12 Queer YA Favourites of 2021

It’s been an incredible year for queer young adult fiction, with a dizzying array of novels that encompass the range and breadth of queer stories today. Here are twelve of our favourites (because our original plan of ten just wasn’t enough!) of 2021, in no particular order:


Henry Hamlet’s Heart by Rhiannon Wilde

Henry Hamlet doesn’t know what he wants after school ends. It’s his last semester of year twelve and all he’s sure of is his uncanny ability to make situations awkward. Luckily, he can always hide behind his enigmatic best friend, Len. They’ve been friends since forever, but where Len is mysterious, Henry is clumsy; where Len is a heart-throb, Henry is a neurotic mess. Somehow it’s always worked.

That is, until Henry falls. Hard. For the last person he imagined.

Our reviewer, Joe, says ‘I fell in love with Wilde’s world of richly drawn characters, especially the achingly complex Henry and Len.’

Suitable for readers aged 14 and up.


Stars in their Eyes by Jessica Walton & Aska

In this debut graphic novel, pop culture-obsessed Maisie can’t wait to get to her first Fancon. But being a queer, disabled teenager with chronic pain comes with challenges. Can Maisie make it through the day without falling over, falling in love or accidentally inspiring anyone?

Maisie has always dreamed of meeting her hero, Kara Bufano, an amputee actor who plays a kick-arse character in her favourite show. Then she meets Ollie, a cute volunteer who she has a lot in common with. Could this be the start of something?

Our reviewer, Lucie, says ‘As characters, Maisie and Ollie are unapologetically themselves, making them all the more loveable.’

Suitable for readers aged 11 and up.


The Boy from the Mish by Gary Lonesborough

Shortlisted for the Readings Young Adult Book Prize 2021

It’s a hot summer, and life’s going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It’s almost Christmas, school’s out, and he’s hanging with his mates. Just like every year, Jackson’s Aunty and little cousins visit from the city - but this time a mysterious boy with a troubled past comes with them…

As their friendship evolves, Jackson must confront the changing shapes of his relationships with his friends, family and community. And he must face his darkest secret - a secret he thought he’d locked away for good.

Suitable for readers aged 14 and up.


One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train. Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, with her rough edges, swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day.

August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like a punk rocker. She’s displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her.

Suitable for readers aged 15 and up.


Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Darcy Phillips: Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes - for a fee. Uses her power for good. Most of the time.

Really cannot stand the new Australian jock at school, Alexander Brougham. Does not appreciate being blackmailed. But when Brougham catches Darcy in the act of collecting letters from locker 89 - out of which she’s been running her anonymous relationship advice service - that’s exactly what happens.

Our reviewer, Kealy, calls it, ‘a wonderfully fresh take on the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope. Sophie Gonzales manages to weave thoughtful and necessary conversations surrounding bisexuality and biphobia among the shenanigans of Darcy’s adventures.’

Suitable for readers aged 14 and up.


Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, and the only thing that separates them is death.

Car headlights.The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars.

Ash will do anything to see Poppy again … even if it means they only get a few more days together.

Our Teen Advisory Board member Aurelia, says: ‘Heartfelt and bittersweet, Afterlove makes you truly appreciate the beauty that is around you, no matter how dark the times may get.’

Suitable for readers aged 14 and up.


Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Suitable for readers aged 14 and up.


Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

Hani Khan is easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they don’t believe her. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship… with a girl her friends can’t stand - Ishu Dey.

Ishu is the polar opposite of Hani. An academic overachiever, she hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for university. Her only problem? Becoming head girl is a popularity contest and Ishu is hardly popular. Pretending to date Hani is the only way she’ll stand a chance of being elected. Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other.

Suitable for ages 12 and up.


The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

Nora didn’t choose a life of deception - she was born into it. As the daughter of a con artist who targeted criminal men, Nora always had to play a part. But when her mother fell for one of the men instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con herself: escape.

For five years Nora’s been playing at normal - but things are far from it when she finds herself held at gunpoint in the middle of a bank heist, along with Wes (her ex-boyfriend) and Iris (her secret new girlfriend and mutual friend of Wes … awkward). Now it will take all of Nora’s con artistry skills to get them out alive.

Staff member, Angela, says: ‘this is fast-paced, action packed fury and fun. I couldn’t stop reading!’

Suitable for readers aged 14 and up.


Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Felix Love has never been in love - and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalisation too many - Black, queer and transgender - to ever get his own happily-ever-after. When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages - after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned - Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle…

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognising the love you deserve.

Suitable for readers aged 14 and up.


Anything But Fine by Tobias Madden

Luca is ready to audition for the Australian Ballet School. All it takes to crush his dreams is one missed step … and a broken foot. Jordan is the gorgeous rowing star and school captain of Luca’s new school. Everyone says he’s straight - but Luca’s not so sure.

As their unlikely bond grows stronger, Luca starts to wonder: who is he without ballet? And is he setting himself up for another heartbreak?

Teen Advisory Board member, David, calls it: ‘a touching rendition of the closeted-athlete-meets-out-outcast trope, breathing fresh air into the narrative with well-drawn, diverse characters.’

Suitable for readers aged 13 and up.


House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Iris Hollow and her two older sisters, Grey and Viv, are unquestionably strange.

Ever since they disappeared on a suburban street in Scotland as children only to return a month a later with no memory of what happened to them, odd, eerie occurrences seem to follow in their wake. And they’re changing. First, their dark hair turned white. Then, their blue eyes slowly turned black. They have insatiable appetites yet never gain weight. People find them disturbingly intoxicating, unbearably beautiful and inexplicably dangerous.

Now, ten years later, seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow is doing all she can to fit in and graduate high school. But when Grey goes missing, leaving behind only bizarre clues, Iris and Vivi are left to trace her last few days. They aren’t the only ones looking for her.

Our reviewer, Angela, said ‘This is not only a contemporary twisted fairytale; it is also an evocative rendering of the bonds of sisterhood: the almost instinctive telepathy that can sometimes occur between sisters, and the lengths they will go to protect and keep one another safe.’

Suitable for readers aged 13 and up.

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Henry Hamlet's Heart

Henry Hamlet’s Heart

Rhiannon Wilde

$19.99Buy now

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