LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels Reading List


Here at Pine Reads Review, we enthusiastically love diverse books of all sorts, and those sharing the stories of members of the LGBTQ+ community are no exception! While there are countless incredible books for young readers containing LBGTQ+ characters and themes, one of the most abundant sources of these is graphic novels. Spanning every genre from romance to fantasy to science fiction and everything in between, the YA graphic novels we’re highlighting today tell important and beautiful LGBTQ+ stories in a vibrant, accessible manner that readers of all ages will love. Without further ado, here is a list of some of our favorite YA graphic novels celebrating the LGBTQ+ community:

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Starting this list off with a bang is Heartstopper, the first in a beloved series of graphic novels chronicling the wholesome love story of teen boys Nick and Charlie. After being assigned to sit next to each other in class, Nick and Charlie become fast friends and soon start spending more and more time together. Charlie, who is openly gay, feels himself falling for Nick. But Nick is straight. Or is he? After reading just a few pages, it becomes clear why this series is so popular. Nick and Charlie are two of the sweetest and purest characters of all time. It’s impossible not to root for them to find love and happiness. There is excellent representation across the full spectrum in this book, not just with Nick and Charlie, but with their friends as well. The book also acknowledges the ways that exploring one’s sexuality can be confusing and stressful, even with support. What really sets this story apart, though, is its consistent emphasis on kindness and warmth. Oseman doesn’t shy away from harsh realities such as bullying or mental health issues, but she portrays her characters’ struggles with sensitivity and compassion. This narrative acts as a reminder that there is always hope to be had, and is a big part of what makes Heartstopper such a comforting read. 

Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau

Bloom tells the story of Ari and Hector, two boys struggling to find their place in the world. Ari, a recent high school graduate, dreams of moving to the city with his band. But instead, he’s stuck helping his parents run the family bakery (unless he can find someone to replace him, that is). Enter Hector, a culinary student in town cleaning out his recently deceased grandmother’s house. Hector gladly accepts the job at the bakery, and Ari is thrilled to have found a way out. But as the two boys grow closer, Ari begins to realize that what he wants might not be so simple. There’s something so soothing about this book, from its beach setting to the blue color scheme, and of course, all the baking. If you love watching Great British Bake Off or fell into the pandemic trend of homemade sourdough bread, you’re sure to be charmed by this sweet story. Just don’t read it on an empty stomach!

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag

Morgan is having a rough time. Her parents have recently separated, her little brother is acting out, and she’s also keeping a big secret: she’s gay. Morgan can’t wait to escape the tiny island that she calls home so she can finally be herself. But one night, a selkie named Keltie saves Morgan from drowning and the two share a kiss, which allows Keltie to transform into a human. Keltie’s sudden appearance rocks Morgan’s world, making it harder to keep her true self hidden from those around her. Not only does this book contain a wholesome romance, but it’s also a story of self-discovery and a family reconnecting after hard times. All these qualities combined with the picturesque setting make The Girl from the Sea the perfect summer read for anyone who dreams of escaping to an island or dipping their toes in the ocean.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

This enchanting graphic novel follows teen witch Nova as she reconnects with her childhood friend Tam, who just so happens to be a werewolf. The story is set in the small New England town where Nova’s aunts run a magical bookshop, making this the perfect spooky season read. While there is plenty of wholesome romance and cozy content to be found within the pages of this book, there is also some high stakes action. Evil forces are working to take possession of Tam’s wolf magic, and our main characters are determined to stop them before it’s too late. The story also tackles the childhood trauma Nova and Tam experienced, and how they are able to support one another as they deal with their own individual pain. For fans of fantasy and romance alike, Mooncakes pairs perfectly with a pumpkin treat and your favorite hot drink. 

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

While there are many words to describe this book, epic is the first that comes to mind. Containing over five hundred pages of heart-pounding action, laugh-out-loud humor, and breathtaking celestially inspired illustrations, this graphic novel is out of this world. With no shortage of world building or character development, reading this book truly feels like going on a journey. Shifting between dual timelines set five years apart, On a Sunbeam tells the story of Mia, a girl living in a world where humans live among the stars and space travel is commonplace. We see Mia during her school days, when she fell in love with mysterious new girl Grace, and years later as a member of a crew of deep space restorationists. The variety of settings, including a boarding school, a spaceship, and several distant planets, make for an incredibly engaging and atmospheric read. There is a huge emphasis placed on friendship and found family in this book, and no shortage of heartwarming relationships, both platonic and romantic. 

Nimona by ND Stevenson

Lord Blackheart, a knight turned supervillain with an axe to grind with the institution (and man) that cost him everything, is in need of a sidekick. Enter a mischievous shapeshifter named Nimona, and things start to get a bit wild. Following Blackheart and Nimona on their various schemes and quest to reveal the truth about Sir Goldenloin and the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics to the kingdom, this graphic novel truly has something for everyone. Fans of love stories will appreciate the second chance, enemies to lovers romance. Superhero and fantasy enthusiasts will enjoy the nods to (and subversions of) both genres. There’s also an interesting exploration of anti-heroes and the idea that the villain in a story might not always be who you expect. If you’ve been on the hunt for a truly unique read, look no further than this hilarious and heartfelt book!

PRR Writer, Emily Pimental