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31 Young Adult Books With Diverse Characters Literally Everyone Should Read

Your reading list is going to be full for a while.

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Recently we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their favourite YA books with diverse characters. Here are some of the best recommendations:

1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Starr attends a high-class suburban private school, but lives in a poor, mostly-black neighbourhood. When her best friend is shot dead by police, she's caught up in a Black Lives Matter campaign which divides her community and turns her life upside down. This book is SO IMPORTANT and I think everyone needs to read it. It's also in the process of becoming a movie.

2. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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A teenage undocumented immigrant from Jamaica meets a Korean-American boy 24 hours before she's about to be deported with the rest of her family. This book follows their one day together in New York City, and how they fall in love. It has such a great ending, I cried in the bath.

"It deals with racial/ethnic stereotypes, deportation, the struggle between one's heritage and being a "typical" American teenager, the list goes on. Such a magnificent book." – Morgan Lang, Facebook

3. Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

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Libby was once "America's fattest teen", who had to be winched out of her house when she was too big to walk out of her front door. Jack is the cool kid at school who is hiding a secret: He has a brain disorder that means he can't recognise faces, even of his closest friends and family. When the two meet at high school, they form a special and unexpected friendship.

"Because she writes from experience Jennifer Niven's words are so beautiful and emotional her novels make a huge impact on you. She writes the kind of novels that change you." – Chloe Jane, Facebook

4. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy by Rick Riordan

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This fantasy trilogy is based on Norse mythology. After Magnus' mother mysteriously dies, he finds out he's the son of a Norse God and is needed to help fight in a war and search for a weapon that's been lost for thousands of years.

"All of Rick Riordan's books are pretty diverse. The characters are more than their race/sexuality/identity, but their problems are still open and discussed in a thorough, understanding way. It really helps to identify WITH the kid going through their journey." – Jo Wilson, Facebook

5. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

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"It's about twins who lose their mother in a car crash. Noah is gay, and struggling to come to terms with that, while Jude is trying to come to terms with her mother's death and who she really is. It's one of the most phenomenal pieces of writing I've ever read, it will make you sob with joy and sadness." – Zoe Cunningham, Facebook

6. The Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

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These two books are set in a magical world inspired by Tsarist Russia. Kaz is a criminal prodigy, and is tasked with breaking into the Ice Court (which is virtually impossible) and kidnapping a scientist who could wreak magical havoc on the world. Kaz recruits a crew who are all crazy enough to take on this deadly mission. Told from the viewpoints of five different characters, it's a story of a band of misfits coming together despite differences.

"There are several PoC, LGBT characters, a curvy/fat woman who is confident AF, a character with a disability who needs a cane, and characters with emotional/mental disorders like PTSD. Plus the plot is amazing and insanely fun to try and keep up with." – Sarah Noakes, Facebook

7. The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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Have you ever read Harry Potter and wondered what it would like to be a random Hufflepuff who went to Hogwarts while Harry was there? Well, this book is for you. While the book features zombies and soul-eating ghosts, Mikey isn't the chosen one who has to fight them and save the world. He just wants to graduate high school and ask out his crush before more crazy shit happens in his town.

"It really shows you how maybe ordinary peoples' lives aren't so boring after all. The main character's best friend is gay, and the main female character is a PoC. The main character has a severe case of OCD and anxiety, and helped me figure out that I have mild OCD." – Kate Scott, Facebook

8. The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer

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A collection of futuristic retellings of classic fairytales, main character Cinder lives in a world where cyborgs, androids, and humans all coexist. Cinder fights to save the Earth from a lunar population hell-bent on invading the planet. Each book follows her through a fairytale-inspired storyline, including Red Riding Hood,
Rapunzel
, and Snow White.

"The Lunar Chronicles has THE BEST selection of diverse characters I've ever read. Half the main cast are nonwhite, several of them are disabled, and there's also a fat character. The best part is they're all seen as valuable main characters and worthy love interests!" – Elsa Emmalise Pair, Facebook

9. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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"Simon is a 16-year-old boy who's perfectly happy staying in the closet. But when an email meant for his secret penpal falls into the wrong hands, Simon is blackmailed to keep his sexuality a secret." – annai

(I'm currently reading the author's other book The Upside of Unrequited, another LGBT story. I really recommend it as well!)

10. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Cath and her twin sister Wren love Simon Snow (a book series similar to Harry Potter), and have been writing fanfiction together for years. But once they go off to college, Cath and Wren start drifting apart as Wren finds new interests and friends, while Cath feels left behind.

"It touches on social anxiety and being very introverted, in a very lovely and subtle way." – Lina Kofoed Romanini, Facebook

11. The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

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David is a trans 14-year-old, keeping his secret from everyone but his two best friends. Leo is the new kid in school who hides behind a tough exterior but comes to David's defense when he's bullied. Told in interlacing first-person narratives, the book reminds you that there's so much more than meets the eye.

– Zoe Cunningham, Facebook

12. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

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"This book follows a biracial 17-year-old who is out to solve the mystery about the long-dead corpse that her family finds on their property. The mystery ties into the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and the book toggles back and forth between her and her ancestor from that time, a young man who is also biracial. It spurs interesting discussion on the history of race relations in this country." – Crystal Grey-Hewett, Facebook

13. Ash by Malinda Lo

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"It's such an incredible book. It's a retelling of Cinderella, but instead of falling for the prince, she falls for the king's huntress. It's a very well-written book with rich world-building and an amazing cast of characters. It's also really, really nice to have a story about two women falling in love where everybody lives. I'm so sick of the Bury Your Gays trope, which is probably a huge reason I love Ash so much. The writing is so refreshing and rich, and the stories are complex and wonderful." – Dylan Rae McAdam, Facebook

14. Everything All At Once by Katrina Leno

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"It features a racially ambiguous main character, Lottie, who deals with the extreme anxiety of death and living, after her aunt passes away and leaves behind a set of letters. The letters are filled with instructions and dares Lottie has to complete, to push her out of her comfort zone.

"It's honestly the best representation of anxiety that I've read in a novel in a long time, or ever, because I could easily imagine myself in her shoes with her anxious thoughts. Her best friend is also part of the LGBTQIA+ family and has a girlfriend, but it's not something that's exploited." – Nhi Vuong, Facebook

15. What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

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"The main character realises he's a trans man during his first year at college. It's an incredible book, and as it is told in first person POV, the emotion of his experiences really shows. It also follows his long-term girlfriend from high school, and how she feels during this time." – Shekinah Horsburgh, Facebook

16. The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

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In this sci-fi fantasy series, Rosemary finds herself on a spaceship, on a mission to build a hyperspace tunnel to a new planet. It's insanely difficult, especially as they have to journey through war-torn areas of space, trying not to get caught up along the way.

"It has some of the most impressive world-building I've encountered in YA fiction. There are interspecies romances, gender diversity, characters that use gender neutral pronouns, poly and other canon LGTBQI relationships that aren't sidelined or only mentioned once. Plus, there and discussions of colonisation, xenophobia, and racism, with a heavy focus on family and friendship, overcoming prejudice, and acceptance." – Eliza Mae de Vries, Facebook

17. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

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"The main character is a curvy teenage girl learning to love herself after the loss of her diabetic aunt who gave her the courage to be her. She enters a beauty pageant her mom runs every year and learns to accept someone loves her despite how she views herself. It's a gorgeous piece about body confidence, especially in the world of Texas beauty pageants." – Kate Fairbairn, Facebook

18. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

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"It's about a black teen girl who spends her summer home from school trying to understand sexuality and helping her step-brother after his bipolar diagnosis. The novel also has a character with Ménière's Disease, a disease my mom has, and one I've never seen in a book." – Steph Smith, Facebook

19. My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

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Che is a teenage boy who's just moved across the world with his family. His sister has psychopathic tendencies and pays complex and disturbing games. It's up to Che to keep her under control before she hurts herself or anyone else.

"It's fascinating to read how the signs of her being a psychopath were present at a young age and how she also manipulates the people around her to get what she wants. Definitely recommended." – Brittany Barnes, Facebook

20. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

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Junior is a teen and aspiring cartoonist who grew up on an Indian Reservation. He decides to leave his troubled Rez school for an all-white high school in a small farm town nearby. The story is heartbreaking but funny, and based on the author's own experiences. Plus, illustrations that reflect Junior's art are scattered through the book, accompanying the story.

"I read this when I was in college and became a comfort read. Growing up Native, your sense of identity is always being tested. Not a lot of people understand what it's like growing up Native in a white man's world." – oliviaw12

21. This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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This short novel spans only 54 minutes, and tells the story of a school shooting told from four different perspectives. It's harrowing and heartbreaking and all too real.

"The characters are very diverse, including two closeted lesbian characters and if I remember correctly, an Afghani boy and Latinx siblings. It treats diversity as more commonplace, not making it the main subject which is so important in representation." – adrimannan

22. On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

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It's 2035 and a comet is about to hit Earth. Denise, along with her mother and sister, are assigned to wait out the blast in a shelter near Amsterdam. At the last minute, they have a chance to board a spaceship leaving Earth. But Denise has autism, her mother is a drug-addict, and her sister is trans, making things a lot more difficult.

"The book is full of diverse background characters, and the author is also autistic, so the book is #ownvoices in that aspect." – ekay

23. The Kiki Strike trilogy by Kirsten Miller

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"It's about a kick-ass group of girls who discover and explore an underground city in New York. The girls come from all different backgrounds and are all uniquely skilled in unusual ways. As a kid it helped me to realise that there were people who would like me for who I was, and that I should just embrace the things that made me different, because they were what made me special." – b4f9c737fb

24. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

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"It's a story about a girl who lives in Vietnam during the war and escapes with her family to the United States. The whole book is told in poetry. It is beautiful and emotional and a great perspective on life in a new country." – Bithata

25. You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

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Julia is a deaf graffiti artist who is expelled from her School For The Deaf and sent to a public school. As the only deaf student, she struggles with being an outcast and the only thing she has left is her art.

"It shows us that just because someone is different, they are still a human being. It has a really great message and plot." – maryg

26. Rainbow Boys trilogy by Alez Sanchez

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It follows three boys struggling to come to peace with their sexuality throughout high school and, in later books, college.

"I read this book before I truly knew what sexuality was and all it entails. It opened my eyes to compassion, love, and understanding. It also was one of the first series that helped me come to terms with being pansexual. Not only will this book move you emotionally as you connect to each character, it will also leave your belly aching from laughing. The witty comments are almost too much. I have yet to read another book like it and have returned to the series often." – beautifullyamazing93

27. Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

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Riley is a closeted gender-fluid teen whose father is a Congressman running for re-election in an ultra-conservative area. Riley starts an anonymous blog to help vent their feelings, but when the blog goes viral, the secret of their identity is threatened.

"The explanation of Riley's gender fluidity and anxiety around it is written in a way that anyone can understand what they're going through. My favourite aspect of the book is the simple fact that Riley's sex is never revealed, which is exactly how it should be." – sabrinadenisec

28. It's Not Like It's A Secret by Misa Sugiura

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"The protagonist is a lesbian Japanese high schooler who falls for a Mexican-American classmate. The book also delves into race and discrimination, and it's such a cute and powerful love story." – nikkimarieb

29. Something in Between by Melissa De La Cruz

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"This focuses on a girl who is Filipino, and just when her life starts to fall in place, she finds that her and her family are living in America Illegally. It's a fantastic book, that explores immigration and what it's like to be an immigrant, especially one that is now at risk of deportation." – Zoe Gonzalez, Facebook

30. When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah

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Mina is an Afghani refugee, and Michael's father is the founder of a White Australia political party. When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael's private school, it's safe to say that they don't get along at all. But over time, they end up learning a lot from each other. It's a great insight into what it's actually like to be a refugee, and the constant state of anxiety that comes from casual racism.

FYI: This book was released as The Lines We Cross in the US.

31. When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi

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Fereiba is a schoolteacher in Kabul, happy in her job and her arranged marriage. But when war breaks out and tears the city apart, she's forced to flee with her three children to her sister's house in London. They travel on forged papers, in darkness, reduced to living under the radar. When Fereiba is separated from her oldest son, she must go on without him in the hopes her family will be reunited in London.

Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity. Also, not all submissions came from community members.

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