LGBT YA Book Covers: Then and Now…

Posted April 27, 2014 by Brin in LGBT Month / 8 Comments

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LGBT Month is hosted by Laura @ Laura Plus Books and Cayce @ Fighting Dreamer.  It runs throughout the month of April and it’s here to celebrate LGBT+ readers, LGBT+ authors and of course LGBT+ books.

LGBT YA Book Covers: Then and Now…

I have always been a little bit fascinated by how dramatically book covers can change over the years, especially in the YA genre (for example have you seen the difference in Sarah Dessen’s books – how they looked when they were first released in the mid-late 90s compared to what the covers look like now? Check them out – it is actually quite funny just how different they are!). LGBTQ books and how they are presented and packaged, have also changed majorly over the years. Below are some examples of books with significant LGBTQ content and how their covers have evolved over time.


Happy Endings Are All Alike by Sandra Scoppettone

happy endings are all alike

Sandra Scoppettone’s 1978 lesbian young adult romance was a novel ahead of its time. The story follows the relationship between high school seniors Jaret and Peggy. At a time when girls were only allowed to date boys, Jaret and Peggy know they had to keep their love a secret. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and before long they have to contend with the confusion and outright hatred of those closest to them. But nothing compares to the danger ahead, and the tragedy that will not just test their faith in their relationship, but their belief in themselves.

Synopsis from Goodreads

“Hello,” I Lied by M. E. Kerr

hello i lied

When Lang Penner has the chance to spend his sixteenth summer at the ritzy East Hampton retreat of retired rock star Ben Nevada, he knows that it will be a summer he’ll never forget. But even Lang is surprised at what happens — he finds himself coming out to his friends, re-evaluating his relationship with his boyfriend, and most shockingly — falling in love with a girl.

From acclaimed author M. E. Kerr, this is a powerfully moving novel of a young man’s struggle to come to terms with his sexuality, his emotions, and ultimately himself.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden

annie on my mind

This groundbreaking book is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. This book is so truthful and honest, it has been banned from many school libraries and even publicly burned in Kansas City.

Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Nancy Garden has the distinction of being the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending. Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves.”

Synopsis from Goodreads

Stir-Fry by Emma Donoghue

stir-fry 1

Seventeen and sure of nothing, Maria has left her parents’ small-town grocery for university life in Dublin. An ad in the Student Union – “2 ♀ seek flatmate. No bigots.” – leads Maria to a home with warm Ruth and wickedly funny Jael, students who are older and more fascinating than she’d expected.

A poignant, funny, and sharply insightful coming-of-age story, Stir-Fry is a lesbian novel that explores the conundrum of desire arising in the midst of friendship and probes feminist ideas of sisterhood and non-possessiveness.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Whistle Me Home by Barbara Wersba

whistle me home

Seventeen-year-old Noli feels as if she has found her soul mate when handsome, sensitive TJ moves to Sag Harbor, but even as their feelings deepen, individual secrets threaten their relationship.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Hey, Dollface by Deborah Hautzig

hey dollface

Val and Chloe don’t fit in at their fancy private school in Manhattan. Together, they ditch school, visit cemeteries and thrift shops and have sleepovers during which they confide all their secret thoughts. Lately, Val has all kinds of questions. Especially about sex. So Val turns to the two people who have always given her the most honest answers possible: her mother and Chloe. Unfortunately, not even Val’s mother (an adult!?) has all the answers. Val starts to think that maybe she’s not “normal” at all. Because she has some other feelings for Chloe. Feelings that she never expected to have. Would Chloe think those feelings were wrong? And her biggest question of all: How do you separate loving someone as a friend and the other kind of love? Or do they cross over sometimes?

Acclaimed author Deborah Hautzig’s 1978 novel is an unforgettable exploration of friendship and love and all the invisible lines that come with them.

Synopsis from Goodreads

When Love Comes To Town by Tom Lennon

when love comes to town

The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school, and is just a regular guy. A guy who’s gay. It’s a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self—and to whom. First published in Ireland in 1993 and compared to The Catcher in the Rye by critics, Tom Lennon’s When Love Comes to Town is told with honesty, humor, and originality.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Trying Hard To Hear You by Sandra Scoppettone

trying hard to hear you1

A close-knit summer theater group discovers that two of its members are gay. By the end of summer, the narrator writes, “two of us were going to suffer like we never had before.”

Synopsis from Goodreads

Dance On My Grave by Aidan Chambers

dance on my grave

In this revelatory, groundbreaking novel, the love of sixteen-year-old Hal Robinson for self-confident Barry Gorman is revealed through Hal’s own observations, press clippings, and the scattered notes of a social worker. These various perspectives contribute to an extraordinarily sensitive portrait of the intensity of first love.

The Horn Book writes, “The author is marvelously gifted at suggesting the ecstasy and insecurity that accompany new love—including its emotional and physical, social and spiritual aspects. A major strength of the book, the central conflict hinges not on the lovers being gay, but on their having two idiosyncratic and contradictory personalities.”

Synopsis from Goodreads

Just Be Gorgeous by Barbara Wersba

just be gorgeous

Feeling unattractive, untalented, and misunderstood by her parents, a New York City teenager realizes that she is someone special through her friendship with a homeless street performer.

Synopsis from Goodreads


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8 responses to “LGBT YA Book Covers: Then and Now…

  1. I love this post. It certainly gave me an inspiration to read these Classics lot. The only book I’m familiar with is When Love Comes to Town, but that’s because it was on Net Galley last year.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks! I love seeing all the different editions for books – I remember covers better than titles too. 🙂

      I remember When Love Comes to Town being up on Netgalley!!

  2. “Trying Hard” by Scoppettone is my fave GLBTQ+ book ever! (I will review it in a couple of days, I think). And “Happy Endings” is on my TBR list. I would also recommend “Talk” by Kathe Koja. And I liked “Deliver Us from Evie” by M.E. Kerr.

    Some of your books were new to me, and they will, of course, be investigated on Goodreads ;). Also, I liked what you did with the covers. I take it they’re all in chronological order?

    • I love Sandra Scoppettone’s books – Happy Endings was the first LBGBT book I can remember reading. Thanks for the recommendations – I will seek them out. 😀

      The books are in chronological order for the most part – some were out the same year (just different editions) so I wasn’t as picky with them. 😉

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