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 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.)
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?!
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.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Carmilla left me wanting more more MORE stories about lesbian vampires.
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.”
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Levi as the adorable butch lesbian, right? RIGHT?! And Cath reading aloud to her, and cuddling together… OH MY GOD.
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
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Number The Stars by Lois Lowry
43, 44, 45.
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.)
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.
The Wee Free Men
A Hat Full of Sky
I Shall Wear Midnight
(and soon, The Shepherd’s Crown)
by Terry Pratchett
Witchy lesbians! That’s all you need to know.
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.
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.
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!