Same-Sex Parents in YA Literature
By Lauren Becker
Some of the books I have read recently have featured same-sex parents and it led me to think about other YA titles that do the same. I feel like this is a really interesting and great way to include homosexuality in YA novels without making that the point
. Yes, it's always great to have main characters that identify as LGBT+ in a story line that is not necessarily about "coming out" and their sexuality. Regardless, I think same-sex parents is something that should be featured in YA novels more, as it becomes more and more common in real life.
Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters is actually a book where the same-sex parents play a big part in the story. This is a story about Nick, who was born through in vitro fertilization. As a teenager, his moms start to have personal issues and it places Nick between the two of them. Parental strife and divorce are a common issue, and I appreciate that Peters wrote a novel that focuses on how that works between a same-sex couple and their children. It's not all that different from a heterosexual couple and it's important that people realize this. Books tell stories, but they also shine a light on real life.
Next, we have Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid, which mostly focuses on best friends Julia and Dave. In this novel, Julia has two dads. She has a mom but she's not around much, as she prefers to travel around the world and send postcards of her adventures. Julia admires her mom and wants to live an exciting life like her some day. However, in her everyday, it is her dads that are the ones that are there. They are great guys and wonderful parents. The fact that they are gay and parenting a teen girl isn't the focus of the book. They act like any other parent, and it's books like these that are just as important as the ones that focus on the topic more (like Between Mom and Jo).
Lola and the Boy Next Door is about an eccentric teen named Lola who loves to make her own clothes, and as the title gives away, falls for the adorable boy next door. Lola also has two dads. Her mom is part of the book in a way, but she's someone that can't take care of herself and Lola has a difficult time understanding her and feeling compassion. The fact that Lola has two dads is never an issue though. Like Julia's parents in Never Always Sometimes, Lola's dads are your regular parents. They want the best for her and they get upset when she does something wrong. Nothing too scandalous or upsetting there, right?
Finally, we have Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa. There are two boys in this book that are not straight, but one of them, Jeremy, also has two dads. One of them was married to his mom and had him, then they got divorced, and his dad fell in love with a man named Dave. Jeremy's mom isn't around and so he's only really ever known his dad and Dave. It's normal for him. It's not until he gets a hard time at school because of his parents finally getting married that Jeremy realizes that what he views as a normal family situation isn't seen the same way by others. It affects him a great deal, but the book isn't entirely about Jeremy's relationship with his dads. Them being gay and together does play a bigger part than Never Always Sometimes or Lola and the Boy Next Door, but it's still just an aspect of Jeremy's life, just like many other YA books where the character has a story line that deals with their parents.
I'm sure these four books are only a drop in the YA pool of novels where the main character has parents that are same-sex. The examples I gave include two moms with a son, two dads with a son, and two books where two dads have a girl. From this sample, I think there should be more books with two moms, but I'm sure there are a lot of other examples beyond Between Mom and Jo.
What do you think about same-sex parents in YA novels? What other books would you recommend?