For me there are two main kinds of books with queer characters: those where queerness plays an integral role in the story and those where no one in the book bats an eye at a character’s queerness. Both are tremendously important. The first so that we can tell stories about our culture, how we got to where we are now, and the problems that we have and continue to face. The second kind of book is more like a look into the future that we are currently building – one where being queer is normal and without stigma.
In the spirit of this idea, here are pairs of books: one about queer people facing queer issues and one with queer characters where their queerness is not a central issue that they must overcome. (Queer Life experience vs. Queer people experiencing life)
The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue
This one is about a big eclectic queer family that brings one of their estranged relatives back into the fold after he falls ill. It is a story about family and learning to love them, even and especially when they are difficult to like.
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
This book begins the next installment in Rick Riordan’s seemingly endless catalog of children’s adventure stories. This one is full of excellent respresentation accross the LGBTQ spectrum, but is entirely focused on the magic fueled adventures of Magnus and his friends on Asgard.
Little & Lion by Brandi Colbert
If you’re looking for a book that grapples with a lot of issues with grace, this is the one for you. Suzette is struggling with her brother’s recent diagnosis with bipolar disorder, her own identity as a black woman, and her burgeoning feelings for another woman. Stigmas are confronted, identities are explored, and a marvelous story is told.
Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Cordova
On the lighter and more adventurous side we find Alex, a witch with more power than she ever wanted. This is a fun adventure centered around family with the kind of love triangle that I can approve of. Alex finds herself caught between Nova and Rishi (a boy and a girl if you didn’t guess already).
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
This book looks at all of the different perspectives that exist in a family raising a trans child. Fortunately, this is not one of those books where the child is exiled or forced to endure an abusive home. It is an intelligent examination of trans identity, chronicled from birth with all of the questions that arise being addressed from the point of view of the child and their parents. This book is not a biography, but the author is the proud parent of a trans individual.
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
As if the combination of Scooby Doo and HP Lovecraft wasn’t phenomenal enough – this book also boasts two women navigating the shift from a close friendship to romance. It’s a little twisted, and a little off-color, but amazingly fun.
I hope that these six books give you some new directions to go with your reading, and make sure to stop by Rediscovered Books if you want some more recommendations or to talk about what you’ve been reading!
—Gwen DeLaney, Rediscovered Books, Boise, ID