Gay people exist. I know, that may be a shocker for some people in the world, but it’s true. Gay people, lesbian people, bisexual people, trans people, and all sorts of other non-cis and non-hetero people are alive, real, and valid. However, it can be hard for modern media to depict these facts. Most young adult literature found in this day and age are about straight teenage couples realizing their love for each other in new and romantic ways. These snapshots are not an accurate depiction of modern society by any means, and it can be hard to find accurate representation in our favorite books for characters who are LGBTQIA+ identifying. These are the top 10 best books that include LGBT+ characters written into their stories that we want to read for forever and ever!
1. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
In this novel, Astrid is a young lesbian girl who is coming to terms with her sexuality by telling her secrets to passengers riding airplanes 30,000 feet into the sky. Her relationship is a secret from even the best of her friends, her parents are overbearing, and all Astrid wants is to break free from the expectations society has placed on her. The novel itself is written beautifully, so much so that A.S. King is actually a Printz Honor author! This book is a must read for anyone and everyone. Get it for $8.78.
2. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
If you’ve been anywhere on Earth in the last 20 years, chances are you’ve heard of Alison Bechdel. She coined the famous “Bechdel Test” of cinema, claiming movies had to pass a standard three sets of rules – have two female named characters, have the two female characters engage in a conversation, and have the conversation be about something other than a man – in order to truly be a feminist flick. However, this comic is written in a much more serious tone than the test is. The tragicomic follows Bechdel’s years as a child growing up all the way until her post-college years when she realizes she is a lesbian; in her realizations, she also finds out her father, Bruce Bechdel, was gay. This is a quick and entertaining read full of insight for the average intellect to digest. Get it for $9.84.
3. George by Alex Gino
This book is absolutely amazing and deserves far more recognition than it has received since its publication in August of 2015. George is the story of a transgender mtf child figuring out her identity. The best part? It’s written for kids. The story gives definitions about what transgender means, what identity is, and, most importantly, how to accept others. It’s a good book for kids and adults alike, and it’s a quick read! Get it for $6.25.
4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan
What would you do if you met someone with the exact same name as you? That’s exactly what happens in the 2010 novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Will Grayson is an American teenager, just living out his high school days until graduation with his very gay best friend, Tiny Cooper. However, while pursuing the streets of Chicago one night, they come across another teenage boy also named Will Grayson, who also happens to be gay. Their lives soon overlap, and homosexual romance spawns between new Will and Tiny. It’s a great story full of fun, energy, and extraordinary life lessons. Also, there’s a companion novel called Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story that is also a marvelous read! Get it for $8.47 here.
5. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
After her parents die, Cameron Post is forced to move in with her grandmother and her Aunt Ruth, both highly conservative and old-fashioned in their own ways. This is horrible news to the main character because, as luck would have it, she is a girl who enjoys kissing other girls. She feels relief when she finds out about her parents' death because they will never have to know about her lesbian status, but things get worse after moving to the heart of the south with the two older women in her family. This book is an eye-opener about bible belt culture in relation to the LGBT+ community and how they are treated by southern states. Even though the book is 470 pages, each line is worth it due to the detailed plot line, character development, and word choice. Get it for $8.47.
6. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
Three best friends, one summer that tears them apart. The summer before senior year, Nina attends a pre-college program on a university campus for ten weeks, leaving Mel and Avery alone without their third bestie. However, the two girls soon discover something about each other that they’d never known before...they’re in love. Instead of telling anyone around them, Avery and Mel keep it a secret, which in turn creates drama and conflict within the trifecta bestie group when the Nina catches them kissing. This book is beautifully crafted for optimal character development in the self-discovery journeys of Mel, Avery, and Nina. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but mostly a little in between. Get it for as low as $0.25 here.
7. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is the story of Gabe, a teenage, transgender male, who is trying to show the world who he truly is. People around him still believe he is a female named Elizabeth, but he slowly emerges from the past shell and lets himself free when he begins announcing on a late night radio show, introducing himself as Gabe. As Gabe himself says, “I’m like a record. Elizabeth is my A side...Gabe is my B side--not heard as often, but just as good to play.” The novel is beautifully crafted with each twist in the plot meant to help Gabe grow from the underdog to the person he was born to be; from the beginning to the end, we’re all rooting for him to win his battle in life, to be who he truly wants to be. Get it for $6.37 here.
8. Lies My Girlfriend Told Me By Julie Ann Peters
Alix is head-over-heels in love with her girlfriend Swanee. She’s beautiful, smart, and she can’t imagine living a single second without her. However, while training for an upcoming track meet on an early Saturday morning run, Swanee dies of cardiac arrest. Alix is distraught and lost in the world until she discovers Swanee’s cell phone with texts from an unknown number claiming “te amo” to her. She soon discovers that Swanee was cheating on her with a girl named Liana, and their entire relationship had been a lie. Unknown of her place in the universe, Alix must figure out what was truthful and what was forgery in their relationship while coming to terms with the fact that her girlfriend is dead and she may actually be falling in love with her girlfriend’s other girlfriend. Get it for $8.86.
9. Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
Ellen Hopkins is notorious for writing young adult novels in poetry verse dealing with real teen issues such as prostitution, drugs, relationships, and sexuality. This novel (a companion to Hopkins’ original novel Impulse) in particular, however, handles the subject of human sexuality the most in the form of character Cara Sykes. While her parents are dealing with the death of Connor, Cara’s twin brother, Cara is attempting to come to terms with her sexuality as a lesbian. Things spiral horribly out of control when she breaks up with her current boyfriend Sean, meets a nice girl, engages in sexual activity with her, and has it published all throughout the school that she's a lesbian. Although the book revolves around three characters besides Cara – Sean, Kendra, and Andre – her story is a large focus of the novel, and it leaves us all hanging until the very last page is finished. Get it for $8.68 here.
10. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsburg
In Openly Straight by Bill Konigsburg, Rafe is a soccer player who lives in Colorado who just so happens to be gay. However, since he has been “out of the closet” since middle school, people see him as “the gay guy”. He often goes to other high schools in pursuit of giving speeches about tolerance, and his sexuality is mostly accepted by everyone else around him. He can’t seem to shake the “gay” label off of him, though, and it soon becomes his entire existence. Then, Rafe transfers to a boys-only boarding school. When he gets there, he decides to keep it a secret that he’s gay. However, then he meets Ben. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but there is a sequel called Honestly Ben hitting bookstore shelves soon, so you might want to read this eye-opener about being who you truly are before its release! Get it for $8.97 here.
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