If you’re looking for your next read, then what could possibly better than a new, undiscovered LGBT+ novel?
2021 has already seen plenty of queer stories penned by excellent LGBT+ authors – including brilliant debut novels.
These range from young adult (YA) fiction to novels inspired by real-life experiences and stories of LGBT+ people overcoming discrimination to find authentic love.
And with more and more queer stories being adapted into films and television shows, your next read could well be your favourite watch in the near future.
Below we’ve put together 17 amazing and inspiring LGBT+ novels that have been released in 2021 so far.
1. Honey Girl
Honey Girl is the debut novel from Morgan Rogers and follows 28-year-old Grace who goes on a girl’s trip to Vegas to celebrate her PhD. The straight-laced high achiever ends up drunkenly marrying a woman who’s name she doesn’t even know. She leaves behind the pressure of her parent’s expectations in Portland for a summer in New York with her new wife, and while there she faces reality and needs to confront what she’s been running from all along.
The book is available to buy from Amazon.
2. Love Is an Ex-Country
As author Randa Jarrar says, “step aside, Jack Kerouac: When it comes to great American road trip stories, we’re letting fat, queer, Muslim-Arab single mothers drive the car.” This memoir follows Jarrar on her 2016 journey from California to her parents’ house in Connecticut. The journey includes pit stops to destroy wayward Confederate flags and reflect on traumatic childhood memories. The result is a scathing critique of American culture and a joyful celebration of life. We definitely need to see the film or television of adaption of this immediately.
3. Rainbow Milk
This coming-of-story follows 19-year-old Jesse McCarthy who grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of the legacies of the Windrush generation and a Jehovah’s Witness upbringing. It begins with the arrival of his ancestors from Jamaica to the Black Country in the UK in the 1950s where they face systemic discrimination and violence. The story then moves on to Jesse who seeks a fresh start in London at the turn of the millennium, but finds himself at a loss for a new centre of gravity, and turns to sex work to create new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality.
4. We Play Ourselves
We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman is a novel about the cost of making art and the art of making enemies. It follows Cass, a promising queer playwright who finds herself at the centre of a public shaming which relegates her from a rising star in New York to a nobody on her best friend’s sofa in LA. She fills her days by stalking her playwright nemesis and getting pulled into the orbit of her charismatic but manipulative neighbour. As she begins to dream of a comeback she is forced to reckon with her ambition – and her rage.
5. Let’s Get Back to the Party
Let’s Get Back to the Party is set just weeks after the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling in 2015. Following the announcement, high school art teacher Sebastian Mote wants to settle down, but he’s newly single and desperately lonely. When he runs into his childhood friend Oscar Burnham at a wedding in Washington, D.C., he can’t help but see it as a second chance. Now 35-years-old, the men haven’t seen each other in more than a decade. But Oscar has no interest in the sense of belonging Sebastian craves. Instead, he’s outraged by what he sees as the death of gay culture: bars overrun with bachelorette parties, friends coupling off and having babies. For Oscar, conformity isn’t peace, it’s surrender. As the pair collide again and again they must reckon with one another and themselves.
To get the novel head to Amazon.
6. Last Night at the Telegraph Club
This romantic novel is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the 1950s against the backdrop of McCarthyism and red scare paranoia. It follows 17-year-old Lily Hu who starts a journey of self-discovery. She meets Kathleen Miller at a time when it wasn’t safe for two girls to fall in love and discovers an underground queer community. While deportation looms over her father, Lily and Kathleen risk everything to let their love see the light of day.
7. The Prophets
The debut novel from Robert Jones Jr. is about two enslaved young men in love, Samuel and Isaiah. The pair work in the barn on the Halifax plantation run by Massa Paul, but the barn is also a haven of radiance and love where they can be alone together. A fellow slave named Amos starts to direct suspicion towards the two men, then while preaching the words of Massa Paul’s gospel, he betrays them in a story of suffering, hope and love.
8. She Drives Me Crazy
The first YA novel on the list is rom-com She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen. It follows 17-year-old Scottie Zajac who ends up in a car accident with her nemesis, Irene Abraham, the head cheerleader. Irene is as mean as she is beautiful, so Scottie makes a point to keep her distance. When the accident sends Irene’s car to the shop for weeks’ worth of repairs and the girls are forced to carpool, their rocky start only gets bumpier. But when an opportunity comes for Scottie to get back her toxic ex – and climb the school’s social ladder, she bribes Irene into a fake-dating scheme that might reveal some real feelings.
To get the book head to Amazon.
9. The Recent East
This family saga novel takes the genre to queer new heights. The story follows a mother and two teens as they navigate a new life in East Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall. They move into her parents’ abandoned mansion which fractures the siblings’ close relationship. Michael is free to be gay and takes to looting empty houses and partying with wannabe anarchists, while Adela is fascinated with the horrors of the Holocaust and buries herself in books. Over time the town itself changes and two episodes of devastating violence define the family forever.
To buy the book go to Amazon.
10. Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating
This YA novel follows easy going Hani Khan who comes out to her friends as bisexual, but they don’t believe her, claiming she can’t be bi if she’s only dates guys. In a panic she says she’s in a relationship with Ishu Dey, a girl her friends can’t stand. Ishu is an academic overachiever, hoping that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for university, but becoming head girl is a popularity contest so pretending to date Hani is her only chance of being elected. The pair start developing real feelings for each other, but some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving a happy ever after ending.
11. Future Feeling
Future Feeling follows Pen, a dog walker obsessed with social media and spending his free time looking at holograms of his idol, Aiden Chase. After a disappointing real-life encounter with Aiden, he enlists his roommates to help him hex the influencer but their curse goes awry, accidentally sending a man named Blithe into the Shadowlands. Now Pen needs to enter mysterious dimension in order to save him in a subversive, genre nonconforming novel about illusion, magic, technology and the emergent future.
12. Milk Fed
Milk Fed is a story about food, sex and god as it follows Rachel a 24-year-old lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. She meets Miriam, a young Orthodox Jewish women intent upon feeding her and Rachel finds herself entranced by her sundaes, her body, her faith and her family. The two grow closer and Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey in a tale of appetites: physical hunger, sexual desire and spiritual longing.
13. The Dead and the Dark
This supernatural mystery from Courtney Gould is set in Snakebite, Oregon, a town where teenagers are disappearing. Some of them are turning up dead and all fingers point to the popular ghost hunters who have come to town: Logan Oritz-Woodley and her dads, TV’s ParaSpectors, who have a feeling that there’s more than ghosts plaguing the small town. Logan teams up with Ashley who’s boyfriend has gone missing to figure out who, or what, is haunting Snakebite – but they reveal truths about the town, their families and themselves that they’re not ready for.
To get the book go to Amazon.
It’s every woman’s duty to have a child to replace those that were lost in the Great Flu, but after a year of marriage and no pregnancy Ada’s survival depends on leaving behind everything she knows. She has to escape her town, as they hang barren women as witches, so she joins up with the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang. The group’s leader wants to create a safe haven for women outcast from society so they hatch a plan, but Ada must decide if she’s willing to risk her life for the possibility of a new kind of future. A television adaption is also in development so watch this space.
15. Perfect On Paper
This YA novel by Sophie Gonzales follows a bisexual girl named Darcy who gives anonymous love advice to her school friends. She is hired by the hot new kid to help him get his ex back in exchange for keeping her secret. She has good reason to keep her identity secret because some things she’s not proud of will come to light, including the fact her best friend Brooke might never speak to her again.
16. The (Un)Popular Vote
This debut novel from Jasper Sanchez chronicles a transmasculine student Mark’s foray into a no-holds-barred student body president election against the wishes of his politician father, who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son. Thanks to Scandal (shout out Kerry Washington) Mark and his nerdy friends know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover. But between an investigative journalist digging into his past, his father trying to silence him and a bully frontrunner, Mark has to decide which matters most: perception or truth.
17. Can’t Take That Away
This debut from Steven Salvatore follows a genderqueer teen, Carey Parker, who finds the courage to stand up and speak out for equality when they are discriminated against by their high school administration. Carey dreams of being a diva and can sing all the pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars make it harder for them to find their voice. With a promising new romance and audition for Elphaba in the school musical it’s up to Carey and friends to defend their rights in their refusal to be silenced.
To buy the book head to Amazon.