Who doesn’t love a good story with good representation of genders and sexual orientations? Throughout my years of reading, I have stumbled across many well-written novels with LGBTQ characters. Diversity in literature is important, so I think this list might be helpful to those who haven’t found a lot of these books, since they aren’t generally in the mainstream media.
- Luna by Julie Anne Peters
This book was the very first ever LGBTQ book I read. I found it through a friend, and I was instantly intrigued by the summary. The book deal with a transgender character, but it is narrated by her sister through flashbacks every other chapter. I think this novels is one of the most influential, eye-opening stories I’ve ever read. There was a lot of heart, with realistic characters who dealt with realistic problems. Thanks to Luna, I wasn’t only introduced to new ideas and a new genre, but also to the talented Julie Anne Peters.
Summary: Regan’s brother Liam can’t stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister’s clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change-Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam’s family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives? Compelling and provocative, this is an unforgettable novel about a transgender teen’s struggle for self-identity and acceptance.
- Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Imagine a simpler world in which the world accepts people of all sexual orientations. Well, that fantastical world is the type of world in this book. I’m not going to lie, I was interested in this book merely because of the adorable cover. The story itself is very sweet and complex. The main characters were easy to like, and the building and mending of their relationship took me on an emotional ride. After reading it, I was left giddy and smiling like an idiot. I don’t think this book is to be taken so seriously. It’s a story about love. All kinds of love.
Summary: This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.
When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.
This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I found yet another favorite author through this book. Saenz’s writing captured me from the very first page. I hadn’t been so gripped by a story in years. I flew through this book, and once I was done, I wanted more. This book is delightful. It is mostly split in half between light-hearted chapters and really heartbreaking ones. Aristole and Dante stole my heart in their search for all of the secrets of the universe, and I was so grateful to be able to witness their friendship as it evolved. There weren’t many characters in this story, but they were all so wonderful. This is by far my favorite book of all time.
Summary: Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
- Far From Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters
When I picked up this book, I never thought I’d be so captivated by the story. I expected some country tale about some love lost. What I got was a beautiful story about opening and closing yourself up for love, and the consequences of falling in love with the wrong person. The characters were very quirky, and Mike sure added a lot of personality to the book. Mike is a lesbian girl who falls for a straight girl. This is a story about love, but it isn’t a love story.
Summary: Every day in Coalton is pretty much the same. Mike pumps iron in the morning, drives her truck to school, plays softball in the afternoon, and fixes the neighbor’s plumbing at night. Maybe on a big day she stops by the Dairy Delite. But when an exotic new girl, Xanadu, arrives in the small Kansas town, Mike’s world is turned upside down. Xanadu is everything Mike is not-cool, complicated, sexy, and . . . straight. Mike falls desperately in love with her, and at first Xanadu seems surprisingly receptive.Can a gay person love a straight person? And will the love be returned? Or are there physical and emotional distances that can never-and should never-be crossed? This heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful novel will speak to anyone who has ever fallen in love with someone just out of reach.
- One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
Not only does this book deal with queer characters, but it also helps to shed light on Armenian history. This added to my interest. I love a good history lesson, especially when mixed with great characters and a side of love story. Alek and Ethan had their share of adventures and mishaps, and together they taught each other a few valuable lessons. There is just so much to love about this coming-of-age story!
Summary: Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.
Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.
- Gives Light by Rose Christo
I wasn’t expecting to feel so soothed while reading this book. Skylar is a mute boy, who is also half Native American, and queer. Talk about diversity. I loved the history in this book as well. When Skyler moves to an Indian reservation, he learns alongside the reader everything about this culture that has been so foreign to him most of his life. The way the main characters in this book fall in love is the sweetest, least theatrical way I’ve ever read about. In other words, it felt genuine. It definitely made me think on a lot of things, and I was so glad to have read it.
Summary: “Skylar is my name, tragically.”
Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.
When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.
Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.
And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Although this book is a bit on the odd side plot wise, I enjoyed every moment of it. I don’t want to give too much away, but to sum it up, Will and Will are two very different guys who eventually meet in Chicago, and their lives kind of come together. The dual narrative really works, especially because the characters created by both Levithan and Green are all uniquely different. Again, the storyline is strange, but overall, the characters are what steal the show in this novel. No pun intended.
Summary: One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
- Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Wood
Firstly, I’d like to point out that this book is in fact for mature audiences, so keep that in mind. This book makes its own original twist on the legendary Mothman of Point Pleasant. You know, that bat-like creature that showed up decades ago right before disaster struck in the small town of West Virginia. After reading this book, I haven’t been able to look back. I learned about this great myth, I fell in love with Ben and Nic, and I found a temporary home in this fictitious little world. I adore this novel, that’s the basic truth. Thinking of this story brings me comfort and joy, and I know it’ll always be there whenever I’m having a bad day, and it will always bring me back to happier days.
Summary: Ben Wisehart grew up in the idyllic town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. An early encounter with the supernatural shaped his worldview and served as the catalyst for his career as a bestselling horror writer.
Ben left Point Pleasant at the age of twenty. Thirteen years after abandoning his home, he returns to the town to investigate the apparent reemergence of the terrifying creature responsible for his childhood nightmares.
In Point Pleasant, Ben is confronted not only by the town’s resident monster, the Mothman, but also by Nicholas Nolan, Ben’s former best friend. Together, with Bill Tucker—the old recluse who lives on the edge of town—Ben and Nicholas uncover the mystery of the monster in the woods and discover that the ghosts that haunt us are sometimes made of flesh and blood. And sometimes, they lead us home.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I wish I had read this book during high school. I was in college when I finally read it, and so I found it harder to empathize with Charlie, the main character. Don’t get me wrong, I completely empathize with his thoughts and his emotions, but not with this frightening idea of high school. This did not affect the amount of love I have for this book. High school is a tough time, indeed, and it’s no different for Patrick, who is in love with a boy who is too scared to love him back openly. Although Patrick’s storyline wasn’t the center of this novel, it still felt intense. Basically, I just think everyone should read this book at least once. It’s short, and it’s worth it.
Summary: Charlie is a freshman.
And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
- Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux
Here is another book for mature audiences. I’m not used to reading m/m books, to be honest. Well, at least not before stumbling upon this nine-book series. Ty and Zane are FBI agents who cave into their sexual desires while working a case. They go from hatred to lust to confusion. This book wouldn’t have made this list had I not believed that there was more to it than steamy scenes between the main characters. The plot in this book left me astounded. It was a fairly slow build up to the big reveal, but damn, it was worth the wait. I became so invested with every character that I flew through the books. Granted, they weren’t as exciting, plot-wise, as the first installment, but the characters make the ride worth it.
Summary: A series of murders in New York City has stymied the police and FBI alike, and they suspect the culprit is a single killer sending an indecipherable message. But when the two federal agents assigned to the investigation are taken out, the FBI takes a more personal interest in the case.
Special Agent Ty Grady is pulled out of undercover work after his case blows up in his face. He’s cocky, abrasive, and indisputably the best at what he does. But when he’s paired with Special Agent Zane Garrett, it’s hate at first sight. Garrett is the perfect image of an agent: serious, sober, and focused, which makes their partnership a classic cliché: total opposites, good cop-bad cop, the odd couple. They both know immediately that their partnership will pose more of an obstacle than the lack of evidence left by the murderer.
Practically before their special assignment starts, the murderer strikes again – this time at them. Now on the run, trying to track down a man who has focused on killing his pursuers, Grady and Garrett will have to figure out how to work together before they become two more notches in the murderer’s knife.
There are many excellent LGBTQ books I still haven’t gotten to, but I do own a lot more. I plan on tackling them in the future, and creating yet another list. So far, this is all I have. We need more diverse books! Authors, get to work.