The love story between rugby boy Nick Nelson and the charmingly nerdy Charlie Spring has captivated readers since the YA novelist Alice Oseman began publishing their story online in 2016. Now available to buy as a series of four graphic novels—with a fifth and final volume due to be released in 2023—Heartstopper has sold more than a million copies, while a new Netflix adaptation has brought the story of high school romance to a new audience. But if you’ve already rewatched the show’s first season, fruitlessly refreshed Oseman’s latest posts, and read all the books in the Heartstopper universe (including Solitaire and Nick & Charlie), we have some suggestions for more books like Heartstopper for those who just can’t wait any longer for a new fix of teen romance and other narratives of coming to terms with one’s sexuality.
In Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s multi-award-winning young adult novel, we meet Ari Mendoza and Dante Quintana—two very different Mexican American teenagers living in 1980s New Mexico. We follow their relationship develop over three years, as the boys struggle to figure out their place in the world. A little like Nick Nelson, Ari is hesitant and uncertain when it comes to his love for the sweet-natured, carefree Dante—although in many ways his character is darker and more troubled than cheerful Nick. But this beautiful, lyrical book will capture your heart if you loved Heartstopper.
Ellie Crewes unpacks her long journey to coming out as a gay women in the form of a smart, sharp and self-aware graphic memoir that demonstrates how sexuality may not reveal itself in a linear fashion. An excellent book for those who, like Nick in Heartstopper, are still figuring out who they find attractive—and when they might be ready to go public. Alice Oseman herself described the The Times I Knew I Was Gay as “candid, so funny, and super relatable. Perfectly captures all of the confusing, complex, scary, and euphoric realizations in coming to terms with your sexuality.”
The YA manga series Given, written and illustrated by Natsuki Kizu, has been running since 2013 and features a group of four young Japanese men in an amateur rock band. As they rehearse, record and seek musical inspiration they begin to develop relationships with their fellow band members. Aimed at 13- to 17-year-olds, but including some older characters, Given has been adapted into a popular anime series. Oseman has described it as “a gorgeous YA story that explores queer romance and grief.” There are six volumes in the series so far.
Simon Spier is a gay sixteen-year-old boy who is not quite ready to come out at school yet—but when a classmate attempts to blackmail him over a cache of soul-baring emails between Simon and an anonymous penfriend, he decides it’s time to take control of his own narrative. This is a feelgood teen novel sitting somewhere between Heartstopper and You’ve Got Mail; the budding relationship between Simon and the secretive ‘Blue’ will make you smile. And if you enjoy this book, Albertalli’s follow up novel—Leah on the Off Beat—foregrounds Simon’s friend Leah experiences as a bisexual girl.
Kelly Quindlen is the author of a series of queer teen romances, including the fake-dating romcom She Drives Me Crazy and Late to the Party, a feelgood “ode to late bloomers.” Both celebrate high school life and platonic friendships as much as the central romance—something that is likely to appeal to fans of Oseman’s Heartstopper and Solitaire. In Late to the Party, never-been-kissed wallflower Codi Teller discovers her extrovert side, falls in with the popular set and develops a crush on her new friend Lydia. A charming story suitable for teenagers aged 12 to 18.
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