The best sex-positive YA books

The Books I Picked & Why

Full Disclosure

By Camryn Garrett

Book cover of Full Disclosure

Why this book?

This contemporary YA novel is honest, open-hearted, and rings true to the teenage experience. Simone is HIV positive, a reality that makes sexual relationships complicated and her presence at a new school potentially dangerous, thanks to a series of anonymous notes in her locker threatening to out her. In this debut novel, Camryn Garrett deftly navigates complex subjects while infusing Simone’s story with humor, hope, and all the excitement that accompanies first love.

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The Darkness Outside Us

By Eliot Schrefer

Book cover of The Darkness Outside Us

Why this book?

This science fiction novel from Eliot Schrefer has it all: a thrilling adventure in space, a disembodied robot withholding information, and a pair of adorably opposite boys falling in love. This dramatic story about survival, love, and love as a means of survival is on the upper end of YA, but it’s one you don’t want to miss! Be prepared to laugh, cry, swoon, and throw your book across the room in shock because this one will stick with you long after the final page.

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Today Tonight Tomorrow

By Rachel Lynn Solomon

Book cover of Today Tonight Tomorrow

Why this book?

If you’re wanting young adult romance with well-crafted sex scenes that are equal parts sweet, funny, and informative, Rachel Lynn Solomon is your gal. Today Tonight Tomorrow takes place in twenty-four hours in the city of Seattle as two high school rivals team up to win the senior class scavenger hunt. This fun, light-hearted novel is a great read for teens and adults alike! (And Solomon also has some stellar adult romances, if that’s more your speed.)

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Last Night at the Telegraph Club

By Malinda Lo

Book cover of Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Why this book?

Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1954 at the height of the Red Scare, this quietly powerful coming-of-age novel by Malinda Lo is guaranteed to astound. A confused and questioning Lily Hu is torn between her commitment to family, a new friendship that blossoms in unexpected ways, and her discovery of a tantalizing queer nightclub in her own neighborhood. This sapphic historical romance is full of beautiful prose, striking images, and a tenuous exploration of forbidden love.

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Red Hood

By Elana K. Arnold

Book cover of Red Hood

Why this book?

This exquisite novel by Elana K. Arnold opens with an evocative sex scene and only gains momentum from there. Not for the faint-hearted, this fairytale explores themes of toxic masculinity, rape culture, and violence. Unlike some of the other books on this list, Red Hood is not an uplifting book about teenage sexuality. But if you’re wanting a gritty, daring novel that pushes the boundaries of storytelling and leaves you aching for more…look no further. 

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