June is GLBT Book Month! This month we celebrate the diverse stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people with some fantastic coming-of-age stories about GLBT teens. These books are ideal for anyone looking to expand their reading horizon or anyone just looking for an engrossing story.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills tells the story of Gabe, a graduating high school senior and the host of a community radio show that is quickly becoming an underground hit. The problem is that everyone outside of Gabe’s parents and his best friend Paige know him as Elizabeth, his birth name. Written in the first person, Gabe’s smart and witty voice lend this novel a unique tone. The book is often wryly funny despite its serious subject matter, as Gabe is outed and deals with a violent backlash.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, narrated by a Greek chorus of “shadow uncles” (gay men lost to the AIDS epidemic) focuses the story of Craig and Harry, ex-boyfriends who are participating in an attempt to set the world record for longest kiss. Levithan weaves in the stories of other gay teens and deftly explores how society views on homosexuality have and have not changed over the years. The novel is a powerfully written ode to the varied lives and experiences of homosexual men and teens throughout the years.
If the magical realism aspect of the Greek chorus in Two Boys Kissing appealed to you be sure to also check out Ask the Passengers by A.S. King. Astrid Jones a girl unable to talk to anyone in her small Pennsylvania town spends much of her time sending love to the passengers on the planes 30,000 feet above her. Astrid struggles to fit in with her dysfunctional family and is pressured to come out by her work friends. This frank and thoughtful book is ideal for anyone struggling to live their life on their own terms and not give in to the pressures to conform or the pressures to rebel.
The last (and probably my favorite) book on this list is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Aristotle and Dante are unlikely friends. Ari, a quiet, introverted, and unsure of his place in the world, and Dante, a self-assured and gregarious, become fast friends as they deal with family issues and issues of identity. This beautifully written and poetic novel deftly handles the growing relationship between the two boys as they both come to terms with their identities.