What to Read if You Can’t Get Enough Heartstopper
I have a friend who is now into double digit viewings of Heartstopper. And shockingly, that friend is not actually me. I aspire to one day be that level of fan. Whether you’ve been following Nick and Charlie since their first appearance on the page, came to their story in webcomic or graphic novel format, or fell in love with the superb Netflix adaptation, chances are you’re looking for more stories like theirs. While we do all have to wait for more Heartstopper (cries eternally), the good news is there are many, many, many more books and characters to fall in love with. So, if you’re looking for more delightfully queer romantic reads to hold you over, look no further!
Julian Jackson has a short to-do list for his senior year at Crenshaw County High School in Meridien, Texas: football, football, and more football. He knows he’s only got one chance to earn a college scholarship and make it out of his small town, and keeping his head down, his grades up, and his cleats on the field is that one chance. And then Elijah Vance walks back into his life, throwing all of his carefully-laid plans into a tailspin.
Elijah and Julian used to be best friends, maybe even on their way to something more than just friends. But three years ago, Elijah broke into the school to steal money from the coach’s office, and Julian was the one who turned him in. After that, Elijah and his family disappeared without a trace. And now he’s back, sitting at Julian’s grandmother’s kitchen table.
But time and distance haven’t erased all of their feelings, and Elijah knows that he finally has a chance to prove to Julian that he’s not the same person he was three years ago. But with secrets still growing between them and an uncertain future barreling towards them, it may be harder to lean on each other than they thought.
by L. C. Rosen
Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim—who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.
This year, however, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’—buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.
But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself: How much is he willing to change for love? And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?
Harriet Price is the perfect student: smart, dutiful, over-achieving. Will Everhart is a troublemaker who’s never met an injustice she didn’t fight. When their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the unlikely duo reluctantly team up to expose his misdeeds, pulling provocative pranks and creating the instantly legendary Amelia Westlake–an imaginary student who helps right the many wrongs of their privileged institution. But as tensions burn throughout their school–who is Amelia Westlake?–and between Harriet and Will, how long can they keep their secret? How far will they go to make a difference? And when will they realize they’re falling for each other?
Fence: Striking Distance
by Sarah Rees Brennan
Illustrated by Johanna The Mad
Created by C.S. Pacat
Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion who dreams of getting the proper training he could never afford. After earning a place on the elite Kings Row fencing team, Nicholas must prove himself to his rival, Seiji Katayma, and navigate the clashes, friendships, and relationships between his teammates on the road to state championships–where Nicholas might finally have the chance to spar with his golden-boy half-brother.
Coach Williams decides to take advantage of the boys’ morale after a recent victory and assigns them a course of team building exercises to further deepen their bonds. It takes a shoplifting scandal, a couple of moonlit forest strolls, several hilariously bad dates, and a whole lot of introspection for the team to realize they are stronger together than they could ever be apart.
When Suzette returns to Los Angeles from the boarding school where she was forced to spend the past semester, she’s uncertain of whether she wants to return to Massachusetts or stay in California. CA is where her friends and family are (as well as her crush, Emil); and her step-brother Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.
When Suzette and Lionel begin to fall in love with the same girl, however, Lionel’s disorder takes a turn for the worse and spirals out of control, forcing Suzette to confront her own demons. Having betrayed a secret girlfriend in her boarding school, allowing her to take the brunt of homophobic bullying, Suzette must face her own past mistakes, come to terms with her bisexuality, and find a way to help her brother, before he hurts himself–or worse.
Jonathan Hopkirk, a Walt Whitman fan, and Adam “Kurl” Kurlansky, a football player, are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment.
With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and familial strife, Jonathan and Kurl must struggle to hold onto their relationship—and each other.
Penny and Tate have always clashed. Unfortunately, their mothers are lifelong best friends, so the girls’ bickering has carried them through playdates, tragedy, and more than one rom-com marathon with the Moms. When Penny’s mother decides to become a living donor to Tate’s mom, ending her wait for a liver transplant, things go from clashing to cataclysmic. Because in order to help their families recover physically, emotionally, and financially, the Moms combine their households the summer before senior year.
So Penny and Tate make a pact: They’ll play nice. Be the drama-free daughters their mothers need through this scary and hopeful time. There’s only one little hitch in their plan: Penny and Tate keep almost kissing.
It’s just this confusing thing that keeps happening. You know, from time to time. For basically their entire teenaged existence.
They’ve never talked about it. They’ve always ignored it in the aftermath. But now they’re living across the hall from each other. And some things—like their kisses—can’t be almosts forever.