Romance / YA

10 Heartfelt Books Like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Simon Spier and his adorkable email exchanges with the mysterious Blue took the world by storm in 2015. Followed by the movie adaptation Love, Simon and the spin-off TV series Love, Victor, the Creekwood universe continues to endear its fans with compelling and poignant storylines. If you’re inspired by the ups and downs of navigating friendship, love, and identity, here are 10 queer contemporary YA books like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda that might spark your interest.

1. Leah On The Offbeat, by Becky Albertalli

Although Simon vs. follows the journey of the titular character, it is impossible to ignore his equally charming group of friends. In Leah On The Offbeat, his bestie Leah Burke takes the spotlight. Struggling with the emotional turmoil of home life and senior year, Leah hides her bisexual identity and her skill for visual art from everyone, even her close friends. When a road trip to visit colleges reveals surprising feelings for a friend, Leah slowly learns to open up and appreciate her true self. With Albertalli’s masterful storytelling, you’ll easily find yourself rooting for Leah.

2. What If It’s Us, by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

From YA superstars Silvera and Albertalli comes What If It’s Us, a marvellous collaboration that will touch your heart. Arthur is visiting New York City for the summer, excited for a chance to experience romance and Broadway in the big city. After breaking up with his boyfriend, Ben is entirely jaded when it comes to the fate of the universe. When they randomly cross paths in a post office, sparks fly. But in a city as big as New York, will they be able to find each other again? Told in alternating points of view, this novel considers the mystic workings of the universe, and that things don’t always go according to plan.

3. Meet Cute Diary, by Emery Lee

By debut author Emery Lee, Meet Cute Diary follows the story of triracial trans boy Noah Ramirez. As a so-called expert of happily-ever-afters, Noah runs a secret blog where he posts positive romantic stories featuring trans folk. When his blog is revealed as a sham, Noah is desperate to save its reputation. That means fake-dating Drew and writing real stories about their experiences. But he quickly discovers that fiction and reality are two separate beasts, and love isn’t as easy as it seems.

4. You Should See Me In A Crown, by Leah Johnson

As a Black queer teen from a poor family, Liz Lighty already feels out of place in her small town. When her financial aid for university unexpectedly falls through, she must overcome her self-consciousness to win the title of Prom Queen and the associated scholarship. While her friends support her through the competition, she meets new girl Mack, also running for Queen. Friendly competition transforms into fluffy romance as Mack draws Liz out of her shell, despite high school drama throwing obstacles in her path. This best-selling debut is a must-read for anyone struggling to fit in.

5. I Wish You All The Best, by Mason Deaver

Ben De Backer is non-binary. After coming out to their parents, they are kicked out and forced to build a new life with their estranged older sister who escaped their toxic household when Ben was young. Grappling with anxiety and rejection, they meet enthusiastic Nathan Allan, who immediately befriends Ben and proves that they deserve happiness. I Wish You All The Best is a heart-wrenching story of loss and love, and Ben realizes that not all relationships can be mended, but the people who truly matter will stick around.

6. Jay’s Gay Agenda, by Jason June

Jay is the only openly gay kid in town, and he’s sick of hearing about his classmates’ heterosexual conquests. To cope, he decides to keep an agenda of all the relationship milestones he eventually hopes to reach. When his family relocates to a new city, he suddenly finds himself in the midst of a huge queer community, and plenty of people who can help complete his list. Jay’s Gay Agenda is a sex-positive YA novel that explores the ebbs and flows of young romance and the drama it often incites.

7. Perfect On Paper, by Sophie Gonzales

Bisexual Darcy Phillips runs an anonymous advice-giving service out of a locker, easily solving everyone else’s relationship problems even though she can’t seem to manage her own love life. In comes Alexander Brougham, who stumbles upon her secret gig and requests that Darcy help him get his girlfriend back. Worried that her crush on her friend Brooke will leak to the public, she agrees, but she soon realizes that Brougham isn’t as bad as she thought. Perfect On Paper addresses the policing of sexual identity and stands as a validating and empowering read.

8. Some Girls Do, by Jennifer Dugan

After track star Morgan gets kicked out of her Catholic school for being a lesbian, she transfers to another high school for a new start. There she encounters Ruby, a girl with a penchant for tuning up old cars and participating in beauty pageants to please her mother. As their relationship blooms, conflict arises, since Ruby is not ready to be publicly out. With each of them living out vastly different queer experiences, will their relationship stand the test?

9. The Henna Wars, by Adiba Jaigirdar

Nishat’s Bengali Muslim parents don’t take it well when she comes out as a lesbian. Instead, they decide to avoid her in the hopes she’ll change. At school, she instantly falls for biracial Brazilian girl Flávia. However, during a school competition to design a business, both Nishat and Flávia open up henna shops. While Nishat chooses it for cultural reasons, Flávia just wants to follow a trend, and their competition heats up as the two become rivals. Against the backdrop of an enemies-to-lovers romance, The Henna Wars tackles the notions of cultural appropriation and the intersection of race and sexuality.

10. How To Be Remy Cameron, by Julian Winters

Remy Cameron thinks he knows himself well: he’s popular in school, a good brother, president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, and an adopted Black teen. But does he? Or is he seeing himself through an external lens? When Remy’s teacher assigns an essay on the topic of identity, Remy draws a blank, realizing the extent to which other people have defined him. Through his familial and romantic relationships, Remy goes on a journey of personal growth to figure out who he really is. A profound character-driven story, How To Be Remy Cameron shows how we are much more than the labels we are given.

About Author

Emily Gula is a Canadian graduate student in French literature and a writer of YA/adult contemporary and fantasy. When she's not reading, writing, or studying literary theory, she enjoys cosplay, singing, and watching Korean dramas.

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