2014 was an incredible year for YA with lesbian and bisexual characters. In Robin Talley‘s weighty novel Lies We Tell Ourselves, two girls found each other in spite of seemingly insurmountable societal pressure. And in Nina Lacour‘s lighter Everything Leads to You, a young set designer has to get past an ex to find happiness. With titles from all genres from contemporary romance to historical fiction to horror, it looks like lesbian and bi YA is going to be just as exciting in 2015.
1. Under the Lights By Dahlia Adler (Spencer Hill Contemporary, June)
Vanessa Park, the actress from Dahlia Adler’s Behind the Scenes is back and falling for her career handler. This promises to be a romantic novel with plenty of backstage Hollywood fun in the same vein as last summer’s Everything Leads to You. As Ms Adler said in a recent panel during New York City’s teen author festival, having the the couple on the cover in their entirety (as opposed to the normal lesbian YA trope of a close up on held hands) was important to her, and as the beautiful cover design proves, it was a worthwhile cause for her to take up.
2. Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman (Sky Pony Press, March)
Historical fiction in YA often means gowns, or at the very least flapper dresses, but Freeman’s surfer chick novel travels back to the early ’70s, just long enough to detach her characters from texts and e-mails but still have them bombarded with familiar bits of pop culture. When Nani moves from Hawaii to California and joins a group of tough surfer girls, that fact that she’s crushing on the leader might be the least of her secrets.
3. Not Otherwise Specified By Hannah Moskowitz (Simon Pulse, March)
Hannah Moskowitz has been penning extraordinary novels since she was a teen, with several featuring relationships between two boys (including the post 9-11 Gone, Gone, Gone and the darkly beautiful mermaid tale Teeth). The breakdown of Not Otherwise Specified seems as overstuffed with issues as an episode of Degrassi, bisexual Etta is recovering from an eating disorder while still trying to make it as a ballerina, a passion she feels excluded from because of her race. A lesser author might not be able to balance all those concerns, but Moskowitz always rises to the literary challenge.
4. Lilies of the Bowery By Lily R. Mason (Amazon Digital, February)
New York City in the early 1900s makes for a rich and fascinating literary backdrop—just look at Ragtime. Mason starts her story in 1914, when teen Joan Passerini moves from Italy to the city with her family. Though she doesn’t fall in love with the city, she does fall for Paloma Morello.
5. About a Girl By Sarah McCarry (St. Martin’s Griffin, July)
Though About a Girl concludes McCarry’s Metamorphoses trilogy, you can jump right into her story of Tally, who whose orderly life is thrown seriously off balance when she falls for Maddy, making her question her paint by numbers plan for her future. McCarry writing is lyrical, almost like an epic poem threading the lives of her teenage characters together.