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February 26, 2024
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February 26, 2024

Love is in the air: Queer novels for Valentine’s Day

A+student+reaches+for+a+book+off+of+their+shelf.+Photo+by+Georgia+Berry+%2F+Production+Editor.
A student reaches for a book off of their shelf. Photo by Georgia Berry / Production Editor.

Valentine’s Day is a rather divisive holiday. People either love or hate it, and a lot of that usually depends on relationship status. Whether you’re single or taken, or whether it’s complicated, here are some novels with queer romance subplots that might help heal you this Valentine’s Day. 

Note that these are books with queer romance subplots—the entire story itself doesn’t revolve around the characters’ identities. They are simply present and accepted, which makes for a more engaging read. That being said, these novels are great for any reader, whether you’re a romance fan or not. 

“When the Angels Left the Old Country,” written by Sacha Lamb, is a fantasy novel that’s perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s “Good Omens.” The story follows an angel named Uriel and a demon that goes by the name Little Ash. While studying together in Eastern Europe during the early 20th century, the two hear about a young girl disappearing while immigrating to America and set off to find her. 

The story may seem simple, but the relationship between the two celestial beings couldn’t be more charming. They encounter many problems during their journey, and their gang grows larger as friendly humans join the fray. One of these humans is Rose, who is struggling with unrequited feelings for her best friend, along with the turmoil of being queer in the early 1900s. 

Rose’s queer identity, along with Uriel’s gender-fluidity, and the romance that blossoms between Uriel and Little Ash, should leave queer audiences greatly satisfied. At the very least, it has a much happier ending than the latest season of “Good Omens.” If you know, you know. 

“Into the Light” is a fantasy-mystery written by queer author Mark Oshiro. The story is autobiographical for the most part, with the main conflict being based in Oshiro’s experiences as a queer person of color in an oppressive religion. Queerness is an inseparable aspect of the protagonist Manny’s identity, and it’s also inseparable from the plot and motivations of the book’s villains. 

Manny has been wandering the streets for a year ever since his adoptive parents ejected him from their home, and Eli has been living on a religious compound with no memory of his past. When a dead body is found on said compound, both boys have to face the truth about the world they know and the people they want to be. Both characters have gripping backstories and personalities that fly off the pages, and the audiences can’t help but want the best for both of them. 

Manny’s budding relationship with a boy whose family he’s on the road with serves as a heartwarming side plot to the story. Through this relationship, Manny has to learn to tear down the walls he’s built up over the past year, and he grows into a more confident person throughout the book. It’s a beautiful story for queer people who have experienced trauma and doubt about the people around them. 

“Like Water” is a gentle queer love story written by Rebecca Podos. The book is about Savannah, who is facing the possibility of forever being trapped in her tiny hometown after her father is diagnosed with Huntington’s disease; her worldview is drastically changed once she meets Leigh, a genderfluid teen who is just looking to escape the dullness of their life. The two form a quick friendship, and eventually they end up transitioning into something more. 

The book perfectly captures the restlessness that comes with small-town living. It feels young and fresh, and younger queer audiences can relate to the characters’ struggles with identity. The world in this novel seems massive in scope, a huge uncharted territory. It can be an invigorating realization for most young people in Savannah and Leigh’s shoes. The way Podos portrays this is gripping and realistic, which makes “Like Water” worth a read. 

For those without plans this Valentine’s Day, hopefully getting engaged in a story can help with holiday loneliness. These books won’t break your heart like people can.