I love road trips, especially with my family all crammed into one car. I love stopping at gas stations and loading up on way too much candy and soda. I hate driving, but I love sitting in the passenger seat, making road trip playlists full of classics and musicals for everyone to sing along to. I love staring out the window for hours at a time, watching the scenery pass. The typical diners, the little roadside stands, the plastic dinosaur or largest ball of yarn or the other passing “attractions” we never stop at but always say, one day, we will.
I suppose you won’t be surprised to hear I also happen to love road trip novels. The close proximity, the dealing-with-the-inevitable flat tire or spilled drink. The hours that stretch from surface level conversation to having to go deeper because there simply isn’t anything else left to do. The only-one-bed panic and awkwardness and subsequent closeness afterwards. Monotony, to me, is how love grows. Spending hours and hours and hours together, talking about anything, looking in the same direction. Pointing at the cows, counting yellow cars, trying to spot a license plate starting with the letter Z.
If you, like me, love a good road trip novel, look no further. Here are nine queer road trip books to make you want to go on a winter vacation!
Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas
Harrison and Linus do everything together. They’re even planning on going to college together. But then Linus has to move in with his dad in Charleston and their plans come crashing down. As a last hurrah, the boys have a Ferris Bueller-esque day of antics including a train trip, a Pride celebration, and a dance party together. It turns out escaping their parents’ attention is easier than escaping the feelings building up about saying goodbye.
Melt with You by Jennifer Dugan
Best friends Fallon and Chloe aren’t exactly on speaking terms after they hooked up at Chloe’s going-away bonfire. With Chloe off to college, they turn to avoiding each other in the aftermath. But when their moms have a big business presentation, the girls are left running their ice cream truck at festivals across the country. Now, in close proximity, their past is impossible to ignore.
Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin
Trixie and Luz need to get out of their small town, so they plan a little weekend trip. With soda, cigarettes, and Lux’s camera, they’re set. But when a stop at a bar turns violent, the girls have to outrun the media making them into examples and police hot on their heels. This modern, sapphic Thelma & Louise is a thrill ride.
The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann
When 30-year-old asexual Joy’s best friend Malcolm tells her he’s met the love of his life, she should be happy for him. Too bad her deep and very secret love for him turns in the direction of heartbreak.
When Malcolm invites her on a weekend trip with him, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s friend, Fox, she takes advantage of the opportunity as one last chance to get Malcolm to love her back. To do it, she and Fox devise a fake-dating scheme to get Malcolm jealous. But their plan may not be so clever or so fake after all.
Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden
Bea is a teenager on the run from a home life she doesn’t want to talk about. Lou is a twenty-something deep in grief after the loss of her mom en-route to visit family. The two set out on a road trip together, strangers both stuck with their trauma and grief. On the road, they find a lost cat, are pursued by mysterious men, and spend a lot of time in thought. This slow-moving, magical-feeling graphic novel is as beautiful as it is touching.
Nevada by Imogen Binnie
After Maria breaks up with her girlfriend Steph and loses her job, she’s thrown off kilter. Her typical routine of drinking, pills, and remembering her estrogen shots isn’t quite cutting it. In a maybe not so rational reaction, Maria steals Steph’s car and just drives until she ends up in the small town of Star City, Nevada. There, she meets James, who is just as lost as she was at his age. Maria has the chance to be a role model and friend to James in a way she never got herself.
Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow
Dalia’s summer plans of riding roller coasters and making friends are thrown off by her dad’s engagement. Her dad wants her to spend time with her soon-to-be stepsister, Alexa, instead. But Dalia has an idea for everyone to get what they want, and it includes a road trip to an amusement park with Alexa and a girl from Alexa’s swim team, Rani. It turns out the roller coaster might be thrilling, but the butterflies might be about whatever it is Dalia is starting to feel for Rani instead.
The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán, Translated by Sophie Hughes
After a volcanic eruption detours the plane with Paloma’s mother’s body inside, she and her old friends Iquela and Felipe embark on a road trip in a hearse. With alternating point of views between Felipe and Iquela, their journey becomes one into their pasts in Chile as the children of ex-militants too. Time on the road allows them to process their complicated past together.
Love is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar
Written by queer, Muslim, Arab-American Randa Jarrar, this memoir explores her past through a road trip from California to Connecticut in 2016. The non-linear structure and varying topics like being the target of social media threats, violence experienced as a child and an adult, and discrimination keep the memoir engaging as the road trip continues on in the background. You’ll both laugh and cry reading Love is an Ex-Country.