Exploring Love in New Teen Graphic Novels

Love isn't always easy, and is often kind of confusing, as depicted in several new teen graphic novels. If you have an opportunity to read them, you'll soon discover that what's special about each is that they normalize LGBTQ relationships. They also help illustrate that relationships of all kinds are tricky, but if you listen closely to your inner thoughts, and trust your feelings, you'll know in your heart just when you've found the right one.

I think the best romance I read all summer was Bloom, which isn't only about falling in love with a person, but more about feeling comfortable in your own skin and feeling passionate about who you are and what you bring to the world. Ari thinks he'll find true happiness in the city with his friends, checking out bands and performing in one too, but the truth is he really doesn't know what he wants, and he's unhappy.

What I like best about Hector's arrival in Ari's seaside village is that he doesn't offer all the answers, but instead helps Ari rediscover the joy in his life. Between showing Hector his favorite places to watch fireworks or star gaze, and seeing his parents, their life at the bakery and their "beautiful phyllo" through Hector's eyes, Ari starts to appreciate and love his life a little more, which opens him up to more romantic possibilities. Deliciously heart-warming, this beautifully illustrated graphic novel in pale turquoise blue illustrations throughout even includes a sourdough roll recipe rom the Kyrkos Family Bakery!

In Laura Dean Keeps Breaking up With Me, Laura is suave, sexy and captivating but, at the same time and - quite frankly - a selfish, inconsiderate jerk. Still, this doesn't keep Frederica (aka Freddy) from finding her "irresistible," and forgiving her for her many, many transgressions. As she seeks online relationship advice from Anna Vice, starts to reexamine Buddy and Eric's relationship (which she thought was perfect), and neglects her best friend, Doodle, when she needs her most, Freddy starts to feel much older and wiser, as well as less judgmental about what makes a relationship work.

Kiss Number 8 introduces Amanda (Mads), who is best friends with her dad. She thought they shared everything together, including their deep love for the "Valley of the Hidden" show and baseball, but she's suddenly noticing he's not being 100% honest with her... and then Catherine (Cat) sneaks Mads into some punk shows with drinks and introduces her to a new group, including Jess, who mentions she's picking up on a "queer vibe" from Mads. Suddenly Mads begins to reexamine her entire life, and it looks completely different.

The Avant-Guards is a light-hearted romp and look at Charlie's first few weeks as a transfer student at the Georgia O'Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, where she meets Olivia (Liv), an optimist who is instantly drawn to her. Liv is not only an actress, but also a self-proclaimed entrepreneur who is determined to become the captain of a new women's sports team for which she needs one more player, if only she can help Charlie realize how much she can bring to their team.

As we near National Coming Out Day (October 11), I think it's great to read about and see queer characters falling in and out of love, discovering who they are and what they want, and finding supportive communities to buffer or eradicate any extreme homophobia. That's all I'll write about for now, but I'm looking forward to discovering and reading more soon. What teen romance - queer, graphic novel or not - have you read and enjoyed so far this year?

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