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Jul 03 2016
by Jared Fembleaux

15 Fun Summer Reads with LGBT+ Main Characters

By Jared Fembleaux - Jul 03 2016
Summer break is finally here, and that can only mean one thing: unlimited time to sit down and crack open a book or turn on an e-reader. It sounds like the perfect way to spend a day, doesn't it? The only problem is that there are millions of books to choose from to read. Do you read a classic like Jane Eyre, or do you read a more current series like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games? There is an endless list of genres, authors and lengths, but luckily I'm here to make it easy for you. I've compiled a list of one of the best and fastest-rising genres of books known as YA, or Young Adult. But this list has a twist: the 15 books listed below all fall under the category of YA, but they all also have main characters that identify as LGBT+! You may not have time to read each and every book on this list, but it can't hurt to try. 

1.  "Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity" by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

"Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity" written by Kristin Elizabeth Clark, is about recent high school graduate Jess and her best friend Christophe, nicknamed Chunk, who are driving cross country to resolve some unfinished business with Jess' father. They are headed to his wedding, where he will marry Jess' mom's ex-best friend where no one is expecting to see her. Oh, and the last time Jess saw her dad, she was a boy. Surprise! 

2. "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" by Alison Bechdel

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This Broadway-turned graphic memoir tells the story of Alison during her childhood and adolescence years, and her difficult, complex relationship with her father. Alison's father is an English teacher and director of the family-owned funeral "fun" home, where Alison and her family lives. Not only is he a historic preservation expert, he is also a closeted homosexual that is involved with some of his male students. While Alison documents her life at home, she also documents her own journey of finding and exploring her sexuality. 

3. "Proxy" by Alex London

Penguin Young Readers Group

This dystopic novel follows a proxy named Syd. As a proxy, Syd, who is of the lowest "economic" class, pays for the crimes of a boy in the upper class that he was assigned to. Everytime the boy misbehaves, breaks a law or does something unruly, Syd gets punished. When the boy crashes a car and kills a girl, Syd is sentenced to death and branded. Both boys realize how unfair the system is, so they flee their lives and vow to beat the system so that they can save each other. 

4. "Guardian" by Alex London

Penguin Young Readers Group

The second book of the Proxy Series, "Guardian," is about the former proxy Syd. He is now the head of a revolution, and he plans on taking down anyone who doesn't agree with his plan. While trying to free all proxies, a strange illness appears, killing off the Guardians – violent law enforcers of the old system, high elites and everyone below them. Syd decides that it is up to him and Knox, the boy he was originally assigned to, to find a cure. What he finds along the way will change his life forever. 

5. "Been Here All Along" by Sandy Hall 

Feiwel & Friends

Gideon, the main character in "Been Here All Along," is always planning out the road ahead of him; his plan includes becoming head of the yearbook committee, running for class president and having his choice of colleges. What Gideon didn't plan was to fall madly in love with his best friend Kyle. Kyle is already dating Ruby, the head cheerleader, and when she and Gideon start acting strange, just as Kyle's position as captain of the basketball team becomes threatened, Kyle struggles to understand what he did wrong. 

6. "Boy Meets Boy" by David Levithan

Random House Children's Books 

In "Boy Meets Boy," Paul, a sophomore in high school, meets Noah, whom he is convinced is the perfect boy, the one that was made to be with him. Unforuntately, Paul makes the wrong move and ruins the relationship. The school bookie says that there is a 12-1 chance that Paul can win Noah back. But Paul isn't giving up just yet. He will do whatever he has to to save his friendships with his best friends Joni and Tony who are slowly drifting away and to win Noah back.

7. "Anything Could Happen" by Will Walton

Scholastic, Inc.

Tretch lives in a very small town. Everybody knows everybody else's business. How Tretch's best friend Matt doesn't know that Tretch is completely head of heels for him blows Tretch's mind. Tretch has been living with his "secret" for his whole life, and he is getting tired of keeping it all to himself. He will have to put himself out on a limb and get out of his comfort zone to discover who his real friends and family are. You can find "Anything Could Happen" here.

8. "Ask the Passengers" by A.S. King

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

In "Ask the Passengers," Astrid Jones is part of a secret relationship with another girl. She wants to talk to someone about it, but her pushy mother and uninterested father lead her to believe that she can't trust them. As the reality of keeping the relationship quiet becomes more intense, and as her friends keep demanding answers to questions about it, she has nowhere left to turn except to the people 30,000 feet in the air above her. Astrid frequently lies on her back on the backyard picnic table, watching planes pass. Making these tiny connections with people that don't even know she's there will impact their lives, and her own, for the better.

9. "The Great American Whatever" by Tim Federle 

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Quinn Roberts, a gay teenage boy and "Hollywood hopeful" in "The Great American Whatever," is grieving the loss of his sister. The whole summer, Quinn has barely been communicating with anybody except his mother. His best friend decides that Quinn needs to get out and clear his mind, so he is brought to a party where he meets a super hot guy that gives him a reason to live again. Quinn starts to imagine his future as a screenplay that ends with a happily ever after, but along the way, Quinn is forced to examine the relationships in his not-so-fairytale life. 

10. "True Letters From a Fictional Life" by Kenneth Logan

HarperCollins Publishers

The outside world views James as a star athelete, a decent student and boyfriend to peppy, adorable Theresa. But to James, most of this isn't who he really is. When James sits down at his desk and writes, he is a completely different person. He fills his desk drawers with letters to the people in his life. He talks about his love life and how he actually isn't into Theresa at all, but instead a boy that he knows. His letters and never indented to be sent, but somehow they are. James' darkest secrets and his second life are suddenly public to the world. "True Letters From a Fictional Life" can be found here.

11. "You Know Me Well" by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

St. Martin's Press

Told from both perspectives of Mark, a gay boy and Kate, a gay girl, "You Know Me Well," by David Levithan and Nina LaCour follows a pair of classmates that have sat next to each other in school for a year, but have never actually spoken to each other. This all changes on a night in the city, miles away from their homes, when they both happen to be in same neighborhood. Kate is running away from the opportunity to meet the girl she has been in love with from afar when she sees Mark, who is in love with his best friend Ryan (who potentially feels the same way). When they meet up, the two don't know that within a short amount of time, they will know each other better than anyone else knows them. They will help each other navigate through the pain and joy that comes with first loves and possible heartbreak. 

12. "If I Was Your Girl" by Meredith Russo

Flatiron Books

Before I give a synopsis of this book, I would just like to point out that there is a big gap in the LGBT+ genre of transgender characters written by transgender authors. This book is helping to close that gap! ALSO, the model on the cover of the book happens to be transgender! Now: Amanda is starting at a new school in a new town where she is determined to not let anyone get too close to her. But when she meets Grant, a boy at school, she can't help but letting him in and falling for him. As their relationship progresses, Amanda wants to tell Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda is afraid that once Grant knows the truth about who she used to be, he won't be able to look past it.

13. "Gena/Finn" by Kat Helgeson and Hannah Moskowitz 

Chronicle Books LLC

Gena writes fan fiction. Finn draws fan art. When the two girls meet online, it's love at "first chat." But as the two girls talk more and more, eventually getting to the point of talking all day and night, their relationship becomes fuzzier and fuzzier. Gena has always had a feeling that she was bisexual since she was young. Talking to a girl is nothing new to her. But for Finn, who is already in a relationship close to engagement, talking to Gena is trying. Does Finn love both girls in her life, or does she love one more than the other? Find out by purchasing the book here.

14. "I'll Give You the Sun" by Jandy Nelson

Penguin Young Readers Group

They're not just Noah and Jude. They're NoahandJude. Twins. Inseperable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the boy next door. Jude is a rebel who cliff dives, wears lipstick and does the talking for the both of them. Some years later, the two are barely talking. Something happened that changed the dynamic of the twins. The early years of their lives are for Noah to tell, and the later for Jude. They each have only one half to a full story, and maybe if they can find their way back to each other, they have a chance at being the way they once were. Buy "I'll Give You the Sun" here.

15. "This is Where it Ends" by Marieke Nijkamp


The principal of Opportunity, Alabama finishes her speech at 10:00 in the morning, welcoming the students to a new semester at school. At 10:02, the students get up the leave the auditorium. At 10:03, the auditorium doors don't open. At 10:05, someone starts shooting. Over the next 54 minutes, the students struggle to survive and figure out why the boy started shooting in the first place. This story is told over four different perspectives, four people fighting to stay alive.

All of these books are perfect for reading while sitting in a nice air conditioned room or out on a hot beach. But wherever you decide to read them, these 15 choices will definitely let your summer be booked. Have a safe a summer, and happy reading!

Lead Image Credit: Jared Fembleaux

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Jared Fembleaux - Loyola Marymount University

Jared Fembleaux is a freshman screenwriting major at Loyola Marymount University. Jared loves dogs, Netflix and creating artwork. Follow him on Instagram @fembleaux!

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