Tired of heteronormative narrative? Here are five queer books to fill the void on your shelf
The commercialized love season is often made to be heteronormative. From cards with gendered “lovebirds” in male and female pairs to commercial ads depicting a man buying a ring for his girlfriend, Valentine’s Day and the weeks leading up to it look like an ambush of heteronormative relationships.
There is already so little media representation of the LGBTQ+ community. To balance out the intake of heterosexual relationships in this post-Valentine’s Day season, here are some quality queer romance novel picks.
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
During her career in Old Hollywood, Evelyn Hugo had seven husbands, but only one love of her life. The movie star arranges a series of meetings with a struggling journalist, Monique, in order to write her revealing autobiography. As Hugo recounts his obstacles in old Hollywood, Monique realizes she’s more connected to her than she ever wanted.
This novel takes the reader through every public and private relationship of the reclusive actress. Reid explores Evelyn Hugo’s bisexuality, from her romantic marriage gone wrong to her “beard” relationship with her male best friend as they both secretly date those of the same sex.
“They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera
In the world of Silvera, there is a service that notifies an individual 24 hours before their death. Luckily, for lonely people like Mateo and Rufus, there’s an app where individuals can connect with each other in their final hours. Mateo and Rufus reunite to go on an adventure together in their final hours. The two connect as they travel to important places in their lives: a cemetery, the hospital, and a club.
The novel follows the two as they develop and realize their feelings for each other. Yet even knowing how the story will end, it ends with a heartbreaking scene.
“Written in the Stars” by Alexandria Bellefleur
Fan of “Pride and Prejudice”, but tired of the heteronormative narrative? Meet Elle and Darcy: one is a happily whimsical bisexual woman, the other a calculated, logic-driven lesbian. As Elle’s astrology app begins to take off, her co-worker decides to set her up on a date with her sister, but it doesn’t go well. Yet as the two enter into a fake relationship, the lines between fake and real blur as feelings develop.
Bellefleur best portrays the two opposite polar women. The rom-com novel has all the best shots of romantic fiction and sprinkles in an astrological perspective.
“What to Talk About” by Meryl Wilsner
Need another queer Hollywood romance novel? Wilsner’s book portrays Jo Jones, a former actress and now award-winning showrunner, as the tabloids swarm with rumors of an affair with her assistant. During the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards show, the world decides to focus on the close relationship between Jo and his assistant Emma. The rumors complicate their work and personal lives, as different situations lead the two to realize that the rumors might not be too untrue.
The novel navigates racism, sexism, sexual harassment, and homophobia in Hollywood as office romance on a public stage becomes more than either character bargained for.
“Malice” by Heather Walter
Have you ever watched “Sleeping Beauty” or “Maleficent” and thought, man, would it be so good if it was modernized and also weird? Walter’s novel tells a modernized version of the classic fairy tale. Alyce is a dark fairy of evil bloodline, the Dark Grace, working in Briar alongside those who ostracized her. The princess is not meant to fall in love with her, especially when the king uses Alyce’s dark gifts for evil.
This novel is dark, but still has all the romantic qualities of a twisted fairy tale. Walter’s second book in this duology, “Misrule,” is set for release on May 10, 2022.
“Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Levithan’s book gently details the story of Paul and Noah, two high school sophomores, as they navigate friendship, family, and falling in love. The Levithan Crafts High School bubble in the book is much more favorable than many get the chance, but that’s what makes it so beautiful. The school’s star quarterback, for example, is a “transvestite” who goes by Infinite Darlene. The neighborhood Boy Scouts rename themselves “Joy Scouts” because the Boy Scouts don’t accept. It’s the haven gay tweens can only dream of, and it’s heartwarming to read something that doesn’t focus on a gay character being bullied or having to hide their sexuality. Paul hurts Noah, and Paul wants Noah back. Boy meets boy, simple as that. As a young adult novel, it’s a quick read, but also a romantic comedy that packs a punch.
Other books worth checking out:
“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston, “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller, “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston, “Annie on My Mind” by Nancy Garden, “The Price of Salt” – Patricia Highsmith , “Boyfriend Material” by Alexis Hall, “The Dark Tide” by Alicia Jasinska, “The Midnight Lie” by Marie Rutkoski and “Plain Bad Heroines” by emily m. danforth.