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This post has really been months in the making. Over the summer I was reading the synopsis for a book and was really interested until the second paragraph. It said that the (male) main character’s boyfriend died by suicide. I don’t know why this particular book—whose title nor author I can’t even remember anymore—sparked such an annoyance for me, but it did. I am so tired of tragic gays stories.
Eventually, I let the thought go because I didn’t know how to talk about it without calling out some authors that I love. I mean, Shaun David Hutchinson and Adam Silvera write some really sad stories whose main characters have ex-boyfriends that commit suicide. And those are necessary stories! The higher forces know that we gays are not doing well. Still, it seems that there is an overwhelmingly higher percentage of queer stories with tragedy than allocishet stories with tragedy. One of the things that bothers me is that most of these tragic stories are written by authors outside of our community. It’s just another punch in the gut.
Needless to say, this anger/annoyance/overall negative feeling towards the situation stuck with me for a few months. The reason I’m writing this post now is that I was discussing the issue with some of my friends a couple weeks ago and realized that we need to bring attention to this issue. My first step in doing this is to write a list of queer stories that don’t qualify as tragedy.
All of the books below feature a main character in a romantic pairing that is male/male, male/enby, female/female, or female/enby. Additionally, they all have an ending with a happy and/or hopeful feel to it. They are listed alphabetically by the author’s last name.
A Hidden Hope by Laura Ambrose ♠
Age: New Adult
Penglass Publishing / 20 October 2018
Natalie and El used to be writing critique partners, sharing their work chapter by chapter. Falling in love off-page was like the next part of the story. But after a huge falling out, three years have passed in bitter silence.
When they both appear at a science fiction convention in London, Natalie, a struggling writer, wants nothing to do with El, the hot debut novelist who sold her book at auction under a male pseudonym. But over the weekend, ignoring each other–and their attraction–proves impossible, not least because they have several panels together. Can El hope to atone for the mistakes of their past, and is Natalie willing to let hope fly?
This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender
Genre: Contemporary / Romantic Comedy
Age: Young Adult
Balzer + Bray / 30 October 2018
Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings.
Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.
Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.
After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?
The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta
Age: Young Adult
Viking / 30 October 2018
All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.
Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.
Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.
Coffee Boy by Austin Chant ♠
Genre: Romance / Coming of Age
Age: New Adult
NineStar Press / 31 October 2016
After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.
Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
Avon Impulse / 8 January 2019
While her boss the prince was busy wooing his betrothed, Likotsi had her own love affair after swiping right on a dating app. But her romance had ended in heartbreak, and now, back in NYC again, she’s determined to rediscover her joy—so of course she runs into the woman who broke her heart.
When Likotsi and Fabiola meet again on a stalled subway train months later, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Tea and food soon leads to them exploring the city together, and their past, with Fab slowly revealing why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wondering if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.
The Disasters by M.K. England ♠
Genre: Science-Fiction / Space Opera
Age: Young Adult
HarperCollins / 18 December 2018
Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.
But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.
They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.
Spy With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
Pairing: M/M and F/F (two main characters)
Genre: Historical fantasy
Age: Young Adult
Albert Whitman Company / 2 October 2018
Siblings Ilse and Wolf hide a deep secret in their blood: with it, they can work magic. And the government just found out.Blackmailed into service during World War II, Ilse lends her magic to America’s newest weapon, the atom bomb, while Wolf goes behind enemy lines to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program. It’s a dangerous mission, but if Hitler were to create the bomb first, the results would be catastrophic.
When Wolf’s plane is shot down, his entire mission is thrown into jeopardy. Wolf needs Ilse’s help to develop the magic that will keep him alive, but with a spy afoot in Ilse’s laboratory, the letters she sends to Wolf begin to look treasonous. Can Ilse prove her loyalty—and find a way to help her brother—before their time runs out?
Blackout by Kit Mallory
Genre: Science Fiction / Romance
Kit Mallory / 8 May 2018
For 16-year-old Skyler, fear is a way of life.
Ever since the Wall split the UK in two, her survival as an illegal Northern refugee in the South has been a relentless knife-edge balance between evading the brutal, corrupt Board and clinging to her reputation as the South’s best hacker.
But Skyler’s sick of living in fear – and she’s got nothing left to lose. So when fellow Northerner Mackenzie unwittingly hands her a chance to exact revenge on the regime that destroyed her home and family, she seizes it.
She’s about to start a fire.
Like Water by Rebecca Podos ♠
Genre: Contemporary / Coming of Age
Age: Young Adult
Balzer + Bray / 17 October 2017
In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.
That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.
♠ – DISCLAIMER: I have only read the books with a spade symbol after the author’s name. I’ll be happy to provide more details for those books. Unfortunately, cannot offer the same for the books in this list that were suggested to me.
What are some of your favorite books with happy queer characters? Give me more suggestions in the comments!