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10 LGBT Coming of Age Books to Fill You with Pride

By June 18, 2016May 27th, 2018Discussion and Recommendations

I think the first thing that has to be said here is that it’s impossible to encompass all of LGBT literature into one list. Previously we have had a poll on good LGBT books recommended by you, and to celebrate the fact that June is Pride Month, I’ve put together my own list of what I think are the best LGBT Coming of Age Books.

Reading is so important to our personal development, and reading characters that represent and reflect our feelings helps us to grow into the adults we should be. That’s why LGBT YA literature is so very important, and why it’s important to see diversity across the whole of literature, representing the people who read it.

If you’re looking to explore this subject, then here are the ten LGBT coming of age books that I would recommend to you. All are recommended for a younger audience, but all books of course can be enjoyed by all.


Maurice – E. M Forster

While Maurice may not appeal to younger readers (it was written in 1913 and the language reflects this), it’s an important book in the history of LGBT literature. Maurice was written in 1913, and after Forster’s death in 1971 it was uncovered with a note on the manuscript reading ‘Publishable, but worth it?’. Maurice tells the story of Maurice Hall and his experiences of same-sex love through university and his early adulthood. It was published in 1971 and it’s most certainly worth it.

Maurice US
Maurice UK

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A Boy’s Own Story – Edmund White

A Boy’s Own Story was published in 1982 and is White’s autobiographical account of his emerging sexuality, the embarrassment caused by his desire for male affection in a hetero-normative society in the 1950s. A fascinating insight into the struggles that LGBT people face, and a brilliant read.

A Boy’s Own Story US
A Boy’s Own Story UK

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Rubyfruit Jungle – Rita Mae Brown

Not everyone has angst about sexual preference and Rubyfruit Jungle was a groundbreaking novel when released in 1973 because it was the first novel that looked at gay relationships in a positive light, from the perspective of someone who has accepted her sexuality. The book features confident heroine, Molly Bolt, a lesbian who is comfortable in her own skin, and the problems she faces from society.

Rubyfruit Jungle US
Rubyfruit Jungle UK

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

This is a new addition to the genre, released in 2012 but it’s a must when it comes to inclusion. Boasting a host of awards and a huge fan following Ari and Dante and their friendship makes for one of the best LGBT YA coming of age stories of the current time.

Aristotle and Dante US
Aristotle and Dante UK

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Annie on My Mind – Nancy Garden

This excellent coming of age tale features Liza and Annie and the relationship that develops between the teens. While Annie is fine with being gay, Liza struggles with her sexuality. Now considered a classic in the genre after being burned in the Kansas school district in the 1990s.

Annie on My Mind US
Annie on My Mind UK

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

No coming of age list would be complete without this book, which features everyone who’s ever felt marginalised for anything. Featuring gay Patrick, and several other misfit characters, this YA classic celebrates everyone who doesn’t feel they fit in.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower US
The Perks of Being a Wallflower UK

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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

In recent times authors have become much braver in this sub-genre and the 2015 Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda brings this genre back up to date! When the eponymous character is outed on his high school Tumblr message board, a heartfelt, wild ride of a whodunit ensues.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda US
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda UK

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Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan

David Levithan is known for his groundbreaking YA LGBT literature, and for this list I’ve picked the book that I think is the best of the bunch. Two Boys Kissing tells the story of Craig and Harry, two teens embarking on a 32-hr kissathon to break the Guinness World Record. A fantastic modern day coming of age tale.

Two Boys Kissing US
Two Boys Kissing UK

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Luna – Julie Anne Peters

Even with the excellent steps in this sub-genre, there is still a lack of books with trans characters, and that makes Luna all the more groundbreaking. By night Liam becomes Luna, borrowing his sister’s clothes and make up at night. Luna wants to make her appearance in the daytime too, but how will her family react?

Luna US
Luna UK

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Oranges are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson

Another 80s classic, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit is set in the UK, the Pennines in fact. Jeanette is raised by a fundamentalist mother and here she reconciles her relationship with Melanie, and her relationship with God. While it works for her, the church isn’t so understanding.

Oranges are not the Only Fruit US
Oranges are not the Only Fruit UK

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So that’s it, the books I consider the best YA Coming of age books with LGBT characters. We’re sure you’ll have plenty of other suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments.


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