It’s been a while since I’ve done a recommendations post, and of course I prefer to recommend LGBTQ+ books! When talking about LGBTQ+ books, a section that I think deserves more attention are LGBTQ+ M/F romances in books. Because no, a male/female romance is not automatically straight. If one or both of the people in the relationship are queer, that means the relationship is automatically not straight.
Today, I’m recommending no less than 10 YA books with queer M/F couples. Please comment with your own favourites!
Lana Wood Johnson – Technically, You Started It
When a guy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II texts you, it should be obvious who you’re talking to. Except there’s two of them (it’s a long story), and Haley thinks she’s talking to the one she doesn’t hate.
A question about a class project rapidly evolves into an all-consuming conversation. Haley finds that Martin is actually willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. Haley and Martin might be too awkward to hang out in real life, but over text, they’re becoming addicted to each other.
There’s just one problem: Haley doesn’t know who Martin is. And Martin doesn’t know that Haley doesn’t know. But they better figure it out fast before their meet-cute becomes an epic meet-disaster . . .
One book I really enjoyed recently is Technically, You Started It, a YA contemporary which is entirely written in text messages. The main character is demisexual and deals with anxiety, and the love interest is bisexual.
Amanda Foody – Ace of Shades
Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.
Ace of Shades is a really fun book to read for fans of Six of Crows. It’s not a heist novel, exactly, but it does have a fun cast of characters trying to pull off a crime. One of the main characters is a black bisexual boy who ends up falling in love with the other main character, who’s sexuality is unknown. I actually liked the second book in this series even more than the first, which is not something that happens a lot.
Lillie Vale – Small Town Hearts
Rule #1 – Never fall for a summer boy.
Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.
And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?
Small Town Hearts is a lovely summer contemporary about a bisexual girl who falls in love with a guy who’s only in her small town for the summer. I thought it was a really atmospheric read, which made it a perfect summer read.
Nina Moreno – Don’t Date Rosa Santos
Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.
But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.
As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?
Another book with a bisexual main character falling in love with a boy is Don’t Date Rosa Santos. While this might start out and seem like a fluffy contemporary, it actually ended up being a pretty emotional read, and it mostly centers around Cuban-American Rosa wanting to visit Cuba and learn about her heritage.
Claire Kann – Let’s Talk About Love
Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.
Of course I had to include Let’s Talk About Love in this list, because it’s one of my favourite books with asexuality rep. The main character is a black biromantic and asexual girl who falls in love with a Japanese-American guy, and it’s such a cute, fluffy romance!
Katie Cotugno – Top Ten
Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:
10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?
When I picked up Top Ten, I was actually surprised to find out it had a bisexual main character! This book reminded me a little of One Day by David Nicholls, and the story also dealt with the main character’s anxiety.
Camryn Garrett – Full Disclosure (review)
In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.
Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.
Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.
Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…
I won’t stop talking about Full Disclosure anytime soon, because it’s just so good! The book is about, Simone, who’s black, HIV positive and bisexual. It’s a very sex-positive book, full of insightful and important educational aspects. This doesn’t necessarily make it a heavy read, though; it’s also an often funny romcom about a teenage girl directing the school musical and falling in love for the first time.
Eva Darrows – Belly Up
There’s a first time for everything.
First time playing quarters.
First time spinning the bottle.
First totally hot consensual truck hookup with a superhot boy whose digits I forgot to get.
First time getting pregnant.
Surprised you with that one, didn’t I?
Surprised me, too. I’d planned to spend senior year with my bestie-slash-wifey, Devi Abrams, graduating at the top of my class and getting into an Ivy League college. Instead, Mom and I are moving in with my battle-ax of a grandmother and I’m about to start a new school and a whole new life.
Know what’s more fun than being the new girl for your senior year? Being the pregnant new girl. It isn’t awesome. There is one upside, though—a boy named Leaf Leon. He’s cute, an amazing cook and he’s flirting me up, hard-core. Too bad I’m knocked up with a stranger’s baby. I should probably mention that to him at some point.
It seems I’ve got a lot more firsts to go.
Belly Up is a YA contemporary about teen pregnancy, with a bisexual MC. I wasn’t personally the biggest fan of this book, but that doesn’t have to mean you won’t be either! It did have a lot of strengths: the unique topics, its sex positivity… There are also a grey-ace side character and a Romani love interest.
Brandy Colbert – Little & Lion
When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.
But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.
Little & Lion mostly deals with mental illness, but the main character also questions her sexuality and figures out that she’s bisexual. I thought it was really well written, and there was a lot of character development.
Riley Redgate – Noteworthy
A cappella just got a makeover.
Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.
In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.
Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.
Yes, there are quite a lot of books where the female main character pretends to be a boy to get what she wants. But Noteworthy did something most of those books don’t do: actually discuss gender, and even have the main character question her gender. This definitely added something to the book for me, and it feels unique and valuable to have a cis main character question her gender. The main character is also bisexual and falls in love with a boy on her a cappella team.
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