by Zac Brewer
I have to admit, I may have squealed a little when I read the email inviting me to write a piece for Gay YA. It’s an honor to be included, to feel like my voice matters, on the subject of being queer. Growing up, there wasn’t really any YA to speak of (this was the 70s/80s—yeah, I KNOW THAT WAS A MILLION YEARS AGO, OKAY?—so we pretty much had Judy Blume and then went straight into adult fiction), and there certainly wasn’t, at least within my grasp, any queer fiction available. If there had been, maybe I would have come to understand my gender identity & sexual orientation a bit sooner. If there had been…well, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone and misunderstood. But now we live in an age where YA is everywhere you look, and the amount of LGBT+ fiction available is growing a bit more every day.
(Side note: we now also have this cool thing called the internet, and phones are no longer attached to walls by curly chords long enough to entangle you for days if you weren’t careful. Don’t judge me.)
I could make many recommendations of books to read that are queer-focused, but I’d like to share with you my top five favorites (because there is also still this thing called “the outside” and I firmly believe you should go there, because it’s awesome—take a book). But before I tell you what books I think you should read, I want to tell you this: the authors of these books are incredible people. Each of them is kind, understanding, open-minded, and wonderful. I highly recommend all of their works, and suggest that you reach out to them online. Because they are way, way cooler than I am…and I’m pretty damn cool (apart from my issues with having grown up in the 70’s/80’s, that is).
Now. On to the books (in no particular order).
ASK THE PASSENGERS by A.S. King
PROXY by Alex London
STICK by Andrew Smith
MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera
EVERY DAY by David Levithan
When I initially started writing this piece, I’d included descriptions of each, but have since deleted those descriptions. Because you shouldn’t read a book (or not) because it suits your identity or orientation. You should read them because they’re excellent books…which these are. So. Just trust me. Pick any one of them. And fall in love, the way that I have with each.
Also…be thankful you’re growing up now, in a time of change and growing acceptance…and cell phones.
Zac Brewer doesn’t believe in happy endings . . . unless they involve blood. Sometimes he writes books about such things. You might have read them. He lives in Missouri with his husband and two children. Visit Zac at www.zacbrewer.com.