Recommended Reads for Young Adults: 9 LGBTQ Books by Indian Authors

Young Adults
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Team P3 shares a curated list of recommended reads for young adults as we share a list of 9 LGBTQ books by Indian Authors.

Even after all this time, the catalog of queer books in India for young adults is pretty limited. Yes, we’re seeing more and more books in recent years, but there’s a long distance to cover. The power of Young Adult literature lies in its ability to entertain as well as make young adults more aware.

The books we feature for young adult readers today, have a range of subjects, from coming-of-age stories to simply looking at normal teenagers going through a period of confusion and complexity, that stay with you long after that last page has been turned.

We encourage you to buy books from a local bookstore. If that is not possible, please use the links on the page and support us. Thank you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager or an adult, these narratives would make their way into your heart for certain. Let’s begin then, shall we?

Blue Boy

Title: Blue Boy

Author: Satyal Rakesh

Publisher: Roli Books

Price: 249

Pages: 248


In Blue Boy, the author puts a unique stamp on the traditional gay coming-of-age story. The protagonist, Kiran Sharma, is a twelve-year-old gay Indian American boy who feels isolated and confused in Middle America. Satyal beautifully captures Kiran’s journey of self-discovery and his identification with the Hindu god Krishna.

The book explores themes of identity, cultural clashes, and the desire for acceptance. Kiran’s character is colorful and multi-dimensional, making him relatable yet at times exasperating. Satyal skillfully portrays the evolution of coming-out stories over the years, showcasing Kiran’s boldness and individuality. With heartfelt moments and insightful perspectives, Blue Boy is a compelling and thought-provoking read for young adults.

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Best At It

Title: Best At It

Author: Maulik Pancholy

Publisher: Harper Children's

Price: 161

Pages: 336


This is a hilarious and heartwarming middle-grade novel for young adult readers, that captures the journey of Rahul Kapoor, a gay Indian American boy navigating the challenges of seventh grade.

Pancholy’s writing effortlessly blends humor and heartfelt moments as Rahul seeks to find his true passion and overcome the bullies at school. The story beautifully explores themes of friendship, family, and self-acceptance, resonating with readers of all ages.

Rahul’s relatable and authentic voice, along with the support of his beloved grandfather and best friend Chelsea, make this a compelling and important coming-of-age tale. Pancholy’s debut novel is a delightful and inspiring read that encourages readers to embrace their uniqueness and live their truth.

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Talking of Muskaan

Title: Talking of Muskaan

Author: Himanjali Sankar

Publisher: Duckbill Books

Price: 176

Pages: 160


Talking of Muskaan by Himanjali Sankar is a heartfelt novel for young adult readers that delves into the complexities of teenage life, friendship, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world.

The story revolves around Muskaan, a young girl battling for her life in the hospital, while her classmates Aaliya, Prateek, and Subhojoy reflect on their own lives and their connection to Muskaan. Sankar skillfully explores the themes of identity, secrets, and the pressures that can lead a young person to the brink.

With a perfect balance of humor and tragedy, Talking of Muskaan captures the emotions and challenges faced by teenagers, leaving readers deeply moved and contemplating the importance of compassion and understanding in our interactions with others.

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Hostel Room 131

Title: Hostel Room 131

Author: R. Raj Rao

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 212

Pages: 240


Himanjali Sankar’s Hostel Room 131 is a compelling exploration of love and homophobia. Set against the backdrop of 1970s and 1980s India, the novel follows Siddharth and Sudhir’s journey as they navigate their forbidden relationship in a society rife with prejudice.

Sankar’s writing skillfully captures the complexities faced by queer individuals, portraying the deep emotional connection between the protagonists with sensitivity. The book delves into the societal pressures and familial disapproval that threaten their love, while also highlighting the resilience of the human spirit.

Hostel Room 131 is an important contribution to queer literature, shining a light on the ongoing struggle against homophobia and offering a heartfelt portrayal of love’s endurance in the face of adversity.

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Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating

Title: Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating

Author: Adiba Jaigirdar

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Price: 422

Pages: 352


This is a heartfelt young adult novel that delves into the complexities of identity, friendship, and societal pressures. Through the story of Hani and Ishu, Adiba skillfully explores the challenges faced by bisexual individuals and the invalidation of their experiences.

Hani and Ishu’s contrasting personalities further add depth to their relationship, adding more drama to the story. Jaigirdar aptly captures the emotional journey of the protagonists as they navigate their fake dating arrangement, slowly discovering genuine feelings for each other.

The book also sheds light on cultural expectations and the obstacles faced by Bengali girls. With its authentic portrayal of diverse characters and thought-provoking themes, Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is a compelling read throughout.

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The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

Title: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

Author: Sabina Khan

Publisher: Scholastic

Price: 729

Pages: 336


The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores the clash between personal desires and cultural expectations. Rukhsana Ali’s struggle to reconcile her conservative Muslim upbringing with her own identity is portrayed beautifully and authentically here.

Khan beautifully captures the complexities of Rukhsana’s emotions as she navigates her budding romance with Ariana and the repercussions of being caught by her parents. The vivid descriptions of Bangladesh and the intergenerational connection through her grandmother’s diary add richness to the narrative.

This book is a compelling exploration of love, family, and the courage to fight for one’s true self. Sabina Khan’s writing is earnest, making The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali a must-read for anyone seeking a moving and culturally resonant story.

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We Are Totally Normal

Title: We Are Totally Normal

Author: Naomi Kanakia

Publisher: HarperTeen

Price: 358

Pages: 288


Through the story of Nandan, the author delves into the complexities of navigating relationships and grappling with one’s sexuality. Kanakia beautifully captures the internal struggle faced by Nandan as he questions his own desires and societal expectations.

The book skillfully portrays the emotional journey of self-acceptance and the challenges of coming to terms with one’s true identity. The book not only sheds light on important LGBTQ+ themes but also delves into broader themes of friendship, acceptance, and personal growth. With its authentic voice and compelling storytelling, We Are Totally Normal is a poignant coming-of-age tale that will resonate with readers seeking a genuine and introspective story.

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Scent of God

Title: Scent of God

Author: Saikat Majumdar

Publisher: Simon and Schuster India

Price: 329

Pages: 248


Scent of God by Saikat Majumdar is an intriguing novel set in an all-boys’ boarding school in late-twentieth century India. The author explores the various complexities of spiritual life, friendship, and forbidden love within the confines of a rigid monastic order.

Anirvan, the protagonist, grapples with his aspirations to become a monk while being drawn to a fellow student in an intimate and taboo relationship. Majumdar delves into themes of sexuality, identity, and societal norms, raising compelling questions about monastic celibacy and the bonds that hold communities together.

Against the backdrop of a vigilant atmosphere, the novel also sheds light on the political landscape and the struggles of marginalized communities. Scent of God is an emotionally charged book that challenges societal constructs and celebrates the power of love.

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The Dancing Boy

Title: The Dancing Boy

Author: Ishani Kar Purkayastha

Publisher: HarperCollins

Price: 348

Pages: 261


This is a sensitive and evocative debut novel that beautifully captures the struggles of Moyur, a young boy growing up in 1980s’ Calcutta. Ishani beautifully portrays Moyur’s journey as he struggles with his own identity and battles against societal norms. The vivid descriptions and the poignant exploration of themes such as gender identity, societal prejudices, and the longing for acceptance make this book a compelling read. Purkayastha’s writing style is immersive, transporting readers to the by-lanes of Calcutta and delving into the emotional complexities of the characters. The Dancing Boy is a tale that lingers in the mind long after the final page is turned.

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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