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Books for Bisexual Awareness Week/Celebrate Bisexuality Day

It’s Bisexual Awareness Week, an annual celebration and awareness-raising campaign which includes Celebrate Bisexuality Day (also called Bisexual Visibility Day; this year’s is today, September 23rd). The following YA novels and series span genres and tone, but each features main and/or secondary characters who are bisexual or whose sexual attraction is fluid. All were recommended at their time of publication by The Horn Book Magazine and Guide. Reviews reprinted from The Horn Book Guide Online.

For more LGBTQIA+ resources from The Horn Book, click on the tags LGBTQIA+ and 2016 LGBT Pride. For even more LGBTQIA+ reading recommendations (for teens and adults), try Bisexual Books, Gay YA, I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?, and Reading While Queer. If you have recommendations of your own, let us know in the comments!

block_love-in-the-time-of-global-warmingAfter the devastating Earth Shaker, Penelope sets out into the brutal Los Angeles landscape in search of her family in Francesca Lia Block’s Odyssey-inspired Love in the Time of Global Warming. She meets an intriguing boy named Hex who joins her on her journey. Block’s imagery is remarkable in this sophisticated melding of post-apocalyptic setting, re-imagined classic, and her signature magical realism. Look for sequel The Island of Excess Love. (Holt, 2013)

bray_beauty queens hc Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens follows teen beauty pageant contestants whose plane has crashed as they use their “can-do” spirit to survive on what they assume is a deserted island. (Actually, it’s home to a government conspiracy.) The book is a smart, wickedly funny send-up of pageant culture; Bray also goes deeper to show how our culture’s insidious focus on female perfection keeps girls from being who they are. (Scholastic, 2011)

bow_scorpion rulesIn Erin Bow’s The Scorpion Rules, Pan Polar Confederacy princess Greta and the world’s other royal children are held hostage: if a leader goes to war, his or her child is killed; if that child survives to eighteen, he or she is released. There’s a welcome spin on the damsel-in-distress-falls-for-rebellious-boy trope — Greta’s love interest is Da-Xia, Daughter of Heaven, rather than insurrectionary hostage Elián. A smart, compelling Hunger Games read-alike.(McElderry, 2015)

chambers_postcards-from-no-mans-landSeventeen-year-old Jacob visits the family in Amsterdam that helped his grandfather during WWII. As he hears bits and pieces of a gripping story about a love affair between the young maiden, Geertrui, and an English soldier, Jacob recognizes himself in his grandparents and in the now-terminally-ill Geertrui, as well as in various companions and lovers. The reader closes Aidan Chambers’s novel Postcards from No Man’s Land resolved not to prettify human choices, nor simplify them. (Dutton, 2002)

cooper_vanishedKalah, protagonist of E. E. Cooper’s Vanished, is devastated when her bestie Beth — with whom she had a secret romance — runs away. Then rumors about Beth begin flying, and the third member of their trio, Brit, also disappears; Kalah gradually realizes the pieces don’t add up. The mystery and the question of how Kalah will react are compelling. Characters’ ethnic diversity and bisexuality are integrated lightly and matter-of-factly. (HarperCollins/Tegen, 2015)

duyvis_otherboundWhenever seventeen-year-old Nolan closes his eyes, he’s transported into the body of Amara, a mute slave girl on an alien world who acts as decoy against would-be assassins of a princess. After years of being a helpless witness, Nolan suddenly becomes a player in the action. Duyvis keeps tensions high in both Nolan’s Arizona and Amara’s Dunelands. Corinne Duyvis’s Otherbound is a humdinger of an adventure. (Abrams/Amulet, 2014)

heppermann_ask me how i got hereIn Christine Heppermann’s Ask Me How I Got Here, Catholic-school sophomore Addie loves running cross-country, writing poetry, and having sex with her boyfriend. Then Addie gets pregnant. Her choice to have an abortion, although significant, is just one of many in her larger coming-of-age story. Addie muses on morality, religion, and sexuality; her observations are thought-provoking, wry, and bitingly smart. Addie easily outshines the “issues” in this remarkable verse novel. (Greenwillow, 2016)

The Summer Prince Four hundred years after nuclear war devastated the world, the Brazilian city of Palmares Três thrives as an isolationist matriarchy. In The Summer Prince, author Alaya Dawn Johnson’s precise prose evokes an utterly foreign setting complete with technologies that push at the limits of what it means to be human. The relationships that delineate the social landscape are intriguingly unconventional and startling in their intensity. (Scholastic/Levine, 2013)

Ask the PassengersAstrid would be the quintessential Q-for-Questioning girl in her high school’s LGBTQ support group if her small-town school had such a thing — and the gay question is only one of many weighing her down. She sends her questions to the passengers in planes she sees overhead; each time, readers get a glimpse of a passenger’s own struggle with Astrid’s question. A. S. King’s Ask the Passengers is a furiously smart and funny coming-out-and-of-age novel. (Little, 2012)

lo_adaptationWhen birds start intentionally crashing into airplanes, Reese is stranded at the airport. Later, after crashing a rental car, she wakes to discover mysterious repairs to her extensive injuries. Malinda Lo’s novel Adaptation, set in a just-future United States, is absolutely compelling, and a sharp twist at the climax makes everything that happened an even more satisfying puzzle to unravel. Look for sequel Inheritance. (Little, 2012)

lo_ashIn Ash (also by Lo), Ash lives in a pseudo-historical Celtic society in which magic is just starting to be regarded as superstition. She first meets Sidhean, a handsome, seductive fairy, then forms an unlikely friendship — and falls in love — with the king’s huntress, Kaisa. The juxtaposition of Kaisa and Sidhean as Ash’s suitors invites readers to consider the nature of fictional and folkloric constructs of romantic ideals. Look for prequel Huntress. (Little, 2009)

mesrobian_cuts-both-waysAs his dad’s addiction gets out of hand, Will, protagonist of Carrie Mesrobian’s Cut Both Ways, starts fooling around with his male best friend Angus (even though Will is “not gay”). At the same time, he begins a relationship with female sophomore Brandy. The fully realized characters and their stories are captivating, but readers should be prepared for a mature tale of sex, obsession, and emotional turmoil. (HarperCollins/Harper, 2015)

moskowitz_not-otherwise-specifiedHannah Moskowitz’s tell-it-like-it-is book Not Otherwise Specified questions labels of teens who live on the edges of high school social groups. Etta, the unpredictable, authentic protagonist, is many things at once: smart, a recovering anorexic, bisexual, a theater geek, and black. Her Nebraska town is becoming too small for her New York City aspirations. The dialogue holds true to the gutsy characters, and the plot is believable. (Simon Pulse, 2015)

rowell_carry onIn Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl companion novel Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow, Simon Snow, the most powerful mage in centuries, uncovers secrets that call into question his beliefs about good and evil. He also realizes that his obsession with his probably-a-vampire roommate Baz may not be purely antagonistic. The novel is longer than it needs to be — just kiss already, Simon and Baz — but there’s much to enjoy along the way. (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2015)

russo_if i was your girlEighteen-year-old transgender woman Amanda goes to live with her previously unsupportive father in Tennessee, where no one knows her from her pre-transition life. She finds unexpected friendships and a blossoming relationship with tender and respectful Grant, who has a complicated past of his own. Amanda’s story is neither overly sentimental nor didactic. Author Meredith Russo, herself a trans woman, crafts a thoughtful, truthful coming-of-age tale in If I Was Your Girl. (Flatiron, 2016)

ryan_empress-of-the-worldAt a summer institute for gifted high-school students, Nicola finds herself attracted to another girl. Nic’s uncertainty about whether she’s either lesbian or bisexual is believably conveyed, and the dialogue is convincingly realistic. Despite a flimsily constructed conflict, YA readers are sure to embrace the believable passions in Sara Ryan’s summer-romance novel Empress of the World. (Viking, 2001)

sanchez_boyfriends-with-girlfriendsIn Alex Sanchez’s Boyfriends with Girlfriends, Lance (gay) and Sergio (bisexual) have feelings for one another, but both are afraid of getting hurt. Lance’s best friend Allie (ostensibly straight) has a boyfriend (straight), but she’s feeling attracted to Sergio’s gal pal Kimiko (lesbian). There’s some uneven dialogue and the four main characters’ voices aren’t very well distinguished, but readers may relate to this happily-ever-after tale of shifting identities. (Simon, 2011)

sharpe_far-from-youSophie was there when her best friend, Mina, was murdered, but she doesn’t know by whom, or why. So Sophie launches her own investigation, knowing that Mina’s death isn’t related to Sophie’s painkiller addiction, as everyone else seems to think. A tense, tragic page-turner, Tess Sharpe’s Far from You has plenty of chills, but just as compelling is the depth of Sophie’s physical and emotional pain. (Hyperion, 2014)

stiefvater_raven-boysIn The Raven Boys (the first book in The Raven Cycle series), a legend claims a medieval Welsh nobleman named Glendower vanished to avoid capture after the English defeated his army. Fast-forward to present-day Virginia, where four boys believe that Glendower is eternally sleeping and was brought over to the New World along “mystical energy roads.” Maggie Stiefvater’s prose falls flat in places, but the fast pace and intriguing concept make up for any flaws. The story continues in sequels The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and The Raven King. (Scholastic, 2012)

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