The best books about coming out, as chosen by someone who's bad at it

Louise Willingham Author Of Not Quite Out
By Louise Willingham

Who am I?

Louise is a geographer and writer from Staffordshire, England, where she aims to someday own a house with a library. Until then, she is collecting books of all genres – from romantic YA to true crime – and working on improving her embroidery skills. She can often be found either yelling about queer rights or walking through the countryside sometimes both!


I wrote...

Not Quite Out

By Louise Willingham,

Book cover of Not Quite Out

What is my book about?

William Anson is done with relationships. He’s starting the second year of his medical degree single, focused, and ready to mingle with purely platonic intentions. Meeting Daniel, a barely recovered drug addict ready to start living life on his own terms, might just change that. There are two problems. One: William isn’t out. What’s the point in telling your friends you’re bisexual when you aren’t going to date anyone? Two: Daniel’s abusive ex-boyfriend still roams the university campus, searching for cracks in Daniel’s recovery. No matter how quickly William falls for Daniel, their friendship is too important to risk ruining over a crush. William is fine being friends forever. Well, not quite.

Content warning – This book includes references to abortion, PTSD, drug addiction, abusive relationships, and self-harm.

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The books I picked & why

Autoboyography

By Christina Lauren,

Book cover of Autoboyography

Why did I love this book?

Coming out once is difficult, but going back into the closet is a unique sort of challenge. Tanner and Sebastian fall in love when neither of them are exactly ready for it, and their conflicting backgrounds make it difficult for them to reach a happy medium. No spoilers, but this book presented the pain of coming out – or not better than any other I’ve read.

By Christina Lauren,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Autoboyography as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coming-of-age novel about two boys who fall in love in a writing class-one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.

Three years ago, Tanner Scott's family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High's prestigious Seminar-where honor roll students diligently toil to draft…


Surrender Your Sons

By Adam Sass,

Book cover of Surrender Your Sons

Why did I love this book?

This YA thriller pivots on a deep fear I think many of us have: what if I come out and it all goes wrong? In Surrender Your Sons, Sass explores the very worst outcome: being taken to a conversion camp. The characters in this book are messy, sharp, fractured… and their desperation to survive and be true to themselves is deeply human.

By Adam Sass,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Surrender Your Sons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Connor Major’s summer break is turning into a nightmare.

His SAT scores bombed, the old man he delivers meals to died, and when he came out to his religious zealot mother, she had him kidnapped and shipped off to a secluded island. His final destination: Nightlight Ministries, a conversion therapy camp that will be his new home until he “changes.”

But Connor’s troubles are only beginning. At Nightlight, everyone has something to hide—from the campers to the “converted” staff and cagey camp director—and it quickly becomes clear that no one is safe. Connor plans to escape and bring the other…


Only Mostly Devastated

By Sophie Gonzales,

Book cover of Only Mostly Devastated

Why did I love this book?

This queer YA retelling of Grease is everything I wanted in a book. Secret romance, a new kid at school, a closeted boyfriend… the drama and tension in this is sky high, even without Ollie’s ongoing private pain of grieving a family member. Layers of stress build up in this book to make it utterly captivating. The highlight of this book for me was how Ollie dealt with Will’s reluctance to come out: it’s realistic, relatable, understandable. 

By Sophie Gonzales,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Only Mostly Devastated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets Clueless in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease, from NATIONALLY and INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING author Sophie Gonzales

A 2021 Rainbow Book List Selection
A 2021 Southern Book Prize finalist
A Goodreads Choice Awards 2020 finalist
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
An Indie Next Pick

“Only Mostly Devastated is the kind of book I wish existed when my kids were younger—a charming, funny, laugh-out-loud teen romance that reminds all readers love comes in a multitude of flavors, and they are ALL sweet.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times–bestselling author of Small Great Things and A…


The Passing Playbook

By Isaac Fitzsimons,

Book cover of The Passing Playbook

Why did I love this book?

This book is only too relevant right now. Spencer has already come out once and he shouldn’t have to do it again, but a discriminatory law forces him to put his safety and friendships at risk. Beautifully told, this is a story about how coming out isn’t always the perfect choice sometimes it’s the last thing you want to do, and that is why I chose it for my list.

By Isaac Fitzsimons,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Passing Playbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Love, Simon meets Bend It Like Beckham in this feel-good contemporary romance about a trans athlete who must decide between fighting for his right to play and staying stealth.

“A sharply observant and vividly drawn debut. I loved every minute I spent in this story, and I’ve never rooted harder for a jock in my life.” – New York Times bestselling author Becky Albertalli

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He's also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and bullying, Spencer gets…


Some Girls Do

By Jennifer Dugan,

Book cover of Some Girls Do

Why did I love this book?

Some Girls Do presents both sides of falling in love: from the confident, openly gay Morgan and from the stand-offish, closeted bisexual Ruby. Both characters make mistakes and say silly things — and they learn from this. Their differing experiences and expectations surrounding "coming out" makes this book frustrating, relatable, and beautiful.

By Jennifer Dugan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Some Girls Do as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this YA contemporary queer romance from the author of Hot Dog Girl, an openly gay track star falls for a closeted, bisexual teen beauty queen with a penchant for fixing up old cars. Now available in paperback!

Morgan, an elite track athlete, is forced to transfer high schools late in her senior year after it turns out being queer is against her private Catholic school's code of conduct. There, she meets Ruby, who has two hobbies: tinkering with her baby blue 1970 Ford Torino and competing in local beauty pageants, the latter to live out the dreams of her…


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