58 YA Novels That Would Be Better With Lesbians

What can be improved by adding lesbians?

EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING CAN BE IMPROVED BY ADDING LESBIANS, OBVIOUSLY.

But I can’t talk about everything, or even every story, for equally obvious reasons – there isn’t enough time in the world to talk about ALL OF THE THINGS THAT NEED LESBIANS. I can certainly talk about some of the stories that need lesbians, however, AND I SHALL. I hereby decree that it is time to make a list of all the YA novels that could be improved 100000000% by adding lesbians… either by changing a character’s canonical gender, or by having the (female) protagonist fall in love with a (female) friend.

since you've been gone1.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Emily and Sloane are far too close to be just friends, right? (And then there could be Awesome Angry Queer Ranting about how everyone ignores how they’re actually dating in favor of calling them “good friends” or “gal pals,” because this is a thing that all too frequently happens to lesbians.)

2.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Loads of girls are obsessed with horses, right? So it would make perfect sense for Puck to find and fall in love with another girl at the Scorpio Races! Ooh, what if those two were the only female competitors, and they helped each other to win first and second place, and then they kissed, and lived happily ever after, and kept a whole herd of horses?!

3, 4, 5.anna and the french kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
Lola and the Boy Next Door
Isla and the Happily Ever After
by Stephanie Perkins

I like the ideas and settings of these stories but to tell the truth, I found the whole boy/girl thing a little… meh. I want to read about Anna and her adorable half-British girlfriend (with the gloriously sexy French accent) eating their way through Paris! I want Stephanie Perkins to use the setting of Lola – San Francisco – to its full advantage by having Lola hang out in all the gayborhoods and go to Pride with her girlfriend. I want Isla’s girlfriend to deal with the challenges of being the queer kid of a prominent politician. (Always under scrutiny from the media, et cetera.)

But mostly I just want to read about Anna and that girlfriend eating all those glorious paninis in Paris. MMMMMMMMMMMMM YUMMY DELICIOUS.

how to lead a life of crime6.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Carmilla left me wanting more more MORE stories about lesbian vampires.

7.

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

Butt-kicking girlfriends who fight crime AND cause crime? I NEED THIS BOOK NOW, CLEARLY.

8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

The Raven Boys
The Dream Thieves
Blue Lily, Lily Blue
(and soon, The Raven King)
by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue was always told, “If you kiss your true love, HE will die.” So wouldn’t it be awesome if she was like, “LOL, Mom, that won’t be a problem kthxbai.”

fangirl13.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Levi as the adorable butch lesbian, right? RIGHT?! And Cath reading aloud to her, and cuddling together… OH MY GOD.

14.

Sisterland by Linda Newbery

Hilly’s best friend, Rueben, dates this handsome Pakistani boy, and she ends up dating that boy’s older brother… it would be so much cuter if Hilly and Rueben were both gay, tho. ALL OF THE HELLA GAY DOUBLE DATES. ALL OF THEM.

15, 16, 17.

The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins

“Peeta” is such a gender-neutral name, right? And they even look like an adorable butch lesbian if I take off my glasses and squint! Also, there are loads of governments (my own included, unfortunately) that don’t approve of queer relationships, which makes the whole thing with Snow SO much more realistic.

Ella_enchanted_(book_cover)[1]18.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

MY TINY GAY FANGIRLISH HEART WOULD EXPLODE FROM CUTENESS IF CHAR WERE A PRINCESS. Omgggg, I would probably die from the cuteness whilst reading all those scenes where Ella and Char send funny, flirty letters back and forth.

19.

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

The sequels were so terrible that I’m not sure they could be redeemed even with lesbians, but honestly? Maximum Ride has never seemed straight to me. It’s hard to explain exactly why – that’s just how I see her. That’s how I’ve always seen her.

20, 21, 22, 23, 24.

The Lightning Thief
The Sea of Monsters
The Titan’s Curse
The Battle of the Labyrinth
The Last Olympian
by Rick Riordan

Zoe and Artemis. Annabeth and Thalia. Thalia and Artemis. ZOE AND ARTEMIS. Omg!

25.Eleanor.Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Two lonely, adorable, music-loving high school misfits? OOH YES PLEASE. I want more historical fiction lesbians! (And interracial lesbian couples, too!)

26, 27, 28.

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City
Kiki Strike: The Empress’s Tomb
Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers
by Kirsten Miller

These books are basically about a girl gang, everyone. SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR GIRLS TO KISS GIRLS.

the house of hades29.

Dramarama by E. Lockhart

Sorry, but straight girl/gay guy friendships BORE ME TO FREAKING DEATH; I’m all about friendships between queer characters. (And we don’t have enough of them, sadly!) I just really really need Sadye to be a lesbian so that she and Demi can hang out at theater camp and be cute dorky gay best friends together.

30, 31, 32, 33, 34.

The Lost Hero
The Son of Neptune
The Mark of Athena
The House of Hades
The Blood of Olympus
by Rick Riordan

ANNABETH AND REYNA FOREVERRRRR. That is all.

35.the geography of you and me

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Lesbian princesses? Always.

36, 37, 38.

The Statistical Improbability of Love at First Sight
This Is What Happy Looks Like
The Geography of Me and You
by Jennifer E. Smith

Because I want to read fluffy, chick-lit-ish YA lesbian love stories, that’s why.

39.

Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix

So this is a GREAT story about these two little old ladies… who look like teenagers because they started aging backwards. (They’re 182 years old when the novel begins.) They’ve spent YEARS living together and hiding from the scientists who made them this way, and I think it would be marvelously adorable if they fell in love with each other.

Eternal Ones PB[1]40, 41.

The Eternal Ones
All You Desire
by Kirsten Miller

This is a great story about true love and reincarnation… the main characters are reborn over and over again and keep falling in love throughout the centuries! Changing the gender of Haven’s love interest would send a really positive message, I think: Same-gender love is just as true and “right” as heterosexual love.

42.

Number The Stars by Lois Lowry

Again, historical fiction lesbians always get an enthusiastic “YES!” from me. And gay condie matched[1]children? YES YES YES WE NEED MORE OF THEM IN FICTION PLEEEEEASE.

43, 44, 45.

Matched
Crossed
Reached
by Ally Condie

Because a society in which all women are assigned male partners and all men are assigned female partners and everyone accepts that without question just makes so much sense. (…that was sarcasm, FYI.)

46.

Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

A romance between two artsy dudes? Hmm, all right. It was cute – but it’d be cuter if it were about artsy girlfriends. IMHO.

fan art47, 48, 49, 50, 51.

The Wee Free Men
A Hat Full of Sky
Wintersmith
I Shall Wear Midnight
(and soon, The Shepherd’s Crown)
by Terry Pratchett

Witchy lesbians! That’s all you need to know.

52.

This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki

I will never understand books that frequently mention lesbians but don’t actually bother to, you know, include any lesbian characters. What the hell?!

53, 54, 55, 56, 57.

Cinderscarlet
Scarlet
Cress
Fairest
(and soon, Winter)
by Marissa Meyer

I AM DYING TO READ MORE SCIENCE FICTION WITH LESBIANS. And Sybil Mira totally has a crush on the Queen. At least in my little gay mind.

58. 

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

So in this book, Frankie sets up all these elaborate, freaking BRILLIANT pranks to impress her boyfriend, but what if she realized that she doesn’t like boys at all because compulsory heterosexuality? She stays with him – or rather, pretends to, because her family is super heteronormative and pressure-y – and secretly dates another girl, who helps her orchestrate all those plans? AAAAAAH I NEED THIS RIGHT NOW.

-~-

The inspiration for this post comes from a variety of places.

It comes from my experience as a bookworm who is DEVOTED to finding cute F/F love stories: I honestly thought Since You’ve Been Gone and This One Summer – among others – would conclude with the main characters falling in love with their (female) best friend.

It comes from the utter BOREDOM I feel when reading/watching pretty much any heterosexual romance: There are some notable exceptions to this, but mostly I’m just so freaking bored of reading the same old boy-meets-girl stories, with the same cookie-cutter characters repeated over and over and over again.

Perhaps most importantly, my inspiration for this post comes from a desire to see more variety in LGBTQ+ fiction. (Especially YA!) I chose to make this post specifically about lesbians because A) I’m one of them and B) I really really want some stories that are just about girls liking girls, because that is what I can most strongly relate to. So, yeah: I want more variety in all LGBTQ+ stories, but today I’m talking about my vested interest in more variety within lesbian YA.

Generally speaking, there isn’t much variety in lesbian YA novels. Yes, I love having love stories I can actually relate to and yes, I appreciate that these stories haven’t been done to death like the heterosexual romances, but… where are our fun, weird, fascinating plots?

A lot of lesbian YA stories are set in schools, or in some boring, average American city/town, and they’re almost ALWAYS contemporary novels. And I am SOOOOOO biased here, but contemporary is just not my thing.

I want to read lesbian YA in many different genres, with many different settings. Where are our adorable love stories set in Paris? Where is our dystopian sci fi? Where are the stories about witchy girlfriends who wear pointy hats and kiss one another and cause havoc in the local village by casting spells on unsuspecting townsfolk?

Where are our lesbian retellings of mythology? Where are the stories set in another country, or on another continent, or on a completely different planet? Where oh where are the lesbians in YA historical fiction?

I WANT LESBIANS IN ALLLLL THE SUBGENRES OF YA! AND IF THERE MUST BE SOOOOO MUCH CONTEMPORARY FICTION WITH LESBIANS, THEN PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GIVE ME AN INTERESTING SETTING OR PLOT, AT THE VERY LEAST. I can stomach contemporaries when they have something DIFFERENT going on, plot-wise, like a foreign setting or some sort of wacky plot about a girl who plans elaborate, freaking brilliant pranks – because that’s fun. That holds my interest.

I’m always happy to see lesbians in YA fiction, and I would like to see much much more representation of such characters. But I do wish we had more variety in our stories – sometimes it seems like heterosexuals are the only ones who get fun, creative, unusual plots. Where are my stories that don’t gloss over the lesbian characters’ sexual orientation AND have creative plots in all sorts of genres?

-~-

Which YA standalones/series would YOU like to add lesbians to?! I’d love to know; be sure to tell me in the comments so we can fangirl!

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to 58 YA Novels That Would Be Better With Lesbians

  1. YES TO ALL. ELLA ENCHANTED AND ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS AND SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE AND OMG I NEEDS ALL OF THESE BOOKS IN MY LIFE. HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME SO EXCITED?? Contemporary is my fave genre and even then there aren’t enough lesbians. More in fantasy, please!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Ehehe, I can deal with contemporary if it has a weird plot, or a cool setting, or… if it HAS to be set in a school, then can it be a boarding school or acting school or a school in another country? Soooo much more interesting than “generic American high school.”

      But more than anything, I want lesbians in ALL OF THE GENRES. 😀

  2. YASS GIRL about a lot of these. The Anna and the French Kiss trilogy could have had at least one book to make it a little different from the other two, and Fangirl with what you said? OMG so cuuuute. Matched would also have been really cool if MC had been assigned a guy but was actually lesbian. #dystopianlesbianproblems since it seems like everyone is heterosexual in dystopian fiction.
    I’m watching Once Upon a Time right now, and was just introduced to Mulan and Aurora. Their characters are soooooo much like the two MCs in Princess Princess. They even look similar! I totally ship them, omg.
    This was an awesome post! 🙂

    • nevillegirl says:

      I know, right? We didn’t really need three books with the SAME exact romantic formula.

      Ooh, yes, I still need to watch OUAT, but I’ve heard good things about it… and already ship Emma/Regina despite having not yet seen any episodes yet. 😛 THEY JUST LOOK SO CUTE TOGETHER.

  3. To be honest, the one thing that really didn’t sit right with me about Fangirl was that there were no gay characters outside of the fanfiction, which kind of made it this otherworldly slightly weird thing. So yes, defs could be improved with lesbians.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Exactly! I mean… I’m letting my imagination run wild, but the new-and-improved-with-lesbians version of Fangirl could have a plot about Cath thinking that she liked guys, and that’s why she wrote M/M fanfiction – because double the guys, whee! And then she heads off to college and is forced to interact with the real world (and not just stories) more often, and realizes that when it comes to actual people (not characters), she just doesn’t have any chemistry with guys: It’s Levi, the cute butch lesbian from down the hall in the dorm, who she thinks is cute.
      And one of the ways she comes to terms with her orientation is by reading/writing fanfic, because… like, if it was OK for Simon & Baz to be gay, surely it’s OK for her? And then she ends up writing F/F with… I think the female characters in the Simon Snow books are Penelope & Agatha? So yeah, fic with them. And coming out to her sister by showing her the fanfic and being all, “I wrote a thing… not my usual thing, though. SOMETHING SPECIAL.”

      dfhgdfsjhkgjhsdkfhgsdkfg I SHOULD JUST GO WRITE THIS STORY. 😀

    • nevillegirl says:

      YES YES YES.

      Yeah, I did! 😀

  4. Clarice says:

    ZOE/THALIA! ZOE/THALIA!!!

    If we count classic books as YA (Jane Austen and Louiesa May Alcott, at least – their stories are coming of age!) their books, especially Sense and Sensibility (Have you read it? It’d make so much sense to make Elinor/Edward lesbians) would be awesome with LGBTQ. As for Little Women, I’ll just put this link here:

    • nevillegirl says:

      Ehehe, I have a hard time hateshipping anyone together, so IDK if Zoe/Thalia would work for me, but basically I always headcanoned ALL the huntresses as queer. 😀

      I made this list strictly about modern YA, but I would LOVE to reimagine classics with lesbians as well! However, I have read neither of those books. 😛 I’ve read Pride & Prejudice, but none of Austen’s other novels.

      (And oh my god, is that from a webseries about Little Women?! That sounds like my sort of thing… do you watch Carmilla? It’s a webseries, currently in its second season, based on a vampire story with canon lesbians… AND it was written BEFORE Dracula.)

      • Clarice says:

        Zoe/Thalia would probably work if he placed it in the time period before Thalia, Luke, and Annabeth got to Camp Halfblood, I think. Have you ever gotten something of that impression? Like, when Thalia ‘chose Luke’, she was choosing Luke above Zoe, and that just made her even more bitter afterwards.

        If you ever feel like reading another Austen book, READ SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. The story completely snared me. It’s quite possibly may favourite classic book, and I’ve been recommending it left and right because it is PERFECT.

        Haha, I started watching Carmilla because you recommended it in your blog a while back. Roped my sisters into watching it with me, too. 😀 Yup, that’s Meg March and Joan Brooke from The March Family Letters, based on Little Women.

    • nevillegirl says:

      …hmm, that makes sense. I’d never thought of it that way before, but that just might work! 🙂

      OK! I’ve been meaning to read another Austen book, but always seem to get distracted by other stories… 😛

      Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! 😀

  5. Mo says:

    While I’m generally in favor of lesbians, I’m hesitating to agree with you 100% here. It seems like you went “And you get lesbians! And you! And you!” (or in other words) “I’d love to see this kind of story but with lesbians instead of straight people,” rather than looking at books where it would just make more sense if there were lesbians–and that falls kind of flat to me.

    So on one hand, some of these books I’d love with lesbians (and as main characters, not just “where are all the gay people?”)–the Lunar Chronicles, the Princess Diaries, This One Summer–but others I just don’t see it. Fangirl is one of the few heterosexual romances I enjoy (although I’m here for bi Reagan but that’s another story), I like the Kiki Strike books without romance, and IMO there’s nothing that can save Matched. 😛

    • nevillegirl says:

      …that’s… not how I made this list at all, though. I guess we disagree on which stories would make more sense with lesbians, but all of the standalones and series listed here were included because I genuinely do think they would make more sense with lesbians. There’s a lot I didn’t include here because I didn’t want to throw in every book I’d ever read, if I didn’t think that [insert protagonist here]’s story arc would make more sense with lesbians.

      Take, for instance, Harry Potter – I didn’t see a logical way to add lesbians to the story, so I SPECIFICALLY didn’t include that series on this list even though it’s super popular and definitely needs more diversity. (And then wondered if people would wonder why not, but happily no one has questioned that yet.)

      Believe me, putting together this list took a lot of time and planning and jotting down notes of all the characters (and relationships) I’d misinterpreted as queer, or the characters I’d never quite understood because wouldn’t their stories and struggles and basically their entire LIFE just fit into the story better if they were queer? There are about four stories (Stephanie Perkins’ books, and Fangirl) that I, as you put it, just went “And you get lesbians! And you! And you!” but that was only because I was so freaking BORED of the hetero-ness that about halfway through reading them, I pretended all the love interests were the same gender as the protagonist. (Because Levi ughhhhhhh boredom. No.) But that’s it.

      (I’m sorry if that’s not how it seemed to you, but anyway… yeah?? These are all the stories I’ve ever thought needed lesbians to actually have better-functioning plots and whatnot. IDK… I want lesbians in all stories, but I wouldn’t have bothered to explain precisely how the characters’ orientation fit into and improve the story if I didn’t have Actual Reasons? I would’ve ended the post at “Everything can be improved by adding lesbians.”)

      • Mo says:

        Urgh, I’m sorry that I sounded like I was doubting you. I didn’t mean that at all, and obviously we’re going to have different opinions on books. I think I just read this post as “Hey, this would be cute!” rather than thinking about the reasons behind your thoughts.

        Oh, but speaking of lesbians, have you read Malinda Lo’s new short story?

    • nevillegirl says:

      It’s OK. It’s just that… well, plain old cuteness is definitely a factor in my enjoyment of these lesbian!AU stories, but I could’ve easily made this post “300 YA Novels That Would Be Better With Lesbians.” But there wouldn’t be nearly the depth of reasons (and gay fangirl feelings) behind my choices; the other 242 stories would just be there to make the list more impressive.

      Nope! I’ve been meaning to, though. I still need to finish Huntress and then I wanna read her short stories in Diverse Energies and Grim. 🙂

    • nevillegirl says:

      I get a twice-weekly dose of lesbian cuteness via Vervegirl TV, thank you very much. 😛

      …’K, reading it now. BECAUSE LESBIAN VAMPIRES.

  6. THIS IS SUCH A WONDERFUL LIST! Like, I love all of these books, but lesbihonest (I’M SO SORRY BUT THERE WAS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY) they’d all be better with non-straight couples. 😀 ❤

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