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.

The books I picked & why

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By Christina Lauren,

Book cover of Autoboyography

Why 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.

Surrender Your Sons

By Adam Sass,

Book cover of Surrender Your Sons

Why 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.

Only Mostly Devastated

By Sophie Gonzales,

Book cover of Only Mostly Devastated

Why 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. 

The Passing Playbook

By Isaac Fitzsimons,

Book cover of The Passing Playbook

Why 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.

Some Girls Do

By Jennifer Dugan,

Book cover of Some Girls Do

Why 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.

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