mao knows one thing for certain: according to prophecy, it’s his destiny to kill the evil tyrant whose dark reign has terrorized Britain. Although he’s just a normal boy, deep down Ewan is confident that he has exactly what it takes to be a hero. But when Ewan’s big moment comes, he freezes. His best friend, the clever and talented Oliver Abrams, defeats the villain for him, and Ewan’s bright future crumbles before his eyes.

Five years later, Oliver has a job as an Unusual in the government’s Serious Magical Crimes Agency, the life he and Ewan always dreamed of. But a routine investigation leads him and his partner, Sophie Stuart, to uncover a dangerous and powerful cult… one that seems to have drawn his former best friend into a plot to end the world.

A deftly plotted, hysterically funny take on Chosen One narratives, A Hero at the End of the World expertly walks the fine line between satire and sincerity. Its sensitive depiction of a broken friendship and wry take-down of unfairly great expectations will appeal to all readers of modern fantasy.

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clarebane chronicles

Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.

This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.

 

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

not your sidekicWelcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether. (Expected publication: September 8th 2016 by Duet Books)

 

Seven Tears At High Tide by C.B. Lee

The sea holds many secrets …seven tears at high tide

Kevin Luong walks to the ocean’s edge with a broken heart. Remembering a legend his mother told him, he lets seven tears fall into the sea. “I just want one summer—one summer to be happy and in love.”

Instead, he finds himself saving a mysterious boy from the Pacific—a boy who later shows up on his doorstep professing his love. What he doesn’t know is that Morgan is a selkie, drawn to answer Kevin’s wish.

As they grow close, Morgan is caught between the dangers of the human world and his legacy in the selkie community to which he must return at summer’s end.

 

Huntress by Malinda Lo

huntressNature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo’s highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

 

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

the abyss surrounds usFor Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

 

Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

shallow gravesBreezy remembers leaving the party: the warm, wet grass under her feet, her cheek still stinging from a slap to her face. But when she wakes up, scared and pulling dirt from her mouth, a year has passed and she can’t explain how.

Nor can she explain the man lying at her grave, dead from her touch, or why her heartbeat comes and goes. She doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past.

Haunted by happy memories from her life, Breezy sets out to find answers in the gritty, threatening world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight, and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she discovers is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Webcomics:

 

Valley of the Silk Sky by Dylan Edwards

Valley of the Silk Sky is a queer YA science fiction webcomic, written and drawn by Dylan Edwards. VoSS chronicles the adventures of a crew of queer scientists as they search for new medicinals and try to avoid being eaten in the often-dangerous Pocalo Valley.

The comic updates on Wednesdays, with informational world-building posts in between each chapter.

 

Witchy Comic by Ariel Ries

In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Those that are strong enough are conscripted by the Witch Guard, who enforce the law in peacetime and protect the land during war. However, those with hair judged too long are pronounced enemies of the kingdom, and annihilated. This is called a witch burning.

Witchy is the story of a young witch named Nyneve. Terrified of the Guard, and of being enlisted, she hides her long hair from everyone but her mother.

Witchy updates every Monday (or Tuesday, depending where you live).

 

Some Did Rest by Niki Smith

“In the aftermath, the government declared that parents who had lost their only child would receive free treatment to reverse vasectomies and tubal ligations conducted by family planning authorities.”

Born under a strict one-child policy, a generation of children grow up in the shadow of siblings they never knew, and with whom they can never hope to compete.

This comic was originally inspired by the thousands of students killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. China’s “one child policy” is most well known, but more than a few countries have imposed population control and compulsory sterilization on their citizens. Some Did Rest explores the lasting impact of a natural disaster in such a society.

SOME DID REST updates every Monday.

 

Moon Cakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Long-lost childhood crushes Nova Huang and Tam Lang have reunited for the first time in ten years. They have a lot more to deal with this time than just being the only two Asian kids in school (who also happen to both have magical abilities). The comic focuses on their relationship as they struggle through bills, family, and weird horse demons in ways that only a witch and a werewolf can.

 

Triadin – The Education of Rogar

 

Do you know of another YA book or graphic novel with a major LGBTQIA+ Asian character? Drop your recommendations in the comments below!

Why We Need Editors (AKA Writing While Demi-Sexual)

by Janine A. Southard

My editor gently reminded me that not all my teen characters can be ace. And she’s right.

As someone on the asexual spectrum, it doesn’t occur to me to put sexual tension (or interest) between strangers into my books during the drafting phase. That’s the drafting phase, though. In editing, I can’t assume all the characters will be just like me. Sure, some characters may never have romance plot lines, but many will have sexual thoughts.

For instance, I once wrote a novel where my teenage protagonists find themselves in a brothel. (Hive & Heist) On the third draft, my editor gently mentioned that at least one of my characters would consider the wares on display. Part of me was happy to add that bit of verisimilitude, and part of me felt like a sell-out. But, really, I had plenty of characters left who had better things to do (e.g., learn knife fighting), so it wasn’t all of them.

And that’s the crux of writing while ace or demi (or bi or homo or trans), we can be sure to add characters just like us. But we don’t get to assume the mainstream doesn’t exist in the same way it can forget we do. I mean, we can but it reduces verisimilitude.

I like to think, though, that by adding characters who are ace-spectrum, more readers will see that as a normal state that coexists with the mainstream. I once had a reader tell me that he’d never heard the term “ace” for asexual before reading one of my books. (This one isn’t YA, but does have an explicitly asexual character: Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story.)

That’s a tiny foothold on the path to mainstream acceptance.

JaninePic
Janine A. Southard is the IPPY award-winning author of Queen & Commander (and other books in The Hive Queen Saga). She lives in Seattle, WA, where she writes speculative fiction novels, novellas, and short stories… and reads them aloud to her cat. You can hang out with Janine online, usually on Twitter and periodically on her website with free fiction and novel inspirations.

Book List: Bisexual Boys in YA

Welcome to our new series of book lists! We get many asks on tumblr for books with a certain identity/genre/etc, and starting now we will be posting our replies on the blog as well as on tumblr. If you are looking for a certain kind of LGBTQIA+ book, send us an ask on tumblr!

Anonymous asked: Do you know of any books with bi male main characters? Six of Crows is the only one I know of and so far that part has been a pretty small section of the book.

 

Disclaimer: We have not read all of these books, and therefore cannot be sure of the quality of the representation. If you believe one of these books is problematic, let us know in a comment or an email (vee@gayya.org).

Realistic Fiction:

 

Bi-Normal by M.G. Higginsbi_normal

Brett Miller is one of the kings of Elkhead High. Everyone knows the kings rule the school. Football stars. Pretty girls. The in-crowd. Brett and his buddies are the tormentors; nobody messes with them. Then Brett meets Zach …”It’s a crush. I’m crushing on a friggin’ guy. That’s sick. And I don’t know what to do about it. … I want these feelings to go away. At the same time, I don’t want them to go away.” And his life is turned inside out. Everything he knows about himself is wrong. And he doesn’t have anywhere to turn for answers. He’s heard the word “bi” before; it has nothing to do with him. But in his gut he knows. And he doesn’t have a clue what to do about it.

 

Collide by J.R. Lenk

collideBeing bisexual is cool now—unless you’re a boy. Or so it seems to invisible fifteen-year-old Hazard James. But when he falls in with bad apple Jesse Wesley, Hazard is suddenly shoved into the spotlight. Jesse and his friends introduce him to the underworld of teenage life: house parties, hangovers, the advantages of empty homes, and reputation by association. So what if his old friends don’t get it? So what if some people love to hate him? Screw gossip and high school’s secret rules. There’s just something about walking into a room and having all eyes on him when just last year nobody noticed him at all.

For a while Hazard basks in the attention, and before he realizes the depth of the waters he’s wading, he and Jesse strike up a “friends with benefits” routine. It could be something more, but what self-respecting teenage boy would admit it? Not Jesse—and so not Hazard, either. Not until it’s too late. Hazard and Jesse have collided, and Hazard’s life will never be the same.

 

Lucky by Eddie de Oliveira

LuckyA clever debut about love, sex, and everything in between, for anyone who’s ever fallen for a friend (come on, admit it)

Sam is a teen boy who’s attracted to both boys and girls. He doesn’t know what to call himself or where he fits in. Then he meets Toby, another boy who likes both boys and girls. Are they destined to be just friends, more than friends, or less than friends? And what would happen if they were attracted to the same girl?

Love comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes all at once. In his brilliant, funny, and heartfelt debut, Eddie de Oliveira shows us there’s more to life than being a wallflower or being knocked out by nunga-nungas.

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

ari and danteThis Printz Honor Book is a “tender, honest exploration of identity” (Publishers Weekly) that distills lyrical truths about family and friendship.

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.

NOTE: Neither Ari or Dante identify as bi in the book, but Ari talks about being attracted to girls, and reads as bisexual to many readers (including me!). :)

 

Boyfriends With Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez

boyfriends with girlfriendsLance has always known he was gay, but he’s never had a real boyfriend. Sergio is bisexual, but his only real relationship was with a girl. When the two of them meet, they have an instant connection–but will it be enough to overcome their differences?

Allie’s been in a relationship with a guy for the last two years–but when she meets Kimiko, she can’t get her out of her mind. Does this mean she’s gay? Does it mean she’s bi? Kimiko, falling hard for Allie, and finding it impossible to believe that a gorgeous girl like Allie would be into her, is willing to stick around and help Allie figure it out.

Boyfriends with Girlfriends is Alex Sanchez at his best, writing with a sensitive hand to portray four very real teens striving to find their places in the world–and with each other.

 

Rainbow High Trilogy by Alex Sanchez

rainbow boysJason Carrillo is a jock with a steady girlfriend, but he can’t stop dreaming about sex…with other guys.

Kyle Meeks doesn’t look gay, but he is. And he hopes he never has to tell anyone — especially his parents.

Nelson Glassman is “out” to the entire world, but he can’t tell the boy he loves that he wants to be more than just friends.

Three teenage boys, coming of age and out of the closet. In a revealing debut novel that percolates with passion and wit, Alex Sanchez follows these very different high-school seniors as their struggles with sexuality and intolerance draw them into a triangle of love, betrayal, and ultimately, friendship.

 

Teenage Rewrite by Brandon Williams

teenage rewriteEvery year millions of teenagers graduate from high school, embrace adulthood, and go on to lead happy, productive lives. That’s great and all, but Justin Davis thinks this is a complete load.

Withdrawn and perpetually anxious, Justin begins senior year completely overwhelmed by thoughts of life after high school. Up until now he’s been able to coast through life without any complications. He’s managed to pass all his classes, he has just enough friends to not eat alone at lunch and, quite frankly, he’s come to accept things just as they are: dismal. But after seventeen years of coasting, Justin meets two guys determined to ruin everything.

With constant meddling from his nosy new friend Travis, Justin finally has to learn to own his bisexuality, connect with friends he didn’t know he had, and even get closer to his crush, Evan—a shy yet equally meddlesome junior.

In this YA, coming-of-age novel, follow one boy’s struggle to embrace life’s complications and realize that ignoring life is much more difficult than living it. Especially when best friends don’t leave you any other choice.

 

Speculative Fiction:

 

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

the summer princeA heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Tres shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Tres will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.

Read GayYA’s review of The Summer Prince!

 

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

ink exchangeUnbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Courts has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.

Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.

The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . . .

 

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitzteeth

Be careful what you believe in.

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.

Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

 

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

grasshopper jungleSixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He’s stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it’s up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

 

Coda by Emma Trevayne

Coda Final CoverKaz_Coda-cvrEver since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem—the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid.

Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?

Graphic Novels:

 

Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen

young avengersLegacy isn’t a dirty word…but it’s an irrelevant one. It’s not important what our parents did. It matters what WE do. Someone has to save the world. You’re someone. Do the math. The critically acclaimed team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie reinvent the teen super hero comic for the 21st century, uniting Wiccan, Hulkling and Kate “Hawkeye” Bishop with Kid Loki, Marvel Boy and Ms. America. No pressure, right? As a figure from Loki’s past emerges, Wiccan makes a horrible mistake that comes back to bite everyone on their communal posteriors. Fight scenes! Fake IDs! And plentiful feels! (aka “meaningful emotional character beats” for people who aren’t on tumblr.) Young Avengers is as NOW! as the air in your lungs, and twice as vital. Hyperbole is the BEST! THING! EVER!

NOTE: The bisexual guy does not appear until the second volume, Alternative Culture. There are, however, lesbian & gay characters in volume one. :)

 

Do you know of another YA book or graphic novel with a major bisexual guy? Drop your recommendations in the comments below!

On Not Being a Real Teenager

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week Series: Day 8 – Previous Posts: Introduction to Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week SeriesThe Excitement and Frustration of Being “Alone”Actual LoveBeing Surrounded by Something You’ve Never Quite UnderstoodOn Writing Aromantic Characters in YADiscovering AromanticismBroken, Villains, or PunishmentOn Aromantic Visibility in YA

by Ren Oliveira

If you asked me to summarize what it felt like growing up as an aromantic person, a single memory would come to my mind immediately: my friends talking about boys and crushes and romance while I sat at the edge of our group in complete silence.

This memory would come with an acute feeling of awkwardness, of hey, maybe I should be interested in this followed by a but what should I say? I would steal glances at them, trying to think of something, anything, that would keep the conversation going only to give up seconds later, sighing, and turn my attention to whatever book was in my lap. It happened often.

Back then it felt like everyone was reading the same script, but mine was somehow wrong, with words out of order and phrases that didn’t make much sense. It was still possible to understand it, of course, but it required effort and concentration, and at the end of the day it still confused me. Something was missing, and I didn’t know what it was.

Growing up reading YA felt more or less the same.

At first, I didn’t even know that YA books existed. Here in Brazil they exploded thanks to Twilight when I was 13 or 14, so adult books were all I had for years (I started reading a lot pretty early) and my favorite genre has always been fantasy. In comparison, YA books were much more welcoming, with tons of girls as the protagonists back when I still thought I was girl. I didn’t feel like a complete intruder anymore.

But that awkward feeling was still there, nagging at me as I read about people falling in love over and over again, about how romantic love was so very important. The girls I had started to identify with after years of reading only books about boys and men always distanced themselves from me in end, and I couldn’t see myself in them anymore. I had to squint and to concentrate to understand the script. It left me tired and dissatisfied.

I wasn’t as welcome as I thought I was, in the end.

I can’t remember the first time I heard that teens are really intense, full of hormones, or that teens fall in love all the time and are extremely dramatic about it, but by the time I was a teen myself, that message had already wormed its way into my mind. And it was never true for me; being asexual as well as aromantic, my teenager years were… calm. Quiet. There were no crushes on classmates or teachers, no love triangles (or love interests), and almost no drama. And, somehow, I felt like I was wasting every single moment of them.

I wasn’t enjoying my teenager years (and, you guys, they don’t come back!). I wasn’t living my life. I would regret it later, people told me, because I wasn’t being a real teen. I had no idea of what to do – how does one even become a real teen, anyway? –, and so I waited and hoped something would change. Needless to say, it never did.

Nowadays, though, I see a similar message coming from some people on the YA community when YA is criticized for (supposedly) having too much romance. Teens are like that, they say, love triangles or just falling in love is what it means to be a teenager. And sure, for some it is, but I was a teen too. I turn 20 this month. It wasn’t that long ago. I can still remember it very well and there wasn’t any romance or any crushes. This lack of romantic feelings didn’t make any less of a teen.

And teens like me are everywhere. Some of us will never fall in love, others will do so only under specific circumstances, but every aromantic person’s experiences are different from what is usually seen in mainstream media. I, for one, still love romance. I still have lots of ships and I still read tons of fanfiction, but there is a dissonance. I can’t and won’t ever understand crushes or love at first sight, but give me a demiromantic character falling in love or aromantic character in a queerplatonic relationship and I’ll be the happiest person on the planet. Others dislike romance and don’t want to have anything to do with it, and it’s okay. Our experiences are valid, and they matter.

Sometimes I wonder how different my teen years would have been if I had found a single aromantic character in the books I read. What it would be like to read about a teen who felt just like me, and still saved the world. Maybe I would’ve stopped waiting and hoping something would change. Maybe I wouldn’t have cared when people told me, it will change when you get into high school, and then when I got into high school, it will change when you get into college, as if there was something fundamentally wrong with who I was or how I felt.

Now that I’m in college they kind of don’t know what to do with me or what to tell me, but that’s fine. I know now what was missing. It was just a word, but some words are powerful. Some words change how you see yourself and how you see the world. Some make everything right, or just right enough that the script doesn’t seem as confusing anymore.

Aromantic was one of these words for me. It wasn’t an ending, something that solved all of my problems, but it was a beginning. And, sometimes, just a beginning is enough.

Ren Oliveira is a nonbinary Brazilian aspiring writer of fantasy who is currently majoring in Psychology. Ze is aromantic and asexual, and a fan of elves, angels and dragons. You can find zir on Twitter at @_renoliveira.

On Aromantic Visibility in YA

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week Series: Day 7 – Previous Posts: Introduction to Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week SeriesThe Excitement and Frustration of Being “Alone”Actual LoveBeing Surrounded by Something You’ve Never Quite UnderstoodOn Writing Aromantic Characters in YADiscovering AromanticismBroken, Villains, or Punishment

by Laya

It seems these days that almost every single YA book needs to have a romantic subplot, and it’s rather exhausting. Especially when so many of them are straight/white/cis. I’m not saying romance in fiction is bad – portrayals of all kinds of romantic relationships and experiences are definitely important – I just wish it wasn’t seen as necessary in every single narrative. When it makes sense in the story, romance can be a great addition, but so many stories would be just as good without it. There are so many other things that can happen in people’s lives that create conflict and character development! But ‘happily ever after’ seems to mean ‘happily in a romantic relationship’.

It’s not just representation of aro characters that is important, it’s also showing that romantic love itself isn’t more valuable than any other kind of love. Books that focus on platonic relationships, showing that romantic love isn’t needed for everyone, is so important for all readers, not just those on the aromantic spectrum. Little things like saying ‘oh no, we’re just friends’ (as if friendship is a lesser kind of relationship than romance), equating love with humanity (sure, it might be referring to all kinds of love, but usually that’s not specified), or having every single character ‘end up with someone’ at the end of a book are all things that a lot of people don’t even notice – but to an aromantic (and many asexuals), these things stand out. Including aromantic characters in your writing is great (and desperately, desperately needed) but that’s only one step – it’s just as important to be aware of the amatonormativity in other aspects of storytelling. A great example of being aware of this is in Kayla Bashe’s To Stand in the Light:

She had to make them realize that even though she was small and funny, she was truly grown up. That she had a woman’s feelings- and a woman’s desires. Well, the type of feelings and desire that happened to an allosexual, alloromantic woman, at least.

Obviously adding that kind of thing isn’t going to work every time, but it’s so much nicer to read than if it had been lacking that third sentence.

Another example of a book that doesn’t have an (explicitly stated) aromantic character, but still has some relevant discussion of amatonormativity (and heteronormativity) is Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell. This is a Cinderella storytelling, and although there is some romance between her and the prince, she ultimately realises they would be better as friends, and that the love she had from other characters was just as (if not more) important.

All the things I’d learned from novels, from Faerie tales […] had taught me that the love I’d thought I’d found in Fin was the best kind to be had. That the reason behind all of life and all of love in the first place was to find someone, love him, and let that love become the foundation for the rest if your life. […] But what was I without that ending? No less me, no less myself. No less loved than I had ever been, not really.

But of course, representation of actual aromantic characters is a much more direct contribution to aromantic visibility. Aromantic characters are almost unheard of in YA (or any) fiction. The few that exist are almost all either done unintentionally, or it’s as a part of asexuality. Neither of these are necessarily bad, but the word ‘aromantic’ and explicit discussion of aromanticism are almost unheard of in fiction.

Some books, such as Clariel or The Fire’s Stone, have aromantic characters that seem to be unintentional – as if the author thought ‘it suits this character’s story to have them not interested in romance’ rather than them actually knowing about aromanticism (and asexuality)*. I do love both these books, but their aromanticism does read as a little too tied to other character traits. Because there’s so little other representation, this could be misleading. Other characters are explicitly asexual, but their aromanticism is implied. Again, this can be a case of the authors not being educated enough, or just wanting to keep it simple, but it can imply they’re the same thing. Which they’re not.

The problem is that there’s almost no intentional aromantic representation in YA – or any books at all. In fact, the only aromantic spectrum characters I can think of written by an aromantic author are Isis and Alex from the Shape Shifter Chronicles by Lauren Jankowski. The only one I know using the word aromantic is Make Much of Me by Kayla Bashe. There are so many characters who are almost aromantic-spectrum. Characters who seem aro but then they find ‘the one’ (which could mean they’re demiromantic or grey-a, but it usually just reads like it was inevitable, and therefore is for all aromantics), characters who just don’t have any romantic subplot or mention of it around them, and of course the robots/aliens/demons who are ‘aromantic’ because of their species (which is not always bad, but in many cases implies – or outright states – that romantic love = humanity). With just a little bit of discussion of the aromantic spectrum in-text, so many of these characters could count as proper aromantic representation! But because there isn’t, we’re only left with ‘almost’s and ‘maybe’s. Saying ‘we need more aromantic characters like x’ is almost pointless, because we need representation of pretty much every kind – as long as it’s not harmful.

There’s been more and more representation of asexuality in YA recently – I hope aromantic representation follows suit.

Some aromantic characters in YA (and NA):

Aromantic: Niavin from The Fae Feast series, Kevin from Guardian of the Dead, Eshvat, Gershom and Stella from the Mangoverse series, Jo from Make Much of Me, Clariel.

Demiromantic: Regan from Chameleon Moon (Wren and Lisette are also aro), Darcy from Afterworlds.

Could be read as aro-spectrum: Katsa from Graceling, Mia from The Change series, Lirael, Liraz from Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Katniss from the Hunger Games.

*I don’t actually know if these authors know much about aromanticism and asexuality, this is just the way it seems. Apologies if I’m wrong.

Laya is an aro-ace spectrum artist from New Zealand. She loves reading – especially LGBTQIAP+ speculative fiction – tv shows (of the same genre) and drawing fanart of those things. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Design. You can find her on Twitter and Tumblr (art blog | book blog). Her aroace book (and webcomic) rec list is here.

Broken, Villains, or Punishment

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week Series: Day 6 – Previous Posts: Introduction to Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week SeriesThe Excitement and Frustration of Being “Alone”Actual LoveBeing Surrounded by Something You’ve Never Quite UnderstoodOn Writing Aromantic Characters in YADiscovering Aromanticism

by Fox Salazar

I remember being a young teen and a voracious reader. I read almost anything. Old classics like Lovecraft, modern realistic fiction authors like Julie Anne Peters, and too many books with dragons to name. But I hated the romance genre.

In fact, I didn’t really like reading romances in other genres. I read coming-out-stories to help myself come out and to make sense of a world that wasn’t really kind to trans (later nonbinary) or bi/pansexuals. I was glad that there were queer teens finding romantic love, getting boyfriends or girlfriends that could share queer experiences with them, but those relationships never fully resonated with me.

In most books, most media really, not finding romantic love is seen as a death sentence. Worse than death, even! If you don’t fall in love by the end of the story, you’re unloveable. There was something wrong with you that kept people away. You were too bitter, too snarky, too guarded, and it’s. all. your. fault.

If you aren’t in a romantic relationship by the end of the story, or you haven’t sacrificed yourself in the name of romantic love, you end up the villain.

Because villains can’t love.

That’s kind of an insidious trope in YA especially. One that maybe isn’t obvious unless you’re really looking. Think about it. In a typical young adult book you have the protagonist who crushes on somebody (or even somebodies), and the relationship grows throughout the story. Juxtaposed is the antagonist who’s usually depicted as stone cold, calculated, and never has a romantic partner. Or in realistic fiction, the people who bullied and harassed our protagonist ends up alone. Maybe they get rejected or dumped in direct response to how they treat others. Not being in a relationship is treated as punishment.

It can all be very disheartening when you yourself don’t really see the appeal of a datemate.

It’s very rare to find a YA book or series where romance doesn’t play a role of some sort, especially in regards to books published in the last decade. From dystopian novels like “The Hunger Games” to almost every coming of age story ever written. Now, that’s not to say that these books aren’t good, or are doing something wrong by including romance. But for the vast majority of books to include romance and be treated as the be-all-end-all experience for a person is a bit daunting.

It’s important, of course, especially in gay-as-an-umbrella-term books to show healthy relationships. But to make it seem like a relationship is all there is to a young queer experience is damaging to everyone. And to make it seem like if you’re not in or looking for a relationship there’s something wrong going on with you is sending an incredibly harmful message.

It would be nice to see more YA books focusing on friendships and how those can shape us just as much or even more so than whoever we’re dating. And of course it’d be great to see aro-spectrum characters! Old AND young. After all, it could do some real good for young aro or aro questioning teens to see an older character that was like them, to show that it’s not just something they’ll grow out of once they find “The One”. Or if they do find “The One”, have it clearly explained it’s because they’re demiromantic and not because everyone only has one person they can ever truly love or that true love changed them.

At this point it would be nice if there was even one aromantic character in mainstream YA fiction.

Fox Salazar is a bi/pansexual genderfluid who became a lot happier when they learned the word “aromantic.” They are a book reviewer and hopeful writer. You can find them on Tumblr; Twitter; and YouTube as Masked Fox Creations.

 

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