The 100 Best YA Books of All Time
August 11, 2021 7:34 AM EDT

Abdi Nazemian’s Like a Love Story, published in 2019, is about three teens living in New York City in 1989, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Judy is a fashionista who loves gay culture and is suspicious of most women; Art is out and proud—the only openly gay person at their high school; and Reza has just moved to New York from Iran. Reza knows he’s gay, but is too afraid to act on it: because he is coming of age amid the AIDS crisis, he equates gayness with sickness and death. When Reza begins dating Judy, despite an obvious chemistry with Art, the three friends become enmeshed in a messy love triangle. As they struggle to untangle it, the teens get lessons in queer culture from Judy’s uncle, who is dying from complications related to AIDS, learning about everyone from Marsha P. Johnson to Madonna. Nazemian drew on his personal experience as an immigrant teen coming to terms with his identity to capture a difficult period in LGBTQ history that was riddled with grief, shame and persecution. Like a Love Story, which received a Stonewall Honor in 2020, weaves into its narrative an important history lesson for young people of all sexual orientations. —Shay Maunz

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