It’s Pride Month, like the title states, and to celebrate I wanted to recommend a few graphic novels that celebrate LGBTQ+ stories. Most of these titles are coming of age and young adult but no matter what age you are, these books should definitely be must read this month.

Poison Ivy Thorns. Sara Kipin. DC Comics

Poison Ivy Thorns may be a DC graphic novel for young adults, but it is truly for all ages. This introduction to Pamela Isley is one that is dark with some horror aspects but filled with self-discovery that shapes Pamela at a young age into the anti-hero she becomes. She is in high school and clearly doesn’t fit in, until she meets Alice Oh who then comes to live with Pamela and her father after an accident in a park. There are a lot of trust issues in this graphic novel, between Pamela and her father and anyone who isn’t family.

Her father uses Pamela as the only way to keep her mother alive to the point where it becomes abusive and wrong. When Alice finds out, they become closer and fall in love. But, Pamela knows that in the end, she has to do what needs to be done no matter how hard it may be. Kody Keplinger’s, author of The DUFF, writing style is fluid. The artwork of Sara Kipin is very fitting and immersive and the story throughout portrays how Pamela finds her true self.

Highly recommend this read!

You Brought Me the Ocean. Julie Maroh. DC Comics

You Brought Me the Ocean is another DC Comics young adult graphic novel. Jake Hyde lives in New Mexico and is told to always “play it safe” but Jake yearns for the ocean and adventure. Then he meets Kenny and they start getting to know each other, find they have a connection after almost drowning Jake saves him. This is when he starts to discover his connections to water. His father does not understand or accept that Jake is queer and his close friend Maria does not know he likes Kenny so Jake starts to spiral a bit.

Jake then tells his mom that he is gay and shows her that the birthmark she thinks he has, is not just that. She then goes on to tell him about Black Manta and how after giving birth to him, she escaped with Aquaman’s help. In the end, this is a tale of self discovery and acceptance. Not just from Jake but from those who love him, and his journey begins here. This is beautifully drawn by Julie Maroh and encompasses the beauty of young self-acceptance.

I also highly recommend this YA graphic novel!

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me. Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. First Second

Mariko Tamaki has become a favorite writer of mine, as of late. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is a story that follows Freddy Riley and her on again, off again relationship with Laura Dean. I was surprised at how much this story kept pulling me in, and it was engulfed in one sitting. The artwork style of Rosemary Valero-O’Connell is beautiful and really fits the story. The story is narrated by Freddy, as she is writing into the Anna Vice advice column.

Freddy just wants to be with Laura Dean, but its complicated. This story is about the awkwardness, setbacks and hope of finding love as a teenager. Laura Dean always has a way of telling Freddy that it’s their thing to separate and then get back together, which gets Freddy’s hopes up and seems like that is normal about their relationship. When that’s not the case.

Her group of friends and ones that she meets make her come to realize that in fact, that is not normal but totally toxic. Freddy’s close friend Doodle goes through a tragic situation and they become really close in the end after Freddy pushes her away for the most part throughout the story. In the end, she realizes what is most important. Being a friend and all other things other than being the ex-girlfriend of Laura Dean. Definitely give this three time Eisner winner graphic novel a read!

Luisa Now and Then. Carole Maurel. Humanoids Life Drawn

Luisa Now and Then, originally written and drawn by Carole Maurel, French artist and adapted by Mariko Tamaki, was a book I found at the local library. Seeing Mariko Tamaki’s name got me to grab this book and I am SO glad that I did. I had never heard of this book before, and want more people to know about it as well. The story and artwork style blend so well together.

This story follows Luisa Arambol who is struggling with her life, relationships and job in her early thirties. She is a queer photographer that takes pictures of food, while at lunch with her friend Farid, he asks what she would say to her younger teen self in a joking manner. Little does she know, there’s a young teen version of Luisa that falls asleep on a bus and wakes up to the neighborhood where older, current time Luisa, lives. Luisa’s neighbor across the hall, Sasha finds young Luisa and brings her up to her place. They discover that Luisa’s apartment was her relatives. Luisa freaks out and tries to figure out who this person could be. Until she finds out that it is truly her younger self!

Luisa’s neighbor, Sasha becomes a love interest to Luisa and also younger Luisa. As the story goes on, younger Luisa and Luisa start to discover that since they are both in each other’s presence, they start to almost dissipate and morph into each other, in a sense. Luisa starts to spin out of control with her emotions, when younger Luisa starts to bond with Sasha. She is still coming to terms with being able to fall in love with women and at the end of the book, when she meets up with her mother to come out, the older version continues on in life after leaving the younger version alone to go back into her life.

The way this story is drawn and written is beautiful and important to self-discovery and teaches to just be who you are and love who you want, no matter the circumstances. After reading this library book and really enjoying it, I am hoping to purchase a copy to own.

Let me know of any LGBTQ+ graphic novel recommendations you have! I know there are probably a few that I have read and left off this short list, and ones that are still on the shelf to be read.

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