Liv­ing at the inter­sec­tion of gay and Jew­ish can be lone­ly. We’re about ten per­cent of less than two per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion in the Unit­ed States, which is tech­ni­cal­ly enough for a minyan, but some­times it doesn’t feel that way. For teens, espe­cial­ly teens with lim­it­ed resources, it’s even hard­er to find your peo­ple. Luck­i­ly, we have always had books, and now we have more books than ever — Jew­ish books, gay books, and even a few of the great­est trea­sure of all: gay Jew­ish books.

As a read­er and writer of young adult fic­tion, I’ve been excit­ed over the past cou­ple of years to see Jew­ish char­ac­ters appear­ing in sto­ries about gay teens. There are still big gaps on my book­shelf — most Jew­ish teens in YA fic­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the LGB romances I have been able to find, iden­ti­fy as sec­u­lar, and so far I have found only one trans­gen­der char­ac­ter who express­es a sense of Jew­ish iden­ti­ty, J in Cris Beam’s I am J. As far as I know, the only book so far which fea­tures Jew­ish­ness as cen­tral­ly as romance is Sarah L. Young’s inde­pen­dent­ly pub­lished Nice Jew­ish Boys.

I would like to fill the gaps on my shelf, but while I wait, I am grate­ful for the books that do exist. In the spir­it of mak­ing Valentine’s Day more sweet and less lone­ly, I’ve gath­ered a short list of young adult Valentine’s reads for gay Jews. There is at least one gay or bisex­u­al Jew­ish char­ac­ter in each of these books, and all of them get hap­py end­ings, even though the way to hap­pi­ness is tough at times. Whether you’re alone on Feb­ru­ary 14th or you’re look­ing for some­thing to read aloud to a part­ner, these books will bring a lit­tle more love into your life.

For those who like their romance with a bit of a dark­er turn, Amy Rose Capetta’s Echo After Echo tack­les an issue that’s been front and cen­ter over the last few months, with a plot about a the­ater direc­tor who gets away with abuse because he is so admired for his art. It also offers a pas­sion­ate romance between a young actress and an appren­tice light­ing design­er. Zara is Jew­ish and Eli is Lati­na, and their romance is paint­ed in the beau­ti­ful brush­strokes of Capetta’s prose. This is the per­fect read for a girl who likes girls and the­ater and mur­der mys­ter­ies, and a lit­tle bit of men­ace, but still wants a hap­py, roman­tic ending.

Lit­tle & Lion by Brandy Col­bert was one of my favorite new releas­es last year. Suzette, the pro­tag­o­nist, is deal­ing with a lot of things: she’s one of the only black girls at her New Eng­land board­ing school, her broth­er Lionel is strug­gling with bipo­lar dis­or­der, which Suzette doesn’t know how to respond to, and at the same time she’s devel­oped a crush on the same girl Lionel likes! The roman­tic plot is great, but what real­ly sold this book for me is the por­trait of a close, com­pli­cat­ed, lov­ing Jew­ish family.

The Art of Starv­ing, by Sam J. Miller, fea­tures anoth­er gay Jew­ish teen, and anoth­er strug­gle with men­tal ill­ness. Matt is the one gay kid in his small town, his sis­ter is a run­away, and the only thing that makes him feel pow­er­ful is con­trol­ling how he eats. Eat­ing dis­or­ders are incred­i­bly com­mon among LGBT youth, and Miller’s por­tray­al is raw and real and nec­es­sary. Of all the gay, Jew­ish YA I’ve read, this is per­haps the most dif­fi­cult to read, but at the same time the most pow­er­ful­ly cathar­tic. By the end of the book, Matt is on the road to recov­ery and he’s no longer so alone: this book will cer­tain­ly break your heart, but then it will glue you back togeth­er bet­ter than ever before.

To bring it back to a lighter, sweet­er, choco­lati­er tone, the won­der­ful Becky Alber­tal­li has giv­en us not one, but two books with sig­nif­i­cant Jew­ish char­ac­ters and sig­nif­i­cant same-gen­der rela­tion­ships. Next month, the film Love, Simon will bring one of those rela­tion­ships to the big screen, in a huge moment for teen roman­tic come­dies. Although the main char­ac­ter of the orig­i­nal book, Simon vs The Homo Sapi­ens Agen­da, isn’t Jew­ish him­self, he’s one of those Gen­tiles whose friends are all Jew­ish — and no spoil­ers, but the mys­te­ri­ous fig­ure behind the email address of Blue,” Simon’s online crush, is Jew­ish too. Albertalli’s sec­ond book, The Upside of Unre­quit­ed, stars the Jew­ish cousin of one of Simon’s best friends. Mol­ly her­self is straight, but Jew­ish­ness plays into her love sto­ry, and she is sur­round­ed by women who love oth­er women: her moms, her sis­ter, and her sister’s friends and girlfriend.

Albertalli’s world isn’t free of the scourges of bul­ly­ing and body image issues that plague real teenagers, but it’s a world full of sin­cere and lov­ing peo­ple, and a world where being gay, or bi, or Jew­ish, or, yes, LGB AND Jew­ish, feels entire­ly expect­ed and nat­ur­al. Baruch HaShem! I look for­ward to more of the same warmth from her upcom­ing title, Leah on the Off­beat, fol­low­ing one of Simon’s best friends as she comes to the real­iza­tion that she is bisexual.

G-d gave us the whole rain­bow — I hope I can soon have the whole rain­bow on my book­shelf. Until then, I’m going to reread the books that already exist, and maybe some fan­fic­tion, too. Or is that midrash?

Hap­py Valentine’s Day, and hap­py read­ing! <3

Sacha Lamb is a part-time librar­i­an, part-time writer and part-time goat-herder. Sacha has pub­lished a num­ber of short sto­ries fea­tur­ing gay and trans­gen­der Jew­ish teenagers, and will be a Lamb­da Lit­er­ary Writ­ers’ Retreat fel­low in 2018.